Electronics gear of the past may have been quirky and cheesy-looking but I think they had more personality and soul than today’s tech.
My Box Amp has a home.
Back on December 7th, I wrote about assembling the Box Amplifier Kit I purchased from the Maker SHED store. After assembling the kit, the amplifier tested perfectly. However, I was still looking for a box to install the kit in. I found what I was looking for at Michael’s arts and crafts store. Michael’s sells a variety of sturdy fiberboard boxes. The box I chose was the right size and only cost a couple of dollars. Although I ended up with a box that I had to buy rather than reusing something I picked out of the recycle bin, I’m really happy with the results.
So, how does it all sound? Freakin’ awesome. I’ve been plugging in my iPod, my electric guitar, my portable radio. Basically any portable device with an audio output. This Box Amplifier has great bass and you can actually crank it up pretty good. All powered by a 9-volt alkaline battery.
Below you can see the process I went through cutting holes to mount the speaker and control panel. My intention was to use as few tools as possible. I used a box cutter to cut the holes. It looks a little rough but in the end everything cleaned up nicely. Also, since I liked the “AMP” stamp from the box the kit shipped in (which was too small for the final installation), I decided to cut it away and attach it to the lid of amp box using spray adhesive. It definitely has that grungy, DIY, handmade look I was going for.
Thank You Maker SHED.
A big “Thank You” to the Maker Shed store for putting together another great kit. As a huge fan of Make Magazine, the folks at the Maker SHED store have helped renew my interest in DIY projects. You rock!
DIY Box Amplifier Kit
The do-it-yourself (DIY) project I chose to work on this past weekend was waiting for me in a box for over two months. I ordered the Box Amplifier Kit from the Maker SHED store around the end of September. Things, as usual, got busy and I just never made the time to assemble it.
What originally interested me in this kit was a need for a small, portable, amplified speaker that I could use with my iPod, electric guitar or anything else that had an audio/headphone output. This kit does that. The description from Maker SHED store follows:
A great-sounding, loud amplifier kit designed to easily fit in almost any box (cardboard or otherwise). It goes from solder station to stage in under 60µF!! Solder it up, cut out holes for the speaker and controls, and plug in your instrument!
* 1/4″ Jack connects to most instruments (electric guitars, keyboards, theremins, etc)
* Highly portable – take the amp to your jam session, band practice, or the front porch!
* Simple installation in a box allows for easy enclosure customization
* Solders up quickly and easily
* Great for beginner “makers” and accomplished musicians alike
* Works with any center positive 9-volt power supply
* Can be modified to operate on a 9-volt battery
via Box Amplifier Kit.
What’s even better about this kit is, for a relatively low price ($29.95) and a little effort with a soldering iron, I get the satisfaction of having made it myself.
My assembly process.
Sunday afternoon, I finally unpacked all the parts, spread them out and got to work. Using the easy-to-follow How to Instructions I was able to assemble my amplifier in less than an hour. See some pictures of my assembly process below. In addition to the standard DC power jack that is for connecting to a “wall-wart” AC adapter, I added a 9-volt battery snap for portable use. After hooking up the power, I plugged in my electric guitar. Strumming a few notes, I smiled when I heard how much sound came out of that little speaker. Next, I connected the headphone output of my iPod to the amplifier. Again, even though monophonic, it sounded pleasantly full.
In search of …the perfect box.
The reason it’s called a box amplifier is simply because you have to find your own box to mount the amplifier and speaker in. Like the product description says, the assembled kit is intended to fit in almost any kind of box. But it needs to be housed in some kind of box for both protection and to provide the best sound. The kit came in the small cardboard box you see in my pictures with the big red “AMP” stamped on it. I think the stamp looks cool and I considered using that box, but after trying various placements of the speaker and circuit board inside, I decided against mounting it there. It was just a bit too small.
In Part 2 of this project, I’ll describe finding the perfect home for my new box amplifier. My goal is to use “found” materials for the enclosure. Nothing bought or manufactured. Something that can be reclaimed and re-purposed. In short, I’m in search of …the perfect box.