DIY Projects

Box Amplifier Kit – Part 2

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.

Completed Box Amplifier Kit - with "AMP" stamp from shipping box.

Freakin’ awesome.

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 Projects

Box Amplifier Kit – Part 1

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.

Box Amp Kit

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.

Arizona Music

Stand By Me

Going to see @playing4change tonight at Mesa Arts Center. If your spirits need lifting, this might do it:

Stand By Me | Playing For Change | Song Around The World

Humor Life Music Nature

Jonathan Coulton's "Invisible Post"

As we celebrate this beautiful First of May, here is Jonathan Coulton’s “Invisible Post”:

Invisible Post

Which is what this will be for many of you today – traffic on the First of May is always a little heavy for some reason, but my poor server is doing its best to keep up. I wish you all a happy Spring, even if you don’t know it.

This song is free even when it is not this day of the year, but it is especially free today (if you know what I mean):

First of May (<–Not At All Safe For Work)

-Jonathan Coulton, May 1st 2009 –

VIEWER DISCRETION ADVISED – “First of May” is a song that celebrates the coming of spring… by doin’ it outside. This video contains adult language and situations. If you are easily offended by such things, please be forewarned.

Otherwise, watch it. It’s one of the best songs of all time!

If you’re like me, you might not recognize a certain phrase in the song the first time you hear it. If so, read this definition of “flagrante delicto”

Perhaps after this, you’ll be able to say you learned something new today.

Journey Music Observations

My Journey Concert Experience

What a show.

It’s been about 48 hours since seeing Journey in Concert at Cricket Pavilion in Phoenix. You know, I’ve seen Journey around a dozen times in concert. Once with Steve Perry in 1986, several times with Steve Augeri, and once with Jeff Scott Soto in 2006. Two nights ago, after a two-year break, I was again watching Journey perform, this time with Arnel Pineda.

I could write about the set list, the lights or the sound system but I’m not going to do that. I want to write about how the show made me feel.

I think the following post I left on Twitter is a pretty good summary of how I was feeling that night:

Damn, Arnel Pineda is a good singer.
09:26 PM October 03, 2008 from txt

Have you ever heard music that moves the core of your soul?

That’s how I was feeling Friday night. I hope everyone has the opportunity to experience things like this in their own lives. Whether it’s music or some other kind of art, it serves to remind us to not miss the wonders that are around us.

If you don’t get it, that’s OK.

I’ve listened to Journey for almost a lifetime. I’ve heard people joke and minimize the quality and relevance of Journey’s music. I’m OK with that. What I know is the importance the music plays in my life and the lives of many others around the world.

A Journey looney.

In my earlier post, Portrait of a Journey Fan, I mentioned Steve Perry being the “true” voice of Journey. An anonymous comment mentioned something about me being a “Perry looney”. What this reminded me was how passionate people are about Journey, the music and the band members. What I can say is that Steve Perry has been and will likely always be an inspiration to me. Another, very nice comment after that thanked me for sharing. My post was picked up on Arnel Pineda’s official site, again with friendly comments. That made my day!

Back in June, I was watching CBS Sunday Morning and a story about Arnel Pineda. That was the first time in quite a while that I’ve believed Journey’s music could truly be brought to life again. I went out and bought Journey “Revelation” that very same day. Arnel, Neal, Jon, Ross & Deen have not disappointed us.

What I can say about Friday’s show is this:

Arnel, you made me believe again. Thank you.

Hope you enjoy some of my pictures from the show!

Journey Life Music

Portrait of a Journey Fan

At the time of this writing (a little after 11pm on Thursday, October 2nd) I’m anticipating attending my next Journey concert. It’s been just about two years since I last saw Journey in concert. As a die-hard fan of their music, I’ve made every effort to see the band perform whenever they tour and have dates here in Arizona. My first Journey concert was October 8th, 1986 at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan.  Yes, that’s right.  I said 1986.  And yes – Steve Perry was singing then.  Between then and now, I’ve probably been to a dozen Journey concerts. Tomorrow, Friday October 3rd, Journey is performing at Cricket Pavilion here in Phoenix, Arizona with their new singer, Arnel Pineda. Just a few days shy of twenty-two years since my first Journey concert.

Before you challenge my true loyalty to the “real” Journey, let me just say that, to me, Steve Perry is THE real voice of Journey. But the music and the performances by the rest of the band members were the vehicle that allowed Steve Perry to soar. That being said, Journey’s music has been a part of my life almost as long as I can remember. I got my first Journey album, “Infinity”, for my birthday in April, 1978 – over thirty years ago!  I was nine years old and just beginning to find my own way in music. Although I almost wore the album out from repeated playings, I still have it and several others today. AND – I still have a turntable to play it on. I could probably even tell you where every scratch, hiss and pop are on that record.

Here I am today:

Here I am, still a Journey fan.
Still a Journey fan.

As you can probably see, I’ve collected a few things along the way. Well, maybe more than just a few things: