Turning on PC speakers whenever there is music playing

If you’re like a lot of people, most of the time your computer speakers are on without actually playing any music. This wastes a bit of power, and [Bogdan] thought he could create a circuit to cut down on that wasted electricity. The result is a very tiny auto-on circuit able fit inside a pair of speakers.

The circuit is built around the ATtiny13, very nearly the smallest microcontroller available with an on-board ADC. When music is played on the computer, the ATtiny senses a bit of voltage in the audio line and switches a relay to power the speaker.

Of course, there is always the problem of music with a high dynamic range; if the sound played from the computer has too low of a volume, the ATtiny might turn the speakers off even if music is playing. [Bogdan] solved this problem by adding a timer to his code; if nothing is detected by the ADC for three minutes, the speakers turn off.

Automatic speaker control via TV

[Jon] wanted his speakers to come on and off along with his TV. The speaker heats up if left on so he didn’t want to do that. But killing the power also resets the volume level (this is an old set of PC speakers and the remote is wired, not IR) so using one of those switched power strips was out as well. He thought a bit about trying to use the power LED on the TV to build his own circuit when it dawned on him. It’s possible to monitor the USB port on the TV and use it to switch on the speakers.

The circuit above uses a couple of opto-isolators to protect both the television and the speakers. The 5V line from the USB port on the back of the TV is monitored by an XNOR gate (which helps to filter out some of the toggling at power-on). When that gate latches it activates a 555 timer which in turn fires up the speakers. Presumable this happens when power is cut as well, but we’ll let you work through the circuit logic yourself.

Convert a speaker to a battery-powered amplifying party box

[Matt the Gamer] loved his pair of Minimus 7 bookshelf speakers. That is until a tragic hacking accident burned out the driver and left him with a speaker-shaped paper weight. But the defunct audio hardware has been given new life as a single portable powered speaker. Now he can grab it and go, knowing that it contains everything he needs to play back audio from a phone or iPod.

The most surprising part of the build is the battery. [Matt] went with a sealed lead-acid battery. It just barely fits through the hole for the larger speaker, and provides 12V with 1.2 mAh of capacity. He uses an 18V laptop power supply when charging the battery. The PSU is just the source, his own circuit board handles the charging via an LM317 voltage regulator. Also on the board is an amplifier built around a TDA2003A chip. He added a back panel which hosts connections for the charger and the audio input. Two switches allow the speaker to be turned on and off, and select between battery mode and charging mode. As a final touch he added a power indicator LED to the front, and a drawer pull as a carrying handle.

Six foot speaker shakes buildings to their foundation

In the first scene of Back to the Future, [Marty McFly] visits the unoccupied laboratory of [Doc Brown]. Seeing an 8-foot-tall speaker connected to a huge array of amplifiers, [Marty] immediately turns on the amps, plugs in an electric guitar, and promptly destroys the amps and speaker while being thrown across the room. This scene must have been a huge inspiration to [Dan] and [Kyle]; they decided to replicate this gigantic speaker for the 2011 UW-Madison  Engineering Expo.

A speaker is a remarkably simple device – they’re usually just a coil of wire, a set of magnets on an iron frame, and a cone. [Dan] and [Kyle] wound hundreds of feet of copper wire around a fiberglass frame for the voice coil, used 8 and 10-inch steel pipe to secure the magnets, and pop riveted two sheets of polycarbonate together to form the cone. The result is a six-foot-diameter speaker in an 8x8x2 foot enclosure.

A speaker this size is only good for one thing: a ton of bass. The speaker can reliably reproduce frequencies from 5 Hz to 50 Hz, frequencies that are better felt than heard. There’s a video of the speaker in action after the break, but we’re pretty sure the best way to experience this insane device is in person.

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SpeechJammer puts an end to annoying speakers

If you’ve ever had to deal with people disturbing your peace and quiet by yammering on with their cell phones, you might be interested in the SpeechJammer.

The idea behind the SpeechJammer is fairly simple: It’s very hard to speak if your words are recorded and played back to you a fraction of a second later. This is a real psychological phenomenon known as delayed audio feedback that also has a beneficial effect on stuttering.

According to the researcher’s writeup (PDF warning), the SpeechJammer works by measuring the distance to the ‘target’ with an ultrasonic distance sensor and records the speaker’s voice with a shotgun mic. The recording of the spearker’s voice is delayed for about a fifth of a second and then played on a speaker on the front of the gun.

The researchers tested two conditions: ‘reading news aloud’ and a ”spontaneous monologue.’ Subjects who were reading news aloud had their speech jammed more often than those with the monologue, but the results look fairly promising. There’s only one video of the SpeechJammer in action (available after the break), so we’d like to see a few Hackaday readers build their own ‘shut up gun’ and send in a demo with an annoying talker to validate the results.

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Fill in the bass on your PSP

[Michael Chen] felt the sound his PSP was putting out needed more dimension. Some would have grabbed themselves a nice set of headphones, but he grabbed his soldering iron instead and found some space where he could add a bigger speaker.

Mobile devices tend to cram as much into the small form factor as possible so we’re surprised he managed make room. But apparently if you cut away a bit from the inside of the case there is space beneath the memory card. [Michael] cautions that you need to choose a speaker rated for 8 ohms or greater  in order to use it as a drop-in replacement for one of the two original speakers. But he also touches on a method to use both stock speakers as well as the new one. He suggests grabbing an LM386 op-amp and a capacitor and hooking them up. Yep, there’s room for that too if you mount it dead-bug-style. We wonder how the battery life will be affected by this hack?

Single-column Rubens’ tube

Here’s a fiery project which [Patrick] calls his Pyro Jam Can. It’s the simplest Rubens’ Tube build that we can think of. For the uninformed, a Rubens’ tube uses flammable gas to reveal wave forms passing through the supply vessel. In the past we’ve seen projects with multiple columns, which very clearly show a standing wave. But this version lacks the resolution for that, so the wave is seen as a modulated flame height.

You can see the propane feed tube coming into the can from the right. This keeps the gas flowing steadily, but a diaphram on the bottom of the can made of a latex balloon allows for modulations in flame height by pushing the gas through the aperture a bit faster than it is flowing. A speaker in the base bounces sound waves off of the diaphragm for the effect seen in the video clip after the break.

We wonder if the can will ever heat up enough to melt the balloon on the other end?

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