Wireless Helmet Speakers Receive A+ For Distracting Wearer

What could be better than cruising around town on your fave scooter? Cruising around town on your fave scooter listening to some cool tunes, of course! [sswanton] was enrolled in an Industrial Design course and was tasked with creating a wireless radio project for a specific user (of his choice). He decided to add some wireless speakers to a motorcycle helmet and design a handlebar-mounted radio.

Helmet Radio[sswanton] started out by disassembling the ultra-inexpensive, old-school, battery-powered Sony ICF-S22 radio specified by the class. The stock case was discarded as he would have to make a new one that fits onto the bike’s handlebars. Plywood makes up majority of the frame while the cover is black acrylic. Getting the acrylic bent required heating to 160 degrees so that it could be bent around a form [sswanton] created specifically for this project. A few cutouts in the case allows the rider to access the volume and tuning knobs.

The speakers added to the helmet were from wireless headphones and came with a matched transmitter. The transmitter was removed from it’s unnecessarily large case, installed in the radio’s newly created enclosure and connected to the radio’s headphone output. Situating the headphone components in the ideal locations of the helmet required that the headphones be disassembled. The speakers were placed in the helmets ear cups. Part of the original headphone case and some control buttons were mounted on the outside of the helmet for easy access. The wires connecting the components had to be extended to reconnect the now spread-out parts.

In order to hear that sweet music all the rider needs to do is turn on the headphones and radio. Check this out to see some more helmet speakers, this time a little more wacky.

27 thoughts on “Wireless Helmet Speakers Receive A+ For Distracting Wearer

  1. Putting aside how dangerous it would be for someone to actually use this in their helmet while riding, it’s a good project.

    I like that it covers the electronics, the mould/case making and everything in between.

    It’s a bit bulky but does the job and looks quite professional.

  2. It looks a bit difficult to waterproof, what with those big slots for the controls on the side, and the gap between the plywood and the acrylic. Also, it’s frakking HUGE. Where on the handlebars of a real-world bike does this fit?

  3. Dangerous, There are several manufacturers of bluetooth enabled helmets. Some of whom are known for making the safest helmets money can buy. Listening to music while on a two wheeled vehicle is not dangerous, so long as you can still hear the environment around you. Regardless, Nice build.

  4. As dangerous as fiddling with tuning a radio is, headphones are actually great on a motorcycle. First even in a quality helmet wind noise is around 100DB not to mention engine noise so hearing protection is a must. Ear buds that block some sound are great because you can send your navigation, and verbal speed to keep your eyes on the road so you can avoid oblivious drivers merging into your lane.

  5. Horrible concept well executed. I ride and I know people who ride with earbuds or headphones in their helmets and I honestly cannot think how they can cope. Even when I have a pillion passenger, taps on the back and the odd point are enough for what level of attention I should devote to conversing with them.
    Staying alive is such a important business when you are so vulnerable to other people’s mistakes that I get off not even having much actual perception of how much time has passed in the journey, I’m just on it focused the whole time. I might look and I’ve been two hours but it honestly feels like it should be 15 minutes or so.
    The closest to inflight updates I get is when I’m on a long journey I dont know, I tape the major place names on the route into a envelope on the top of my tank that I can glance at to know roughly where to head for that I prepare before the trip. Nothing detailed, no road names or junction numbers just head for “xyz”. Possibly this changes if you are on some lardy cruiser type (but what about everyone else still?), but I’m always on something that will bite me if I let it and thats where my experience is from.

    Having said that, the ideas apart from the basic premise of “entertainment” while riding are good, you wouldn’t mount this on the handlebars, it would be tucked away under the seat or in a side pannier or top box or similar. Depends on the bike where you would find that you could put it and keep it out the worst of the spray that kills everything not super sealed up. And not having a wire to remember to unplug when you stop for gas or similar is always a advantage.

      1. People go mtb’ing, skate, throw themselves out of perfectly working aeroplanes etc for fun, and I can understand why, but only because I have done things which appear to people with no experience of the same to offer no benefits to the uninitiated with a preset view.

        Sometimes you have to live a little to be truly alive.

        1. Whatever floats your boat. I do things that are actually enjoyable to me in order to experience life. Whether they are risky activities or not, I really am not concerned what others think about it. I am pretty secure with myself.

          And if I don’t enjoy doing it, I don’t do it. Pretty simple.

          The feelings, emotions and actions that you just described above do not sound like you actually *enjoy* the experience at all. Hell, you said yourself that you can’t even remember it because you are too focused on not smashing into random objects.

          Maybe you were just engaging in philosophical hyperbole to exaggerate what is a rather mundane experience? I mean, really… its just riding a motorbike. We’ve trained monkeys and even bears to do it.

          1. I can remember the detail, the fun bits, the close calls, the earth sky incidents that inevitably happen every few years, I just have no perception of actual time whilst doing it.
            I can go out for a 10 minute ride to pick up something small from the store, and clock up 2-300 miles just meandering for the sake of it because I’m enjoying it so much I don’t want the ride to end. Sure you can write it off as “monkeys can do it” hyperbole, but thats just a cheap shot at insulting someone to get one up on a comment section, or you truly are that ignorant in which case my condolances.

            While I’m looking at datalogs from the race bike (megasquirt ms3 +msx efi with sd card as it goes) or I’m designing some part in cad, to load into my linuxcnc controlled machine, to make my bike that bit better or faster or more suited to myself. Or even if I’ve ran something off on my fdm printer (printrbot) that doesn’t need structural strength or as a prototype for something before committing it to metal, Thats not a process too many bears undertake. And when I get on that or any other of my bikes (I have 9), I’m not just turning some controls, I’m sampling the results.
            Race bike, the bespoke parts are all made in my shop to my own designs. One day I’m going to scratchbuild a whole engine from raw stock, on whatever machines I can scratch together, reverse engineer, refurbish or build myself. Shifter is controlled by a AtTiny on some proto board giving me a single button to select neutral-1-2-3 with programmable debounce and delays. I published the shifter code on the build thread on the internet too as it goes though you could do the same with 3 nand gates and a few discreet components so the AtTiny was overkill, but its arduino in place of a 555 syndrome I guess…
            http://oldskoolperformance.info/forum/download/file.php?id=4778&sid=5c2f0df98b4355fedb9dd130880aa910

            But yes, I am a monkey derivative, a really complex monkey. And you have no idea how deep the rabbit hole is.

    1. I was commuting 100 miles each way by bike and honestly don’t know how I would have coped without helmet speakers. I suppose a ZX-12 probably does count as a lardy cruiser :) I use my phone to play music radio and navigation/traffic updates though them via Bluetooth and keep the phone in my jacket pocket. If I drop below 65 I can even have a conversation. I find earbuds are passable in an emergency but a set of decent foam earplugs to block the wind noise is just so much more comfortable.

      1. Done that myself, “survived” 1200miles a week communting into central london by motorcycle for a year. Thats when your at your most vulnerable though, you know the route well, do it every day, a zx12 is well behaved and sanitised and will just settle down to the job in hand. Your mind starts to wander and thats when the unexpected will get you. Not when your misbehaving or riding something thats a handful with the adrenaline pumping, or have suicidal london cabbies and yuppies with a “kill the biker to stop him getting through gaps when i paid more for my vehicle” mentality.
        Its your neck, you get to choose and at least on a bike as the most likely to get injured in a event, you are probably not going to be making that choice for someone else too, but…
        I used to vary my route to keep it interesting, I had a few bikes so I could have one in for service and one for spare as a backup but they were all different makes/models. I would NEVER take a call in control of a vehicle. I have handsfree in the van, but the phone rings, I pull over and call the person back. It drives my wife wild that she has to wait but thats the rules. No distracted driving.

        1. This was into Central London too from the Dorset coast. Varied the route almost every day. Never found one I was comfortable with though and coming out is always worse than going in for some reason. Not saying I did take calls going along, just that I could and noise cancellation is good enough that the other end couldn’t tell I was mobile unless I gave the bike some beans.

    2. You and I must be in very different locales. When I was on my bike, it does take an intense amount of focus to feel safe on the road. More than what most 4-wheel drivers think about, because we have to analyse everything. The twitch of the wheel of the car in front, the way the driver moves their head, the pot holes, the animals, and so on. But because I wasn’t on a giant super bike (<3 my Honda PS-250) I didn't have to fight the machine in addition to all of that information processing. Also don't have all the dash display stuff, just a speedometer. Not even a clutch and shifter, because a numb left foot doesn't let one shift too well.

      But I always found that, even in small city traffic, I would be humming or mumbling about nothing. A little tonal ambient noise didn't phase me any, and made taking in all the surrounding information easier. And when it came time to duck into the tight curves on the mountain roads, I could stop humming and just listen to the motor and watch for animals.

      So I guess it's location, traffic, and mental processing. On my commute or grocery runs or other errands, I know every pothole, traffic light timing, merge patterns, blind corners, etc. Having a little music to keep the adrenaline down is useful, because you don't need a fight/flight response while in normal traffic. Having a fast off switch, though, is a must; you need to be able to mute all the distractions very quickly (I always thought that right next to the horn was a great spot). And then there is the need to turn down the hyper-vigilance. Being aware is one thing, but riding in a constant state of near paranoia isn't any fun and music is a way some people switch down that one gear. You can be safe while music is just playing; the cage drivers do it all the time ;-)

      It turned out to be a moot point in my state, since they ban "headphones or ear buds or ear plugs" while driving. In helmet speakers for music or communication in a group is allowed, but no one (cops) seems to know how an "in-helmet speaker" is different from "headphones". Used to be "custom molded ear protection" was allowed, but even that got a "no speaker unless it's a hearing aid" amendment.

  6. I have a Sena SMH10 headset on my helmet, it’s A2DP Bluetooth, and intercom to talk to other riders. There’s a new SHM20 that has a built in FM radio too. It’s no more a distraction than having a radio in my car, I don’t dick with it while riding because I basically can’t. Start a playlist and leave it until I can stop, I technically could dick around by using a voice assistant I guess. Probably saved him self $200 by DIY, though he probably could have gotten a smaller/cleaner/probablycheaper setup if he was looking just for radio by using one of those gum pack sized FM radio sticks – I have a bunch of those floating around.

  7. Nice home made version of what is a very common product you can buy for any helmet nowdays… I have had not only stereo audio in my helmet for years but now I have TWO cellphones linked via bluetooth, A2DP audio from my bikes stereo system as well as Amateur radio 2meter/440mhz and the GPS audio cues in my helmet wirelessly.

    My bike supported all that in 2003 via a single wire, and last year I upgraded to the Sena 20S to go fully wireless. Works great plus I have full intercom to my wife to her helmet as well. Full audio and comms in the helmet has been common since 1983 when my first touring bike, the Yamaha Venture Came with intercom and stereo radio+Cassette.

    1. Sure, that kind of stuff is commonplace. But it’s pretty good for what it is. It’s a school project where making something for a specific use out of a very dated old pocket radio. I doubt anyone was expecting the next disruptive new technological innovation out of this one.

      1. Actually the next disruptive tech could come out of a school project. He starts there and then figures out how to get a .98 inch OLED display as a type of HUD for his helmet as the next project. Most of the cool stuff invented comes out of the minds of tinkerers in schools and garages. Google Glass had it’s start back in the 90’s with Thad Starner and his school project.

  8. This is pretty fucking cool, I definitely would use this in rural wyoming hauling ass down the dirt roads that criss cross the state. It’s not dangerous if noone else is coming up behind you or can catch you.

  9. Should have gone the extra mile and added microphones on the outside of the helmet, and a little board (rPi?) that can determine whats wind-noise and whats other traffic, then mix the traffic sounds in with the music?
    Just a thought.

  10. Would have been easier to replace the volume pot with a panel mount type that’s nearly waterproof and dust proof as well.
    The tuning must be impossible to use while moving. Mono only, boo.
    A wire is worth no battery life and run time and charging hassles. A wire is worth not having hearing loss from Bluetooth protocol.
    If wire is run under jacket and run across tank, auto disconnect happens when dismounting. Easy.

  11. dare I even say it….

    Hacking up the
    spare XX AH 12 V battery (Fits behind Spider iii in wire compartment + 400 watt inverter (fits behind Spider iii in wiring compartment, yeah you need to MAKE IT FIT) + Line6 Spider III + Guitar + Guitar Cable + a Strong Guitar Strap + Strap LOKs + Bike + STRONG Bike Rack + LOTS of balance tuning and practice with the rig.

    Bonus points for adding a Lexicon or some vintage electro harmonix Wa Wa Pedal switching hackage (not sure how since feet busy peddling, maybe zipstrips? Who knows.)

    POD (Bass+Drum tracks) in + Guitar In.

    no hands steering, frees up hands from the driving making them available instead for sweep picking mayhem.

    Nothing COOLER, cept actually “flying” down the road.

    Nobody thinks of this yet?

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