Upcycle Old Speakers With C.H.I.P.

Sometimes you get a piece of hardware that’s so cool you can’t help but fix it back up. There are a lot of companies after that sweet, sweet Raspberry Pi money, and the $9 US Dollar C.H.I.P. is a very interesting contender for the space. We have been especially enjoying the stream of neat hacks and example projects they’ve been putting out.

In this case, [Peter] wanted to get a pair of walnut speakers up to modern standards. Already suffering from a glut of audio equipment in his personal space, he decided to sweeten the deal by adding support for his library of music.

The first step was ordering a new set of drivers to replace the aged 40-year-old ones occupying the set. After he got them installed, he added C.H.I.P., a power supply, an amplifier, and a 500GB hard-drive. The controlling software behind the installation is the venerable mpd. This way he can control the speakers from any device in his house as long as he had an interface installed for the daemon.

We’re glad these speakers didn’t end up in the garbage behind a goodwill somewhere, and they do look good.

18 thoughts on “Upcycle Old Speakers With C.H.I.P.

  1. Gotta rebuild the original drivers and re-cap the crossover! Also, speakers of that era were typically the sealed, “non-ported” type complete with gaskets around the drivers. Drilling holes for replacing parts and mounting stuff breaks that seal effectively ruining the warm sound of these older units.

    Over the years I’ve mastered the art of gluing new foam surround rings into woofers without ever removing them from the cabinet — saving the original seal.

    1. The community behind the PI was even smaller a few years ago but that didn’t prevent it from growing; supporting different products than mainstream ones requires courage but brings innovation.

    1. He could use a bit of foam I suppose, mount it on bolts between rubber washers. But hard drives are specced to take quite a bit of vibration, particularly the 2.5″ ones, having less mass. It’s mounted on the back, where there’ll be less vibrations. I wouldn’t be surprised if it lasted as long as any other hard drive.

      By the time it fails he can just stick a 4TB SD card in to replace it, they’ll be selling for pennies by then.

    2. Opinion has nothing to do with it..

      How exactly do you see this as problem? Unless the speaker boxes are generating in excess of several G’s worth of vibration (in which case you’ve got a bigger problem), then I doubt you’ll generate enough force to cause a head crash.

      1. Vibration. For desktop hard disk, vibration resistance is rather low (even if shock resistance is high).
        This is for seagate, 3.5″, 750Gb
        5–22 Hz: 0.25 Gs, Limited displacement
        22–350 Hz: 0.50 Gs
        350–500 Hz:: 0.25 Gs

      2. as fhunter indicated, vibration might not cause the head to crash, but can still cause issues. a couple years ago, i ran a car computer. for about a year, i went through 3 different platter hard drives, 1 ate itself and became un-bootable, and the other 2 were swapped out at different times due to playability issues–my first attempt to diagnose the issue. while driving, songs would randomly skip, and had inconsistent BSOD’s(drive down a bumpy road, over multiple speed bumps, nothing. drive down the smooth highway, skips). eventually upgraded to an ssd, which resolved all the issues i was having.

        i am still using those 2 platter drives as external hdd’s with none of the issues i experienced when they were installed in the car.

  2. It won’t cause as much damage as MP3’s and all that blurtooth stuff. When an android phone can play high def flac out of the box, that’s progress.
    Foam rims were the biggest sickness of planned failure. They new how to do it right, then the evil chemlords came in and… yuck.

    1. Foam rings are kind of a funny failure situation. They typically fail from disuse. People got a new system in the 80s/90s and stashed their old equipment. Capacitors and rings get crusty.

      Some of the old folks I deal with bought their “Hi-Fi” equipment in the 1970’s and with daily use and the occasional repair still works perfectly — even the foam rings.

      On a sad note… So many of my clients have passed away that I have a growing pile of pristine equipment given to me by relatives and by will. I’m having trouble using it all!

      1. I’ve got a great old 70s / 80s silver hifi amp. The volume control has gone, it keeps cutting out on the right channel as it’s turned. A bit of playing and you can usually find a point that works.

        Do you think a bit of spray contact cleaner would do the trick? Or should I replace them? It’s logarithmic for amps, right? Does the value actually matter a lot? Should be between signal and gnd, so I imagine pot value isn’t too important, it’s just a voltage divider.

        Any tricks or caveats I need to know? I’ll make a note of the electrolytic cap values but it’s functioning fine at the moment, so don’t wanna tempt fate unless I really need to.

  3. CHIP is a great little Wi Fi connected board which was devised a year before RP had any plans for wireless despite years of criticism about its lack of Wi FI connectivity effectively bumping the RP’s cost by $10 or so for a decent USB dongle.Finally with RP3 we see on-board connectivity but one must also look at the dollars; 9 vs 35

    1. Cloners and even counterfeiters (two very different things, not even correlation here) for obvious reasons duplicate what sells the most, hence the PI, Arduinos, expensive chips and parts, well known fashion brands etc. Also the lower price of the original could play a role; how much low could they go from $10?

      psst. dear cloners, would you consider making a clone of the MAX038?
      I mean a real working one, not the relabeled fakes sold on Ebay.

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