Surprisingly simple PVC pipe speakers are clear shining performers.
While tidying up my workshop, I found some clear 3″ PVC pipe left over from a spud gun project (the Nightlighter 36 taser-powered potato cannon in MAKE Volume 03). Clear PVC is one of my favorite building materials, but it’s expensive, and since the last thing I need is another potato cannon, I wanted to come up with a project that would make good use of its unique qualities.
Clear PVC is stiff and dense, which makes it excellent material for audio speaker cabinets. I had seen uniquely shaped speakers made from regular white PVC, so I wondered if clear tubing could make decent-sounding cabinets that also generate lighting effects.
I connected an iPod (playing ZZ Top’s “La Grange”) to a 20-watt amplifier and a small speaker, and played around with different configurations of LEDs on the speaker wire. The best visuals, I found, came from simply connecting 3 ultra-bright LEDs in series, in parallel with each speaker. Voilà! At moderate volume and above, the same audio signal both drove the speaker and pulsed the LEDs in time with the music — and I discerned no difference in the speakers’ sound with or without the LED load.
Introducing the Sound-O-Light Speakers. They’re easy to build, they get surprisingly good sound out of their single 3″ drivers, and they look hella cool.
For bass reflex speakers:
For acoustic suspension speakers:
For powered/transistorized option:
In Volume 31’s “Sound-O-Light Speakers,” the vented build option is not a true bass reflex design (see reader Louis Lung’s letter, here). Also, author Bill Gurstelle’s Night Lighter 36 spud gun project is from MAKE Volume 03, not 04.