It's hump day and I was looking for a quick, fun project to try out. So I figured I try something easy I found over at the Make Magazine blog earlier this week—a set of speakers made from paper cups and a pair of earbud headphones originally created by artist Dmitry Zagga (in no small amount of jest). The PaperCup speakers are based on the principle of a megaphone: Energy from sound waves from the earbuds would normally disperse in all directions. Instead, the cups focus the sound waves in a particular direction, making it louder for those in front. While pretty self-explanatory, I figured I'd whip up a how to, especially since the folks at my local coffee shop were happy to provide the materials for free.
- A pair of earbud headphones.
- Four paper drink cups
- Two toothpicks or skewers
- A small knife or scissors
First poke a hole in the side of the cups that will be the "speakers" resting on the base cups. I eyeballed it about a third of the way up from the base of the cup, along the seam.
Cut a cross with one long and one short axis in the back of the speakers. Insert the earbuds all the way through the holes until only the wire is outside the cup.
Now, reach in with your finger and push the flaps of paper out a bit to create an indent where the back of your earbud can rest. Pull the earbuds back through the hole until they're nestled against the back of the cup.
I chose to tape the bases of the earbuds to the back of the cup to make sure the speaker portion is facing out towards the mouth of the cup and not dangling down or pointing to the side of the cup.
Poke the toothspick or skewer through the bottom of the base cups, and slide the speaker cups on where you made your initial cut. Tada! You've got yourself a pair of speakers.
Now these aren't very loud (for comparison, the speakers on my MacBook were much louder). And the bass response is abysmal. So I tweaked the equalizer setting in iTunes a bit. The stereo picturing is pretty good if placed equidistant from your ears and pointed toward you. If you want to listen to music quietly but don't want to put headphones on, or are concerned about ear fatigue or hearing damage, it's just the thing. I could see coming up with these in a pinch, MacGyver-style, on a camping trip. How would you improve them to make them louder? Share your ideas and pictures in the comments.