Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The iPhone Bamboo Speaker Dock that Ate My Kitchen

Last Bulk Trash Day, a neighbor had sent me on a month long trip of woodworking joy.

I had seen a project on Kickstarter called the iBamboo Speaker and thought that it was so simple that even I could build one.  So after mulling it around in my head, I decided that I would try it if ever I came across some suitable bamboo.

It turns out that suitable bamboo was growing in a neighbor's yard and when they cut some of it down to throw it out, I grabbed two six foot lengths of the stuff and took it home.  What you need is bamboo that is roughly the size of your wrist.  You also need time, a miter box, some hand tools, and you can build one of these things in about an hour or two. 

I suggest if you really do want to try this, cure the bamboo either by air drying or in the oven at 212F for at least 4 hours.  That will harden the bamboo lumber.  If you get cracks, it will be before you invest a lot of time in your work.  One of my tablet sized docks split lengthwise so that one will remain mine.

By the time I ran through all of my bamboo, I had made these four plus a couple of failed projects and some variations on the theme like a "supersized" one for my tablet.

iPhones have only one speaker on the bottom plus a microphone port.  It doesn't require separation of the channels, so I built my phone sized docks out of the smooth center of each "joint" of bamboo.

The tablet I have, Samsung Galaxy 2 7.0, has two speakers on the bottom, so the larger tablet docks are all built so that the tablet sits on the joint giving proper stereo separation.  Since tablets are larger, the extra length helps the dock stay upright because of the added mass of the bamboo.

These things actually do add amplification through resonance.  If you doubt that, find some music on your phone and put it speaker side down in a small bowl or large glass and you will see the result.  In this case, the bamboo just looks nicer.

The people at www.ibamboospeaker.com will sell you their speaker docks online.  Theirs are more polished, using lasers to cut the holes and so forth.  I used an old hack saw, leatherman tools and built them out in my back yard giving a "shop class" look.  The ones I'm going to keep will get finished and stained. The ones I'm planning on giving as gifts I may not stain, I haven't quite decided yet what I will do there.  My friend who will get one has Android phones, and the speakers are not all in the same place. This means the mount hole for the phone may need to be widened "on site".

A bit of Sunday fun in the back yard with sharp tools.  No, I did not run with scissors.

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