About this project
New Goal: If we can raise $14,000 or more, we'll be able to produce laser-cut enclosures for all donation levels $40 and higher! These will keep you safer from the plasma, and make the plasma speaker look really cool!
Update: We have reached the goal! Thanks for your help and support! We will be ordering a laser cutter as soon as the Kickstarter finishes, and we'll document the process via the update system. Stay tuned!
The Making of the First Prototype
Many of us own speakers. They're pretty useful devices, allowing you to hear sounds and music from computers, mp3 players, and other cool devices.
Most speakers use electromagnets to vibrate air so that you can hear it. We built a prototype plasma speaker, which uses an electric arc to vibrate the air. It both looks cool and sounds awesome!
We want to share our creation with the world, and put together an Instructables about our project.
Also, we want to make it easy for people to assemble a plasma speaker. By offering a kit with a custom-made PCB and a set of tested components, we will make everyone's life easier.
The $40 kit has almost everything you need except for two components. Here's what you need to know about them.
Flyback Transformer (Included in $60+ kits)
You'll need a flyback transformer to generate the high voltage in the plasma speaker. You can find one in an old CRT monitor or TV, and then identify the primary and secondary coil.
12V Power Supply (Included in $80 kits)
You'll need a 12V power brick to power the plasma speaker. From initial testing, we think that a 4 amp rating should be good, but we'll do some testing to find out the optimum. You can find a 12V power supply from old laptops.
You'll need a soldering iron and solder to assemble the kit. These go for a variety of prices, but you usually can find a decent one at Radio Shack or Fry's for about $20.
What your money will be used for
We'll use your money to refine our prototype, and put together kits for you to assemble. Take a look to the right for the packages!
Add $7 shipping for Canada/Mexico, or $10 for all other countries.
A Big Warning (AKA, DANGER!)
Plasma speakers are dangerous. Use them for short periods of time in well-ventilated areas. Also, make sure that no bodily parts go near the electric arc. Proceed with caution. If you aren't comfortable assembling the plasma speaker, find some help. We're not responsible for you, you're responsible for yourself.
Who We Are
We're StudentRND, a student-run nonprofit organization that inspires students to learn more about science and technology. During the summer, we run a workspace where students gather and work on cool science and technology projects. We also partner with local high school robotics teams to offer them a space to work over the summer. Follow our summer adventures at Facebook.com/StudentRND and @StudentRND on Twitter!
Yes! There will be an 1/8" TRS audio jack (the standard headphone jack) that you can plug into a computer or a mp3 player.
If you're trying to connect a microphone, guitar, or other audio peripheral which doesn't use a 1/8" TRS connector, you can connect it with an adapter or, if you're comfortable, by getting and soldering in a different input type yourself.
You'll find that 90% of things will connect directly, and 99.9% will connect with a $5-or-less adapter.
We're still testing, but we've powered our prototype with as low as 25 watts and as high as 125 watts so far. The more watts, the louder and clearer it sounds, but the hotter it gets. We think the final design will consume between 25-50W.
Compared to a normal speaker, this is not very efficient. The actual power usage is less than a halogen lamp, however.
No! In our testing we've found that under normal operating conditions the plasma speaker is perfectly stable. Each time we've burned out a component, it was because we were running it for a long time, running it at higher-than-supported voltages/currents, or misconnecting a component.
In any case, identifying and replacing a failed component is extremely easy and cheap. A parts and assembly guide is provided for all donor levels (even those with pre-assembled kits), which should make any repairs extremely simple.
This is not for the Dubstep enthusiast. The range of the plasma speaker is similar to the range of a tweeter (the small cone) in a traditional speaker -- it reproduces higher frequencies well, but low frequencies poorly. If you pair this with a woofer or subwoofer it sounds comparable to anything else.
On its own, we've found that the speaker sounds better than most builtin laptop speakers.
Plasma speakers are extremely dangerous. Even when assembled properly, the arc is at extremely high temperatures, requires extremely high voltages, and produces ozone as it runs. You should only use the plasma speaker for short periods of times in well-ventilated areas, and ensure everyone nearby is aware of the proper safety procedures.
If you choose the $40 level, you'll need to get your own flyback transformer. One of the most popular sources is an old monitor or TV, and extracting one carries severe danger. We recommend ordering one from an electrical parts distributor or choosing the $60+ levels.
Support this project
- (59 days)