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DIY speakers made with e-textiles never cease to amaze me. There is something magical about feeling the vibrations and hearing the (tinny) sounds via an everyday material such as fabric or paper. I also love the way that this demonstrates a materiality of sound in a tangible way.

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The basic principle is to make an electromagnet. Flow of electricity creates an electromagnet in conductive traces (such as copper thread or tape). Coiling makes this electromagnet stronger (also, the larger the coil, the larger the magnetic field). Attach this to a LM386 amp (or other amp, this is just the one I use) and run an oscillating current through it (i.e., music from an Mp3). Add a magnet to the coil or put it on a conductive metal surface. The oscillating current (from the Mp3 music) changes the polarity of the electromagnetic field, which causes it to either repel or attract to the magnet / metal. This movement (the repelling and attracting coil) also causes the fabric or paper to move, pumping sound waves towards your ears.

Recently I have been playing with waste materials such as plastics.

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References / inspiration:

Claire Williams (2016), Vibrating Coil

Irene Posch and Ebru Kurbrak (2012), Knitted Coil

Kobakant, Fabric Speakers

 


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