Tuesday, June 29, 2010

New sound system installed

Ever since R2 became operational, the sound system was something I wanted to re-visit.

Previously I was using USB-powered, 1.5 watt external speakers.  And while they could not go very loud without distortion, for most one-on-one type interactions, they sufficed.  

However as time went on, all those beeps and chirps were taking their tool.  Volume was limited to a lower level until it was obvious the speakers were failing. 

I thought I had a solution that would work with different, un-powered speakers.  While they worked on my laptop, they didnt on the netbook since it doesnt push as much voltage out the audio out port.

I searched for solutions and some suggestions were made...however due to a very limited budget, I had to backburner those ideas.

Then...I ran across a deal that I couldn't pass up.  At my local WalMart, I spotted a 300-watt car amplifier on sale for $50!  I had given up on finding anything lower than 800-watt locally.  Making it harder to walk away was it was the only one on the shelf.  Ugh!  So I picked that up off the shelf and figured out how it would fit in R2 and work.  I picked up a Pioneer 140 watt speaker set for $34.  The last piece of the puzzle was the cable that goes from the netbook audio/headphone jack to the amplifier's RCA input plugs.  That was easy to find for under $5.

Not a bad haul for trip to WalMart for automotive fuel line cleaner!

So here's the pile of pieces all setup for testing with my old MP3 player...

I knew the amplifier would fit inside the frame ok, it just needed a hole or two to be drilled and screwed into place.  The speakers would be the bigger challenge.

After removing the back plate behind R2's utility arms, it was pretty clear I only had room for one speaker.  Being a curved surface added to the complexity but I used some 10-24 thread screws and female-female couplers to attach it into position.

Mounting this into R2 wasn't too bad.  The giant magnet kept grabbing the screwdriver, so at times I felt like I was battling the Force or something!

I had to get creative with one part of the wiring...the amplifier has a REM jack where it would expect to get the "on" signal from a stereo.  After a lot of searching, plugging that lead to a positive power lead would suffice.

With it all setup, I did some testing...and wow, what a world of difference!