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Old 13th December 2012, 02:48 AM   #1
KodeTen is offline KodeTen  United States
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Default Themed Stereo or 2.1 DIY Build: Seeking first timer tips

Good evening DIYAudio!

Finally popping up to see if I can get a few pointers on how to go about building this system as this would be my first time delving into a "from scratch" DIY build and I will readily admit, after several days of scouring Google and reading multiple tutorials, a lot of it is over my head.

As it is right now my computer is running on-board audio to a Wal-Mart Special Altec Lansing 2.1 Speaker set.
I've modified the set to add length to the wires but that's my only experience so far with modding or building audio.

I'm interested in, as a future project, building a set of L-shaped desks that house the entire computer within one portion of the desk, with both desks having a sort of militaristic sci-fi theme based upon a particular series and movie both me and her have come to love.
More on that later as the planning and project progresses, what I'd like to do is start everything off by building a Stereo, or, if I can figure it out, a 2.1 arrangement with satellite subwoofer (or woofer? Not sure which would be the correct term) within the theme to kick off the whole DIY fest and get the creative gears turning.

Basically, I'm looking to build the speakers into enclosures that are cut out surplus ammunition cans. I understand these cans may not be the most ideal in dimensions but I'm willing to sacrifice absolutely pristine audio quality for aesthetics in this particular case.

The primary goal of this project is the aged, sci-fi, military aesthetics of using ammo cans as enclosures, custom-built wires with the look of old military cabling (thinking of building and braiding then sheathing with paracord and artificially aging the plug housings)
Secondary goal is to get good sound quality from the set through selection of appropriate components within budget, and proper modification of the enclosures
Final goal is maximum bang-for-buck potential, I'm challenging myself to build this with minimal dollars spent.

I know, the final goal is probably cliche.

Based upon my research I was thinking of building the set based upon one of the inexpensive Lepai amps available on Amazon, as an option I was considering deconstructing the amp into a third (or fourth) Ammunition box and re-mounting the controls on the box to continue with the military theme (covered switches, aged pot caps and so on)
Would also use that opportunity to follow a few tips found on the web to upgrade specific components within the amp to improve quality, provided I felt brave enough to do so

I'm getting ahead of myself. The questions I have are:

What would be a good suggestion for an Audio newbie like myself as far as actual speakers? I'm not afraid to dig into bargain bins online and such but I'm confused as to exactly what I'm looking for considering my needs.
From what I can tell, it seems that to run an actual 2.1 system would require some general wiring trickery and self-construction of a crossover for the application. I'm not sure if I'm capable of delving that deep into it just yet without much more research, is this the case or am I missing something entirely? Would one of the Lepai Tripath amps support this?

If a 2.1 system proves beyond me, can I still expect to match the rumble I've come to enjoy from my Altec Lansing set if I were to build my DIY set in a Stereo arrangement? I understand the (sub?)woofer on the Altec Lansing set, hell the whole set in general is probably crap, but it's the best-sounding crap I've had on my desk to date.

I'm not hoping for you guys to take too much of your time spelling it out in crayon for me, I'm generally pretty good at figuring out whats in front of me, so a slap on the back of the head and a point in the right direction and I'll "kill kill take the hill" off that-a-way and be very grateful. Thanks much for any advice.
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Old 13th December 2012, 08:00 AM   #2
Enzo is offline Enzo  United States
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Just one thought, as someone who has been in various parts of show biz forever, what matters is the impression rather than the reality. it is not necessary to actually beam Scotty up to the Enterprise, it only has to look like we did. I am suggesting consider that your cables and connections themselves need not be all aged and funky. You can have decorative funky cables that are non-functional and the real cables are hidden behind. Of course if having them function is part of your fun, then go for it.

Instead of making your speakers really be in fuel cans, the fuel cans can be dummy screens in front of real conventional - and good sounding - speaker enclosures. Unless you need them to move around, you could even cut the fuel cans in half and omit the unseen rear side

I appreciate your vision, I have a space ship in my garage. Over the years I have collected various pieces of equipment from surplus and elsewhere, just for their control panels. I don;t care what it was as long as it has dials and switches and meters and stuff. I have "the bridge" of some imaginary space ship, switches and knobs and stuff everywhere. It does nothing yet, the plan was to make the controls work some circuits to drive indicator lights and move meters, but we haven;t got that far. SO I am not laughing at you.

You could easily integrate a stereo system controls into a panel, your power amp and other parts could be mounted under the desk rather than trying to stuff them into cans. Then your cans and other things can be whatever size and shape you like.

Woofer and sub-woofer are not the same thing. Both are low frequency drivers, but the woofer is generally part of a two or more way speaker, while subwoofers generally are stand alone things meant to produce only the very low frequencies, like the rumble. Your ear is not very directional at low frequencies, so a subwoofer can be mounted on the floor, out of the way.
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Old 13th December 2012, 08:05 AM   #3
freax is offline freax  Australia
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you might want to consider that the military doesn't even use ammo cans for equipment it uses rackmount for almost everything both mobile and stationary, but if its all that youve got..

I would get your ammo can and put a wooden frame on the inside of it thats bolted to the surrounding edges and then get some copper or aluminium and make up a front panel for each of the ammo cans.

And as far as speakers with a military theme goes, I would mount them directly onto the chassis with a steel wire mesh shroud over them and a toggle switch beside them, possibly also a couple of old phone handsets off of payphones, one red, the other blue.

Then mount the lepai amps inside of the ammo can boxes.

Then put them ontop of your desk as if they were speakers, turn them on, and enjoy.
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Last edited by freax; 13th December 2012 at 08:14 AM.
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Old 14th December 2012, 01:53 AM   #4
KodeTen is offline KodeTen  United States
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Thanks for the thoughts so far. That's funny freax, last I checked when I went to the field an on deployments with my units we used ammo boxes for quite a number of things other than ammo ;-)

To give a little perspective, my inspiration for the project is located here! My project will be less so two speakers in one box and moreso one speaker per box (or two, if I add tweeters I suppose!)

While I appreciate the showmanship suggestions, all components will be functional in this particular project. While eventually my entire workspace will have this sci fi military theme, this particular speaker arrangement will be the first step and completely stand-alone.

My big stumbling blocks right now are:

Coming from a 2.1 system, should I make the attempt at building another 2.1 system, or focus on a stereo system in this particular themed arrangement?
What would be a decent quality low-cost brand to look into as far as drivers for this project, if 2.1, what subwoofer should I seek out?
And...
Just how the hell can one wire up a 2.1 project without self-bulding crossovers, or is that even possible?

Thanks again everyone
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