One of my fave events in the region is the annual Unsilent Night walk in historic downtown Galt. I went in 2009 with my hillbilly amp, missed 2010, but was intent to make it to 2011′s walk! Basically, the idea is to download one of several ambient Christmassy songs onto a tape, CD or MP3 player, then play it out loud with other people, creating a harmonious cacophony of noise. You then walk along a guided path, enjoying the sights and sounds of Christmas. Galt had an assortment of art stops along the way in its library, school of architecture, and parks. It was extremely fun and I’m intent on doing it again next year!
I had a project rolling around in my mind. It seemed simple enough, and might actually work, so I decided to give it a shot. Basically, I wanted to not just play music, I wanted it to shoot from my hands! And with the magic of old electronics, I can do just that.
- 1 old pair of computer speakers with a wall-wart-style (I got a set of nice-sounding Altec Lansings from Talize)
- 1 disposable lunch container, sized to fit comfortably on your arm
- Enough elastic ribbon to wrap twice around an arm and the lunch container
- 1 MP3 player (I used a Phillips GoGear)
- 1 pair of cheap leather work mittens
- 1 battery holder (based on the voltage of the wall-wart – mine was 12 volts, so I used a case to hold 8 AAs (each is roughly 1.5v, 12V/1.5V = 8).
- First, snip the power cord from the computer speakers and save it (but chuck the plug at the end)
- Cut the power cord into two pieces – one long enough to go from one outstretched hand to the other, the other about 15 cm (though in retrospect it was too short – too short is far better than too long!)
- Then disassemble the speaker set. Mine’s was glued together, so I just bashed the case with a hammer. I saved the speakers and the amplifier (the circuit board that the speakers and power plug into). Luckily, I was able to trim the grilles down so it was just large enough for the speakers to drill into, so I held onto those pieces, and the speakers’ screws.
- Solder each lead from the battery case into each lead where the power plug goes.
- Cut the cords from the amplifier to one speaker, as the wiring needs to be extended to reach each hand.
- Solder each lead of the long electric cable to each cut cord from the amplifier, then solder the other end to the speakers. Then do the same with the other speaker and the short cord.
- Downloaded music to the MP3 player and hook it up to the contraption.
- Jam the amplifier, MP3 player, and battery pack into the lunch container.
- Cut the elastic ribbon into two. Glue them into loops on the lid of the container. You should be able to “wear” the container on your arm with the elastic holding the lid shut tight.
- Cut circles in the palms of the mittens about the same diameter as the speakers.
- Glue or screw the speakers into the mittens, facing out. Here, since I was able to keep the bits of grill the speaker attaches to, I just screwed the speakers into the grille through the mittens.
Have fun blasting music through your hands!
For me, the setup lasted a good two hours – long enough to have a leisurely Unsilent stroll.