Sarah Pease / Rhode Island School of Design
music or electronics hobbyists
audioJar is a simple, functional, and you can see right through it, in a good way. The creator took up David Mellis’s invitation to use his open source speaker circuitry in a new way or new embodiment. The glass jar design is “back-woods” charming while also marrying the modernist mantra of “form meeting function.” One can see the speaker guts, admire or study the electronics, all while enjoying a little moonshine. – Yury Gitman
The audioJar speakers are a set of DIY speakers compatible with any standard portable audio device. The speakers are constructed of readily available electronic components housed in conventional glass jars. Varying jar shapes and sizes can be mixed and placed on assorted feet for different looks and sounds.2. The Brief: Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the context for the project, and what was the challenge posed to you?
The audioJar speakers are a hacked version of David Mellis’ Fab Speakers, a product of his Master’s Thesis at the MIT Media Lab. The Fab Speakers require access to a laser cutter for production, and conceal the hand-soldered electronics within an ordinary plywood and fabric shell. Conversely, the audioJars are made from easily found glass jars that highlight the electronics inside. There is an added element of excitement, and an engagement with reuse, when you can finish off your jar of preserves and turn it into an accessory for your ipod with your own hands. This process is alternatively known as “jam to jams.”3. The Intent: What is the personal backstory; why did you create your DIY project? What point of view did you bring to the project?
The audioJar speaker set was a product of my time as a visiting student with the High-Low Tech group at the MIT Media Lab. I entered the group while still fully enrolled in my undergraduate program at the Rhode Island School of Design, ready to meet new challenges with a design perspective. Dave Mellis gave me the electronic components for his Fab Speakers so I could try my hand at assembling circuit boards and practice my soldering, hinting that he hoped my final product would advance his original design.4. The Process: Describe the rigor that informed your project. (Research, ethnography, subject matter experts, materials exploration, technology, iteration, testing, etc., as applicable.) What stakeholder interests did you consider? (Audience, business, organization, labor, manufacturing, distribution, etc., as applicable)
The challenge of this project was to find an existing object that was easily accessible, affordable, and had an aesthetic conducive to repurposing. I looked particularly for something that was reminiscent of the form language of average consumer speakers. The iconic Mason canning jars fulfilled this purpose well, as I discovered early one morning while spreading jam on my toast. These glass jars immediately replaced the less successful plastic bottle alternatives thanks to their standard mouth diameters, lasting material, and two-part lids. The design is open source, and intended to be completed with limited tools. All of the electronic materials can be easily sourced online, so each individual maker can order the parts needed to fulfill their own design.5. The Value: How does your project earn its keep in the world? What is its value? What is its impact? (Social, educational, economic, paradigm-shifting, sustainable, environmental, cultural, gladdening, etc.)
audioJar was designed with the intent to promote the “upcycling” of everyday objects that might otherwise be discarded, into accessories with new meaning. My project promotes the construction of one’s own electronics as a means of better understanding how they function. The exposure of the electronic components highlights the accomplishments of the maker, and can serve as a catalyst for future conversation about the inner workings of consumer electronics. The audioJar speakers will hopefully inspire designers and makers to consider the possible transformations of other objects, and to challenge the mystery behind the products we use every day.6. How does your project fit into the DIY category? (For eg: sharing the process, sourcing, entrepreneurship, accessibility/repeatability, skill sharing, etc.)
The audioJar speakers are an accessible project, and possible for someone with no related experience to complete in a day. The parts can easily be found around the house, at RadioShack, or online. The pair of speakers I made were completed using standard tools that many hobbyists use frequently: a Dremel tool for the glass, and a bandsaw, and sandpaper for the cork feet. audioJars allow for endless customization, encouraging DIYers to experiment with different sizes or kinds of jars, or new materials entirely. It is my hope that the audioJar speakers will inspire new ideas to reconsider utilitarian objects, and the ambition to construct repurposed creations of their own.