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DIY, or don’t

PopMech asks a silly question.

How to Make a Bluetooth Speaker Out of Just About Anything
Why buy a Bluetooth speaker when you can make one that perfectly fits your style?

When it comes to Bluetooth speakers, there are hundreds of options ranging in price from around twelve dollars to more than a thousand. But why buy one when you can build one that not only blends in with your décor but also will impress your friends?

Ummm…counterquestion: why go to all the hassle of building one when you can buy one for twelve bucks that will work just as well?

Understand: as an inveterate tinkerer and customizer, it pains me to utter such blasphemy, it truly does. Throughout my entire life, I’ve always been all about building it myself, tweaking it, making it better or cooler or more functional according to my own personal definition of those words. But at a certain point, the practical considerations come into play. To wit:

The parts for this 50-watt Bluetooth speaker project aren’t expensive and the process isn’t very difficult. If you have basic supplies like speaker wire and solder, it’ll cost just under $100.

Uh huh. Yeah, no.

When I was locked up in hospital durance vile all those months after getting various body parts chopped off, a close friend of mine bought me a little Bluetooth speaker to connect to my phone so’s I could listen to the classical radio station all day without having to keep the phone right by my pillow so that I could hear its tiny, tinny little speakers struggling away with the sweeping, swooping dynamics and frequency ranges of classical music. It even had a fancy psychedelic light show built in, which was customizable in all sorts of different ways at the press of a button. Price: about twenty bucks.

And THAT’S when I stopped reading the article and clicked on through to someplace else.

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2 thoughts on “DIY, or don’t

  1. I’m with you, and I’ve designed and built many electronic contraptions in my life. The first radio I built with Dad’s help was age 6, then we built a transistor radio to pick up FM when I was 9 or 10. But that was all about education*, and that is the only reason you would build your own $20 speaker with a $100 dollar bill.

    I have a small bluetooth speaker I paid maybe 10 bucks for that travels in my backpack for when I’m out of the country. It’s sounds remarkably good.

    *it was cheaper then to buy rather than build just as it is now with the possible exception of high end amplifiers. I built a nice vacuum tube amp for half the price of the name ones around 1966.

  2. I’m going to have to go with a big “it depends”.

    • Will a purchased product give you what you need? Do you have some special need or desire?
    • How much free time do you have, valued against how much spare cash you have?
    • Do you have most of the parts already on hand?
    • Is this an excuse to acquire more tools or componentry?
    • Are you teaching someone how to do this?
    • Are you building it because you enjoy it more than to get the end product?
    • What is the quality or durability of what you build compared to that of what you buy?
    • Are you doing it to show off to others what you can do?

    Mostly I’ll buy something which does what I need, or most of what I need, because my free time is so limited. (And, as I regularly complain, comes in small chunks. It’s difficult to make something if you can put only a few minutes at a time into it.) It’s usually cheaper, almost always takes less time, and half the time is better than what I’d be able to build. However, I’ll sometimes build something with The Child or others in order to show how it’s done and more importantly that “ordinary people” can build things. (Or fix things. A lot of people, including adults, have no idea that “ordinary people” can fix a washing machine or replace a ceiling light with a light/fan or even changed the brakes on a car.)

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