.: Amplified PC speaker hack
July 6th, 2003


This is a quick tutorial to hacking a pair of amplified PC speakers for use in a MAME cabinet.  This particular combination of parts is fairly inexpensive and results in nice sound and a professional looking installation.


Step 1:  Find a suitable (cheap) pair of PC speakers

I found these at Labtec Spin 50's (Labtec # LCS1050) at Officemax for $9.98.  Besides the price, I was also looking at the construction of the speakers to find something that would be easy to take apart since all I'm really interested in is the amp and sound card mini-plug.  Many cheap PC speaker enclosures are glued together and require some destructive effort to remove the guts from the enclosures.  These particular speaker enclosures were screwed together and the guts literally fell out after I opened the case.  The PCB was held in place just by grooves in the enclosure, no glue or screws.  In the below photo, you can see that I have already cut the speaker wires from the pcb and attached female quick disconnects.

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Step 2:  The cabinet speakers

I wanted to use speakers that were a bit larger than used with the PC speakers and also that would be easy to install and give a more authentic sound.  Bob Roberts carries exactly what I needed:  4" shielded speakers that are priced just right @ $4 each.


Step 3:  The grilles

Finding speaker grilles that look decent on an arcade cabinet are not very easy to come by.  And finding them in the correct size to fit your speakers seems even harder.  However, I lucked out when I was browsing through my Wico catalog and I came across some 4" grilles that seemed like they would be perfect for my application.  At $1.30 each I couldn't go wrong here, either.

The Wico grilles have plastic studs so they will go through the cabinet and the speaker mounting holes for a boltless installation.  The plastic studs are sized for #10-24 nuts and the nuts will cut the threads when you screw them on.  Wouldn't ya know it, the studs on the Wico grilles fit the speakers from Bob Roberts exactly!



Step 4:  Installation

The installation is very straightforward; just lay out the speaker hole and mounting stud locations by tracing the speaker mounting plate and cut/drill as required.  Install the speaker grille from the front, attach the speaker on the rear side of the wood panel, and use #10-24 nuts to secure everything together.

The red wires from the PC speaker pcb connect to the wide tab on the speakers, and the black wire goes to the narrow tab.  Plug the 1/8" mini-plug from the PC speaker pcb to your soundcard speaker output and plug in the AC adapter.

The combination of the PC speaker amp, 4" cabinet speakers, and the plastic grilles gives a very nice sound and a great looking installation for an arcade cabinet, especially in a cocktail such as this one.

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Total cost for project (not including tax/shipping):

Amplified PC speakers www.officemax.com $9.98
(2) 4" shielded speakers www.therealbobroberts.com $8.00
(2) 4" speaker grilles www.wicothesource.com $2.60








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