When I was a kid I loved to take things apart, like the family car or our Betamax player. These days I don't work with hardware much, so when I needed to modify a pair of tiny portable amplifiers for my performance in Dax Tran-Caffee's mobile street puppet show "The Museum Proper" in May, it was a refreshing experience.

While taking something apart is fun, my childhood reminds me that doing so can render the object useless. So, although the goal was simple, it was made much less scary by my friend Roger Young, who shared his very useful advice and equipment with me. Many thanks, Roger!

The problem I had is that my tiny portable Supro amps, in their factory state, are always turned on when an instrument cable is plugged in. Since I was going to be using them for several consecutive hours, I didn't want to drain the batteries more than necessary, and repeatedly unplugging and plugging in the cables would be cumbersome. The best solution I could come up with in my limited time was to interrupt the power flow with an on/off switch. Then the cables could stay plugged in -- which was handy because I'd be walking around strapped into a cigarette box the whole time -- and power could be saved by using the accessible switches.

Check out the photos below for my rough documentation of the process. Completion was quite satisfying, and reminded me why I loved electronics so much as a kid. If I ever get the time, I'd like to do more with hardware, like build a tone generator.

By the way, The Museum Proper was a freaky awesome show with scary cardboard puppets, and loads of fun to participate in. Here's the official website, where you can find pictures of the puppets and links to some performance footage:


a → Aattachment #7

Snip the wire from the battery's negative terminal. Solder the loose ends to two of the switch contacts.

a → Aattachment #8

These abandoned grill caps from a pair of studio monitors are perfect for protecting the wimpy plastic speaker cones. The diameter is just barely too small, so I bent the edge outward with pliers.

a → Aattachment #9

Carefully drill a hole where the switch will poke through. Fine tune the width with a tapered reamer. Cement the grill cap to the inside ridge of the frame.

a → Aattachment #10

Insulate the switch from the speaker with some masking tape. Fit the switch in the hole, then cram the rest of the parts back into place like sardines. Watch out for crossing deer.

a → Aattachment #11

This nipple thingy holds the speaker snugly in place, but the added grill makes things too tight, preventing the back half from properly closing. Sand or grind the spacer to get that space back.

a → Aattachment #12

Have a fun with 2 neu modified sound boxes!

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