Maker Faire

Portable Outdoor Sound Art System for Under $100, or, "Did You Hear That?"

Type: Maker Table/Exhibit
Program Area: Electronics


Location: To be determined

I have always loved unexpected sound emanating from unusual outdoor places, starting with those speakers hidden in funny-looking rocks. But when I was asked to install a 2-channel soundscape inside a tunnel in a public park, I had to figure out how to realize this myself, for cheap. Once I composed my piece, using found sound, effects, Text To Voice via the Web, and recorded sources, I was ready to build the output system. I gathered up my supplies: an old car CD player with loop feature, and two sets of car audio speakers on eBay and from local thrift stores. To power my system, I settled on a car battery, as the location was too remote for power and need to be hidden in the tunnel. The nice folks at Sears let me take a bunch of batteries in reasonable condition for free. I carefully charged them up, one for the weekend-long installation and two for backup. A quick shopping trip to RadioShack for speaker wire and connectors later, I had everything I needed.

In this demonstration I'll show how to hook up the speaker sets to the CD player and how to power the unit by a quick and easy connection to a car battery. I'll also have some examples of my site-specific audio installations available for look and listen via my laptop. This project has tons of fun applications, from creating beautiful unexpected audio moments in remote public spaces to freaking out your friends while camping, never mind all the fun of recording and composing your sound piece.

I'll hide an installation of my newest audio piece, vista;frequency, somewhere on the fairgrounds for you to discover.

See link below for how-to instructions on making your own!

Related site:


Presented by

Karyl Newman
karyl newman projects

I am an artist and former scenographer (though I design for theatre sometimes) and have been known to teach. My DIY aesthetic is the wonder of my friends and family as I consistently figure out ways to realize my ideas or theirs, and explain how to do it. My recent work is site-specific, sometimes temporary and anonymous, other times a multimedia performance. I live in Los Angeles and like to surf and take trips with my dog, Teller.