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Other Hardware and Peripherals Other Apple systems and peripherals discussion.

Project: Add speakers to your 20" ACD


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LittleGuy

 
Member Since: Apr 13, 2008
Posts: 5
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Here is a little project I did to add a nice speaker bar to my 20" ACD. Hopefully someone will find it useful for adding the speakers that Apple forgot. The idea is not original and I decided to do this after seeing something similar on a Dell monitor.

Aside from the thing working, I had just two requirements. First, it had to look good. Apple puts out some of the coolest looking hardware and I did not want to distract from it. Second, I did not want to void my ACD warranty or permanently modify the ACD. It turns out that I got lucky and found the parts necessary to meet both requirements. The only down-side is that the result does use the security hole and one USB port on the back of the monitor. If you can spare those two things, you are ready to give this a try.

Figure 9.jpg Figure 8.jpg

The speaker bar that I used was an HP product (the HP ee418aa). My requirements for the bar were that it not be battery powered and that it match the look of the ACD. The HP gets power from a USB port. This means that I don’t have to change batteries and I can use one of the USB ports on the back of the monitor. As for the looks, the HP is very plain looking, but it is silver. The added benefits of the HP were a headphone jack, manual volume control, and the cheap cost on ebay. On the down side, it is a bit tinny sounding and you will have to make a small modification to it so it does not block one of the USB ports on the back of the monitor.

Total cost of this fun little project was less than $20. With parts and tools in hand, it took about 10 minutes. If you want to do this to a 23” ACD, it should not be hard, you will just have to play with the measurements a bit.

Parts:
  • HP ee418aa Speaker Bar (I bought mine on ebay for $11 including shipping).
  • 2” tall x 3” wide piece of plexiglass/acrylic/lexan
  • You can make it as much as 3” tall. Do not make it any taller as the monitor power cable will get in the way. I would also recommend that you do not go wider than 3”.
  • It needs to be 1/8” thick. This is a standard thickness, so it should not be hard to find. I found mine at Lowes – and they even cut it down for free. While you are there, have them cut you 2 or 3 pieces since there is no charge and you can always use a backup.
  • 1 Metal Machine Round Head Screw
  • #4-40 x 3/4” metal (Home Depot: 30699 27461)
  • This item number form Home Depot contains 8 screws and nuts. It will contain the nuts in the next parts item.
  • If you get something different, keep the size of the head no wider that 1/4" and the diameter of the actual shaft no wider than 1/8”. This screw needs to fit into the security hole on the back of the monitor, head first.
  • 2 Metal Machine nuts
  • #4-40
  • These were in the same package as the Metal screws, above.
  • 2 Nylon Washers
  • #6 Nylon
  • This washer will go on the Metal screw above. Unfortunately they did not sell a #4 washer, but the #6 works just fine.
  • 2 Nylon Thumb Screws
  • #8-32 x 3/4" Nylon (Home Depot: 30699 263783)
  • 2 Nylon nuts
  • #8-32 Nylon
  • These are OPTIONAL, but well worth the 54 (or so) cents. You will put these on the nylon thumb screws to help properly cut the screws down to size and then discard these nuts.
Comments on parts:
I chose nylon screws trying to reduce the amount that I would mark up my ACD. Also know that some of the white nylon parts are more yellow than white. Make sure you get white parts, unless you have an affinity for the yellowed ones or just don’t care. The only reason I got my plexiglass at Lowes and the screws/nuts/washers at home depot was because I had the plexiglass from a previous project (and my home depot does not sell it anymore). You could probably find all the parts at Lowes.

Cost:
$11 for the speaker bar
$5 for the plexiglass – with a lot left over
$4 for the screws, washers, and nuts

Tools:
  • Drill with 9/64” and 5/32” drill bits.
  • Dremmel or similar grinding tool.
  • Sharp Pencil
  • Ruler with inches
  • Hammer and nail (to pre-tap the drill points)
  • small wrench to tighten the screws or a 1/4" ratchet bit. Not the ratchet itself, just the bit
  • Utility knife or other tool to cut the screws down in size. I used a small, sharp pruning shears and it worked perfectly.
  • Spare piece of wood for drilling – the hardware stores usually have free leftovers in the back of the store where they cut lumber for customers.
  • Paper Clip – There is a little gray grommet inside the monitor security hole. If you push too hard with the screw, the grommet can start to go inside. If that happens, bend the paper-clip into a little “L”, put the tail of the “L” into the hole and twist and slowly pull it up. This should push it back into place.
See the next post for directions...


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LittleGuy
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LittleGuy

 
Member Since: Apr 13, 2008
Posts: 5
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LittleGuy is offline
Directions:
  1. Before you start, know that whenever you work with plexiglass, you always want to keep the protective coating on until the very end. This allows you to write on it and keeps it from scratching. I was lucky that my protective coating was paper, not plastic. So, your first step is to mark up the plexiglass so you know where to drill. Draw a horizontal line 1/2" from the bottom. Mark the bottom so you don’t get confused. Now, 7/8” above that line draw another horizontal line (See Figure 1).

    Figure 1.jpg
  2. The top line will hold the screw that is attached to the monitor. Find the center of the line and mark it.
  3. On the bottom line, we need to put the points for the speaker bar holes. Hold the plexiglass against the speaker bar so that it is centered and the bottom line is visible through the two holes. With your pencil, mark the center points for the holes on the plexiglass. This should give you the points to drill for the speaker support posts (See Figure 2).

    Figure 2.jpg
  4. Next step... Drilling. Before you drill, get a nail and hammer and tap the 3 marks that you made. This will keep the drill from sliding around. Now, drill the two bottom marks with the 5/32” bit. We need these to be a bit tight so the screw stays in place and does not need a nut on the back side. To help this, be careful when drilling, drill slowly, and put a piece of wood underneath. You do not want to wiggle the drill once you punch through or back it out. We need that hole to be tight. Now, drill the top mark with the 9/64” bit (See Figure 3). SEE THE AFTERNOTE IN NEXT POST.

    Figure 3.jpg
  5. Now it is time to prepare the nylon screws. We need to cut down the thumb screws so they go through the plexiglass tightly and stick out enough to go through the two holes on the speaker bar and keep it in place. We are not concerned about loosing the threading, but we need it to be tight so it does not come out or need a nut. The easiest way to do this is to put two nylon nuts onto a thumb screw and tighten them down. Now cut the nylon screw so it is exactly the length of the two nuts. That is, when both nuts are on, the screw end is flush to the last nut. Repeat this process with both thumb screws (Also in Figure 3).
  6. Now the metal screw. This screw needs to go into the security slot of the monitor, head first. For it to fit, we need to grind the round head into something flat that will fit into the hole. Using the grinder, flatten the head so that if you looked at it from above, it would kind of look like half a circle. How flip the screw head over (flat side down) and do the same. The end result should be a screw with a head that looks the one in Figure 4.

    Figure 4.jpg
  7. At this point it is safe to take off the protective coating on the plexiglass and put the two nylon thumb screws through the plexiglass (See Figure 5).

    Figure 5.jpg

To be continued...
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LittleGuy

 
Member Since: Apr 13, 2008
Posts: 5
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LittleGuy is offline
  1. Take the metal screw and put on a nylon washer and a metal nut. (Also in Figure 5). This is done now to prevent the screw from falling into the monitor. Now CAREFULLY put only the head of the screw into the security hole on the back of the display. Turn it 90 degrees so that if you pull on it, it does not come out. Tighten the nut so that the washer sits between the monitor and the nut. The best way to do this is to use the 1/4" bit from a ratchet set and HAND tighten it. The washer will keep the monitor from getting scratched by the nut. This screw will be how the bar stays attached to the monitor (See Figure 6).

    Figure 6.jpg
  2. If you want to take advantage of the USB ports on the back of the monitor, you need to make a minor modification to the speaker bar. When looking at the back of it, you will see an oval hole on the left side of the mounting plate. If you put the monitor face down and then put the speaker bar on it as if it were mounted, you will see that the left side of the oval blocks one of the USB ports. Cut off the oval part so you can access both ports. Doing this will likely void your speaker bar’s warranty (Also in Figure 6).
  3. Put the speaker bar up against the back of the monitor. Put the plexiglass on top so that the flathead screw goes into the slot and the thumb screws go into the holes of the speaker bar. Using the ratchet bit, tighten the plexiglass down using a washer and followed by one of the remaining metal nuts.

    Figure 7.jpg
  4. When you stand the monitor back up, be careful not to apply pressure to the speaker bar.
  5. Plug in the USB cable for power and the sound jack into your computer.
  6. Enjoy.

After I put it all together, I found that the speaker bar is not going to fall off, but it is a bit loose and the weight of it results in some sag, despite tightening it quite hard. If anyone has a recommendation on how to fix this, please let me know!

AFTERNOTE:
Putting the screw line at 7/8” was probably a bit high. After I put these instructions together, I decided to take another look. I decided to make that center hole into a slot by using a dremmel to grind downwards. Making it a slot did allow me to push the speaker bar up a bit to get rid of the wiggle and even some of the sag. Unfortunately, I made a mistake by trying to grind it. I would recommend that you tap and drill two more holes (at 6/8” and 5/8”) and use the drill or grinder to make the three holes into a single slot. I have marked Figure 3 to show where to drill.


LittleGuy
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