I recently got a Replicator 2 3D printer (I’ve been wanting one to complement the Fireball for a while). As a first project, I decided I would solve a problem with my Microsoft Surface. I like the surface a lot, but it has one flaw (which apparently it shares with the iPad). The speakers are oriented to point at 90 degrees from the screen (to save space), so when using the tablet, you need to have the volume higher than necessary, becasue the sound is being produced not towards your head. I found that by cupping my hands on the top corners (where the speakers are), I got a good volume boost by deflecting the sound back at me. So I decided to design and print a curved shape to bounce the sound back. And so, the Surface Ears. Here they are installed:
I was very excited by my invention till I discovered that this is old hat in the iPad world – it’s called a passive amplifier. Ah well. 🙂
The requirements here were: Must clip on/off easily, not interfere with the speaker holes or volume button, and be fairly hardy (to be carried around in bags, etc). I used OpenSCAD and Inkspace to design the 3D model. Inkscape I use for designing CNC routable parts, but OpenSCAD was a pleasant surprise – it uses a C like syntax to define shapes which feels very natural to me. Strongly recommended if you have a coding background. Here are some OpenSCAD renders of the ears:
Of course, it has a bunny share to emphasize the “Ears” aspect (the true purpose of the bunny is to save on plastic by acting as a lightening hole). To avoid an overhang, they are printed upside-down. It was an interesting exercise in learning the vagueries of 3D printing just thinking about what orientation the object should be on the build platform so that they print OK. Here they are, ready to go:
In the end I printed three sets – two as gifts, and one for myself. All reports are that they work pretty well.
You can download the STL files to print your own from Thingiverse.