The sound of summer
03 June 2010
With a design built around its monocrystalline solar panel, the sound of this summer could be coming from the first in a new era of self powered consumer products
The sun is beginning to show its head and with our typical response to a glimmer of sunlight us Brits are flocking outdoors regardless of the temperature.
Adding a bit of music to the situation can help while away the hours as you soak up the rays, and having a device that’s going to take as much enjoyment from the sunshine as you are can’t be a bad thing.
Here at DEVELOP3D we’ve looked at solar power before, albeit on a more industrial scale, but now solar energy is becoming more viable and reliable on a consumer level.
The Devotec Solar Sounds 2 is a small portable speaker linked to your MP3 device via Bluetooth, ideal for those sunny days in the park or by the beach, but with a design dictated by the inbuilt monocrystalline solar panel that means it will play on happily all day.
“The concept was born from practicality in terms of placing the functional parts which make up the speaker, and the best layout was actually that which offered the best acoustic qualities,” explains Devotec technical director Oliver Mitchell.
“The Solar Sound tends to disagree with most people’s stereotype of portable battery powered products which run out of juice so easily. It hints at a future where battery life is not a problem.”
Using Pro/Engineer for the majority of part and assembly modelling, the product went straight from concept to feature-based model without touching paper.
With the core of the product being a single piece housing the design team relied heavily on computer aided manufacturing to aid with injection mould flow analysis.
“The one-piece moulded ABS housing was the most difficult thing to achieve and required relatively complex injection mould design with careful consideration of plastic flow in the mould,” says Oliver.
“The other elements were not difficult to achieve as they are structurally supported by the housing which is incredibly strong and stiff.”
Taking the acoustic properties of such a small portable device seriously Oliver’s team also used Matlab for simulating acoustic responses in designing the cabinet and drive units.
“Every cubic centimetre of space is used, making the Solar Sound extremely compact in size for the level of sound it can reproduce.
“While most portable speakers sacrifice the most important aspect as known by acousticians, the cabinets, and then attempt to rebuild sound response by over-engineering everything else, we use large and stiff opposing speaker cabinets.
“These can provide room-filling sound and there is no constraint on how to place to the speaker; it sounds great from every angle!”
Ideally when sprawled out in the sunshine this summer.