Installing Mirrors On Laptop Speakers

I set out to use mirrors attached to speakers to deflect a laser beam into Lissajous figures. After I’ve destroyed (and taken apart) a speaker to prove the concept worked, I need replacement speakers to move forward. Searching through my parts bin for replacement speakers, I found another pair salvaged off an obsolete Dell Inspiron 6400 laptop. Given the track record so far, I do not expect these speakers to last long, but the journey should be fun.

Dell Inspiron 15 speakers

The proof of concept used blue painter’s tape. This time I’m going for a little more permanence with mirrors hot-glued to the speaker surface. Since these speakers are tiny, I need to cut my stock of plastic mirrors down to size. The first cut using scissors immediately signaled no-go: the plastic is brittle sending cracks along the cut.

Plastic mirrors too brittle cracks when cut

So instead of cutting with scissors, we’ll cut a shallow groove into the surface with a knife, then applying pressure with a pair of pliers to make it break along the groove. This technique also works for real glass mirrors as well, but glass would require a diamond-tipped cutter to form the groove and probably something other than pliers to apply force.

Plastic mirror score and break

I broke the plastic mirror into little octagons, which are close enough to a circle for today’s fabrication exercise. Trying to attach them, though, found another problem with plastic mirrors: heat deformation. I put some hot glue directly on the back of my first octagon mirror, and watched it deform from heat. Oops.

Plastic mirror damaged by heat

I switched to putting glue on the speaker first, then waiting a few seconds for the glue to cool. Before the glue solidifies, I apply the mirror. Success! I now have two small speakers with small plastic mirrors attached to them.

Mirrors installed on Dell Inspiron 15 speakers

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