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Create your own noise blocking in-ear headphonesAll > Tech > Hacks/Mods > Gadgets > Create your own noise blocking in-ear headphones by natetrue
Sure, we could buy high end over the ear headphones to go over our ears in a one-size-fits-all fashion.
You can also get custom in-ear molds done at hearing-aid places for $100 that do the same thing as the ones in this tutorial, and are of higher quality.
But why pay $100 or even $200 for something you can make yourself for pennies on the dollar!? That's right, these noise-isolating, high-quality earphones will only run you $20 - and they're fully and perfectly molded to your specific ear shape (yes, your ear shape is unique!).
The process is simple - mix up some epoxy putty, jam it in your ear, let it mostly harden, take it out, drill holes for sound, and mount normal earbud speakers to them. Et voila!
First a short word before we continue.
WARNING - This tutorial advocates jamming things in your ear which are not made for earal consumption. Some people are allergic to epoxy (or develop an allergy after working with it) and may experience an allergic reaction that could conceivably involve a swelling of the ear canal and/or complete anaphylactic shock, maybe even death (hey, it could happen). You may also have a specific hooked form of ear that prevents you from removing the epoxy once it hardens. You might also, perhaps, have some sort of seizure epilepsy that makes you throw up uncontrollably when you stick things in your ear. Please consult your otologist before attempting this procedure. I take no liability for emergency room bills, ICU bills, coma support, or any other expenses incurred from actions resulting from the reading of this article.
Uh, now that you're sufficiently scared, let's move on!
NOTE - Do NOT use gloves to mix the epoxy. If you are allergic to it you will want to find that out when the putty is on your hands, not when it's in your ear canal.
Once the epoxy is thick enough, break a small piece off and set it aside (use this to find out when the epoxy in your ear is hard enough).
Wet your finger and moisten your ear surface (you can also use oil, or petroleum jelly). This is to make sure the epoxy doesn't pull too many hairs on the way out (or get stuck completely).
Put the rest in your ear, breaking small pieces off of your wad and pressing them around the bowl of your ear, making sure to cover the entire bowl-shaped area of your ear eventually. Don't push the epoxy into your ear canal too far - it should only go in about a quarter inch.
Let me repeat that. It is VERY easy to push the epoxy too far into your ear. BE CAUTIOUS. If you have any reason to suspect that you may not be capable of performing this procedure properly, do not attempt it.
You might want to consider this advice from my audiologist, Jesse Ferguson:
Make a ball of fluff (out of a cotton ball) and sew thread through it in a little loop. This goes in your ear first, down as far as you want. This keeps the material from going too far, and if a little piece gets stuck you can pull on the thread. Do not pull on the thread to get the impression out of your ear, though.
Work your jaw and pull at the edges of your ear to loosen the mold a little. You'll feel your ear fuzz pulling out with a gently painful sensation. The mold can still change its shape at this point so try not to push it around too much.
Fold your ear back as best as you can and get a grip around the edges of the mold. Pull very lightly and rotate it a bit, whichever way frees the mold best.
It is at this point where you find out whether you have that special hooked ear canal that I was talking about. Make sure EMT's are standing by.
Next comes the hard (fun?) part.
Using a 1/16 inch drill bit, drill partways into the mold to where it would meet a secondary hole drilled from the other side. This takes a lot of spatial thinking so I hope you're up to it.
- A 3/8" depression
- A 1/4" deeper depression
- A 1/16" hole that meets the other hole from the other side
Use a thin wire to make sure the hole is complete and all the way clear of drilling detritus.
You're almost done! Rip open a pair of cheap earbuds and attach the speaker elements to your new ear mold. I used Tub 'n' Tile caulking to hold it on there - it works pretty well.
Sound quality is excellent on even the cheapest of earbud speakers because of the isolation provided. The sound is channeled into your ear and you'll find yourself using very low volume settings on your portable audio players - no ear damage for you, any more!
A couple of possibilities before we go:
- Skip the drilling and earbud stage for some excellent earplugs!
- Use two tealight candles and arrange it so that one melts the other still in its metal can. Wait for the wax to melt all the way (and then wait a little more, to get it really hot!), and dip the mold in there momentarily. Shake the excess wax off before it melts and you will have thin coating of wax on the mold. This will increase noise blocking, tighten the fit, and make it easier to put in and take out.
- You could also modify a Bluetooth headset to use the in-ear as its mounting point. That might make it more comfortable, but not make you seem any less snooty :)
- Mix in ink or paints (maybe even fluorescein) to change the color of the epoxy. Partially mix it for a tie-dye look!
That's about all for now. Check out my other creations for more awesome interesting crap!
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