After a successful end to our Indiegogo campaign, we've moved the party to our website! To see the latest from Trash Amps and order your own soda can speakers, visit:
We are Trash Amps – we transform soda cans into portable speakers to get people thinking, “What are things we throw away that could have a new use?”
Instead of raising money from a venture capitalist to pay for production, we’ve created this campaign on Indiegogo to do some “crowd-funding” – you pre-order the product at a special price, and we use that money to fund the first production run!
Here's the basics:
The Book of Trash Amps
Click on a chapter to read more:
Chapter 1 Rewards
Chapter 2 History of Trash Amps
Chapter 3 Customer Feedback: Gen 1
Chapter 4 Everything about Gen 2
Chapter 5 So Many Uses
Chapter 6 Manufacturing Plan
Chapter 7 Intended Time Line
Chapter 8 We’ve Got Credentials
Chapter 9 More About Us
Chapter 10 Frequently Asked Questions
Chapter 1 - Rewards
For your financial support of our project, we offer you these perks!
Chapter 2 – History of Trash Amps
In college, our friend got an Altoids guitar amp kit online. It was a cool idea, but it didn’t sound great because it’s such a small enclosure. The same electronics worked great in a soda can. Then came the realization: you can put music in anything – Trash Amps was born. After showing a few prototypes to friends, we knew there was a market for a product like this. Adam graduated in 2009 (Manufacturing Engineering) and joined forces with Ron (Electrical Engineer) to get Trash Amps going.
After a small run of Gen 0, which utilized PVC pipe and off the shelf parts, we wanted to up the level of quality. We raised money from family and friends for an injection mold – we wish we would have known about Indiegogo then! We built 500 Gen 1 Trash Amps, which quickly sold through our website and booth at the local mall for $50 each. So, we made 1000 more. We’re talking 1,500 units made by hand on the dining room table. In Sept 2012, we sold the last Trash Amp Gen 1!
As the Gen 1 phase of our project ends, we are anxious to start the next: we are ready to bring out Gen 2!
Chapter 3 – Customer Feedback: Gen 1
Here are a few emails we received from customers who purchased Gen 1:
Joyce from Phoenix, Arizona writes:
"This is a truly awesome product, I have now bought 5 of them online. These are awesome and affordable gifts!"
Debbie "Librarian" from San Francisco, California writes:
"I just want to tell you how much I love my amp. I bought it at the Makers Fair in San Mateo, CA and I use it with my electric ukulele. I am a librarian at a middle school and I am spreading the word! When the students come into the library they are amazed how good it sounds!!! Thank you until the end of time and beyond!"
Brad from Queensland, Australia writes:
"I found out about Trash Amps from a Tumblr Blog I follow. My Trash Amp arrived yesterday and I love it. It's perfect to listen to tunes without having to pop in some ear phones when I sit down and read a book. Sometime over the weekend it'll get a test run on my brothers Bass guitar. I'll see if I can't convince him to get his own Trash Amp to practice with to avoid annoying the neighbourhood all the time. Would love to stay in touch, and if I find myself back in the US again, I'm looking you up and we're going for beers and pizza. And you've got a place to stay in Australia too if you come down here on holiday."
Tony "Mad About Portable Music" from San Jose, California writes:
"Shweeeet Product!!! Caught you gents at a local gift faire in San Jose! Watched and listened to a few people ask very specific questions, and then bought one myself. Having tried many MP3 portable speakers in the past, I was a little skeptical, but plugged my ipod shuffle in, and of course pumped up the volume...and I was friggin amazed! Nice device! Having an art background, I was dually impressed with the packaging, especially the cardboard tube. I definitely like the concept of old stuff turned into something new and useful. Well done guys. I'll be sending many friends and family your way!"
Jorge from Miami, Florida writes:
"I remember watching your video about a year ago and thinking how amazing your Trash Amp was. Since I didn't have a job, I couldn't afford it. But two things happened a week ago: my headphones broke, and I just got a job! SO, I thought about this awesome speaker that fits in a can and decided to buy one because of it's ingenuity and amazing purpose. I received the speaker in the mail yesterday, I absolutely love it! I'm using it for iPod and Guitar, and I still use the packaging as a case. I love that concept of a travel case that lives past it's shipping life. Thanks for inventing this awesome device!"
During the course of selling 1,500 Gen 1 Trash Amp Speakers, our customers gave us these three ideas to improve Gen 2.
We’ve addressed all of these issues in Gen 2. Other improvements include a more durable cord, automatic on/off, and automatic gain control. In chapter 4, we’ll give you all the details on Gen 2, which you can pre-order by pledging $32 or more (see Chapter 1 - Rewards)!
Chapter 4 – Everything About Gen 2
Here you’ll find detailed feature descriptions and photos of our latest prototypes!
Chapter 5 – So Many Uses
And our speakers provide high quality, high volume sound with your favorite apps!
Chapter 6 – Manufacturing Plan
We’ve completed the design work for the electronics, product and packaging in Sunnyvale, CA. We're working with a reputable turnkey manufacturing company in Oregon that employs more than 100 people in the US full time. Using our prototypes and manufacturing documents, they will produce 1000 units at their China manufacturing location.
We've looked for the past year, but never found anybody to build our product in the USA - unfortunately, it seems most products involving electronics are made overseas these days. If you know of turnkey manufacturing in the USA for our speakers, please contact: email@example.com - we would love to build it here if posssible!
We have given the manufacturer all of the documents required for production, as well as physical working prototypes of our product. The manufacturer has already sent us first articles (initial sample from manufacturer). Overall, the samples looked very good. We have analyzed these product samples and given feedback. They are now building final product samples which we should receive in early November. We will keep you posted on how they look. If you have any questions about our manufacturing plan or experience, please contact us! We love talking about manufacturing – it’s our passion!
We’ve put a ton of effort into earth friendly product design and packaging. Many of the parts are made from recycled materials, such as the black plastic end caps. Our manufacturer will use “regrind” plastic for many plastic parts in the product and packaging. Regrind plastic is plastic that would normally be thrown away, but is ground up and used again for our product.
The following items will be produced by our contract manufacturer: Indiegogo can, speaker insert, and packaging.
Due to the range of colors and designs of our magnetic grills, and the fact that we have an Epilog laser cutter, we will produce the grills ourselves. With injection molding, we wouldn’t be able to experiment with new designs, nor would we be able to produce small quantities of a variety of different colors. With laser cutting, we have complete control over color, design, and quantity. Plus, it’s fun to use the laser. After the campaign, we will purchase the acrylic sheets locally and start laser cutting. After they are cut out, we will glue on the magnet and send them with your speaker!
We still provide cans that have been consumed and collected in Sunnyvale, California, USA! We collect them from all sorts of folks, mostly family and friends. We clean them, cut the tops off, and make sure there are no sharp edges. When the speakers arrive, we will combine it with the can you select. We have more than 1000 cans saved up, check it out:
We made a special wall organizer for the cans. This custom design includes laser cut cardboard from old boxes. This can organizer is special because a soda can may be added or removed anywhere on the board without disrupting the other cans.
Chapter 7 – Intended Time Line
All "perks" ship May 1, 2013. Thanks for your patience!
Chapter 8 – We’ve Got Credentials
We’ve worked on projects such as towel warmers and LED disc golf discs. We are skilled in woodworking, injection molding, CNC machining, solid modeling, rapid prototyping, electronic design and assembly, and the list goes on. We do a lot of consulting for local inventors with new product ideas, helping turn their ideas into working prototypes. Our current side project is a medical device for paramedics to use in the field. Got a project for us? Drop us a line!
Adam has a BS in Manufacturing Engineering from California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) in San Luis Obispo, CA. Ron has a BS in General Engineering and MS in Industrial Engineering also from Cal Poly. Having worked on many projects together, workflow is efficient. Adam typically does the product design, packaging design, and SolidWorks 3D Modeling. Ron specializes in electronics, circuit design, and prototype PCB creation.
Adam completed all of the product design for Gen 2. This includes SolidWorks 3D modeling, prototyping, testing, and technical drawings – everything the manufacturer needs to make the product. Adam also completed the same items for the packaging.
Ron has completed all of the electronics design. This includes circuit design, schematic creation, circuit testing and optimization using software, component library creation, board layout, prototype creation, testing and optimization of real prototypes, and creation of manufacturing documents including pick and place data, board panelization, etc. For you tech people, Ron is a very skilled PCB prototype maker, as he can put down parts as small as 0402 in the garage.
Chapter 9 – More About Us
- Prefers nectarines to peaches
- Often skips breakfast
- Gets his best work done between 10 pm – 2 am
- Reads packaging textbooks for fun
- Writes and records original music
- Prefers peaches to nectarines
- Makes the perfect cup of coffee every morning with his Aeropress
- Has only been on an airplane 4 times
- Specializes in microcontroller projects
- Brews beer and wine
Don’t tell anyone, but Adam is a bit of a collector. He has been collecting cans for 5 years now, and saves one of each can he comes across as a keepsake, no repeats! Now, there’s more than 500 unique cans in the Wall of Fame.
Chapter 10 – Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can I choose my own soda can and grill top? Yes! Please pledge to a perk which includes “Can & Grill chosen by YOU”. After pledging, go to our website to reserve the can(s) and grill(s) of your choice: www.can-reservation.com. Limit one can and one grill reservation per CAN combo. Get your favorite can before somebody else does!
2. How loud is it? Ridiculously loud! Seriously, it will fill a large apartment or your bedroom. It’s even great for outdoor use, like backyard BBQs and beach days. People are always surprised at how loud our speakers are!
3. How do you turn the speaker on? Trash Amps Gen 2 is SMART: it automatically turns on when music plays, and falls asleep after 30 seconds of silence. Alternatively, if you unplug the Trash Amp from your device, it automatically turns off. This really prolongs your battery life – you can’t forget to turn this speaker off and waste the batteries (user feedback from Gen 1).
4. How do you control the volume of the speaker? The volume of the speaker is controlled by the device you plug in – turn it up on your iPod or guitar, and the speaker gets louder. Using input impedance sensing, aka “magic,” the Trash Amp automatically boosts the gain for face melting guitar solos!
5. Will the Trash Amp work with my device? A simple rule of thumb is “if you can plug in headphones, you can plug in a Trash Amp!” Devices commonly used are smart phones, iPod, iPad, tablets, mp3 players, laptops, portable DVD players, and the list goes on. And don’t forget about musical instruments, like electric guitars (see next item)!
6. How do I use the Trash Amp with my guitar or other musical instrument? Trash Amp is a legit guitar amplifier! We’ve seen Trash Amps used with electric guitars, electric ukuleles and keyboards. Use the ¼” adapter to plug into any standard instrument output. We include one adapter free with every CAN Combo!
7. Can I use my own cord with the Trash Amp? Yes, the 3.5mm auxiliary jack inside the secret compartment allows you to use your own cord to connect an input. The built-in cord is 15 inches long, so especially with guitar use, it can be nice to have a longer cord so you can move around freely.
8. Can I connect multiple Trash Amps together for stereo sound or louder volumes? The built in 3.5mm auxiliary jack allows you to connect Trash Amps together! Just plug the first unit into your device, and plug subsequent Trash Amps into the previous unit’s auxiliary jack. This lets you get even louder volumes!
9. Can I get stereo sound out of my Trash Amps? True stereo sound can be achieved using a stereo splitter between the audio source and the two Trash Amps. You can pick one up at your local electronics store. By default, Trash Amps internally mix the left and right audio signals together, so when you daisy chain two or more together using the auxiliary jack, they each with play the mixed mono signal.
10. Can you give me some technical specs on these speakers? Trash Amps are super efficient with power consumption, offering 50 hours of battery life from 4 AA batteries (included). A 2" full range driver and 1.4W amp provide ridiculously loud music for a hangout with friends, or for an impromptu jam session.
11. How do you cut the cans? Over the past 5 years, we’ve developed a device to safely cut the tops off the cans. Cutting cans is very difficult because they are so delicate. You want an even cut with no sharp edges. We’d love to share our method with you, but then we’d have to kill you! Just kidding… maybe someday we’ll tell, but we want you to have the chance to think through the challenge yourself! Brain exercise, a real engineering problem!
12. Can I cut my own can? It is possible to cut a can with scissors or other tools, but please don’t kill yourself! For liability and safety reasons, “we don’t recommend it.” We include a pre-cut can with every CAN Combo so you get a straight, clean top without sharp edges.
13. Where do the cans come from? We’ve collected cans for the past 4 years from all over the world. We have more than 1000 cans in our house, and it’s getting to be a problem. I have many “regular drinkers” that save cans for me, like my grandparents. When we go to parties, we collect the cans and take them home with us. If you live in the Bay Area and you drink lots of canned beverages, please contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org) about becoming a can supplier! The Indiegogo Can is recycled aluminum branded with exclusive graphics – to be clear, it never had soda in it. Custom printed cans like this are becoming very popular for us because people want branding and customizability options.
14. Do you need a can on the speaker to use it? The can creates a sealed speaker cavity for a full range sound experience. Without it, the frequency response is greatly diminished. Plus the can gives you style points!
15. Where is it made? We’ve completed the design work for the electronics, product and packaging in Sunnyvale, CA. We're working with a reputable turnkey manufacturing company in Oregon that employs more than 100 people in the US full time! Using our prototypes and manufacturing documents, they will produce 1000 units at their China manufacturing location.
16. Can you make it in the USA? In the past 2 years, we hand made and sold 1,500 units for $50 each. These units were built on the dining room table, and to date, nobody has been paid a salary :-( We've looked for the past year, but never found anybody who could produce our product in the USA - unfortunately, most products involving electronics are made overseas these days. If you know of turnkey manufacturing in the USA for our speakers, please contact: email@example.com - we would love to build it here if possible! For now, we've made a decision and we're going to give it a try. With the help of professional manufacturing, we will build a thriving business, create new jobs, and start paying salaries!
17. Is shipping included? Shipping is included for US orders. International orders, please add $10 to your pledge.
18. When will I get my Trash Amp? If everything goes according to plan, you will have your speakers in hand by February 28, 2013. Of course, stay tuned for backer updates including delivery dates!
19. Is Coke going to sue you for using their cans? People trade and sell collectors Coke cans on eBay, right? Is that illegal? The answer is no. After some research, we’ve found the rule on selling cans: “you may sell a can as long as there’s nothing in it.” So Trash Amps has created a Speaker Insert which fits inside cans, and we also sell empty cans which you can use to customize your speaker. When our website is in normal operation, the Speaker Insert and can show up as separate items during checkout, eliminating the idea that Coke may have made the speaker. This solution overcomes licensing issues and is an integral part of the Trash Amps Patent.
20. Do you have a patent? In September 2010, we filed a utility patent application for the Trash Amps Speaker. In September 2012, we got our first office action, and soon the patent will be granted. It’s always good to have some protection, and filing the patent was a great learning experience! Look for “Patent Pending” or Patent No. on the product when you get it!
21. Can I purchase Trash Amps in bulk for my store? Our Indiegogo campaign is geared toward everyday folks. The maximum quantity you can purchase through our campaign is 12 units. We’d love to talk more about wholesale possibilities with you via email, please drop us a line: firstname.lastname@example.org.
22. Can I brand Trash Amps with my school or company logo? Yes, but it’s not available through our Indiegogo campaign. Please drop us a line: email@example.com.
23. Why don’t you use rechargeable batteries? Many people ask us this, because we’re a “green company” and “disposable batteries are evil.” In an effort to make the product affordable to all, we’ve designed it with a 4AA battery pack which comes with 4 AA Alkaline batteries. Many customers purchase their own rechargeable batteries and charger – it’s an option for those that want it!
24. Why don’t you use solar panels? Many people ask us this, because we’re a “green company.” To the best of our knowledge, a reasonably sized solar panel would not provide the amount of current required to power our speakers. To get the proper amount of power, you’d need a solar panel 5ft X 5ft – you lose the entire “PORTABLE” aspect of our product. Not to mention the two main requests we get from customers are: (1) can you make it louder? and (2) can you lower the price point? Adding solar panels to the mix would create power problems and increase the price point.
25. Do Trash Amps support Bluetooth? The biggest complaint we’ve had thus far is “the price is too high!” We thought about adding Bluetooth, but it adds cost, which adds to our price point problem. Our target market is high school and college students, and our price point must be appropriate for this audience. With the current product, we’ve gone for a durable, simple product that everyone can afford. BUT, if this project is successful, I promise you here and now: we will do another campaign in the future for a Bluetooth Trash Amp Speaker!
If you read this far, you deserve a medal of honor. Thanks for your interest in our project!