My kids each have their own computer and both use headsets while playing games, watching videos, or *gasp* doing homework.
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Until recently they used wired headsets with USB connectors and very long cords. Those cords would always get tangled and kinked and the headsets were showing their age with frayed ear muffs and broken buttons. So for the holidays I decided to get them each a nice pair of wireless gaming headphones. I decided on the Corsair Vengeance 2000 Wireless 7.1 headset at Newegg.com.
While shopping for headphones, I noticed the Beats by Dr. Dre store display headphone stand at Target. The display was a 2-inch thick piece of frosted acrylic with LED lighting from below. There were two notches cut into the top of the acrylic so each set would stay in their place. This looked like it would be a great solution for a headphone stand and charging station, and I happened to know where I could get a large piece of acrylic.
My father had a 20-inch by 20-inch square of 3-inch thick acrylic in his garage – someone had thrown it out at the landfill and he rescued it and brought it to his garage where it would sit for years. But I remembered seeing it before and instantly thought of it when I saw the Beats by Dr. Dre stand.
Cutting The Acrylic
I didn’t need the full 20 x 20-inch size of the acrylic so I decided to cut it in half and make my headphone stand 10 x 20-inch. I used my 10-inch mitre saw to cut the 20 x 20-inch acrylic sheet and if you’re doing your math, you realize that means I had to make a cut from each end and make them meet. That turned out to be no problem because my saw has a laser line, but they ended up not completely meeting up, due to the blade being rounded and the acrylic being so thick. So I had to cut about a 2-inch by 1-inch rectangle from the middle by hand. I was a bit concerned that the cuts would get too hot and start to melt, so I made the cuts in the bed of my truck on what happened to be a 45F degree day.
Once that was done, it looked like it had snowed in the back of my truck and I had two equal halves.
Sanding The Acrylic
The display at Target seemed to be frosted on the sides, top, and rear, but clear on the front. I tried that but it looks much better with all sides frosted. I used a coarse (160 grit) sanding sponge for the sides, top, and rear and a finer (320 grit) sanding sponge for the front surface. It took a lot of sanding and I went through a pack of each kind. It also made a lot of dust and yes, I was wearing a breather.
I also used the coarse sponges to smooth the edges and round the two front corners.
I used a file to notch three grooves in the top, to create slots where each headphone would sit. This was a lot of work and I gave up after a while. The grooves are there, but someday I’d like to go back and make them better.
Building The Base
I built the frame portion of base out of 3/4-inch poplar strips, and used a 1-inch piece of pine I had for the bottom. The only reason for the choice of pine was because that is what I had on hand. I mitered the frame and made it fit snugly. I then glued and finish nailed it all together. The acrylic piece drops in perfectly and fits tight.
My original plan was to build a base that would incorporate the touch pad controller for the LEDs, but I wanted it at an angle and didn’t want to do all of that work. Later you’ll see my not-so-elegant way of mounting the controller.
I used a router with a 1/4-inch bit to route a groove for the LED strip to fit in. I also drilled a hole through the side so the power and control wires from the LED could come through the back of the stand and up into the base where the acrylic sits.
The LED Strip
I purchased a Pilot Automotive 20-inch multi-color LED strip from Pep Boys. For some reason the Pep Boys and Pilot sites don’t show the product, but it features 7 different colors (Red, Green, Blue, Aqua, White, Pink, and Yellow), 5 different levels of brightness, and a 3-panel touch controller. The touch controller wasn’t working very well so I took it apart and re-applied hot glue where they held the PCB into the case. My additional glue made it more sensitive, but it still takes longer than I would expect for the controller to recognize your commands.
There are three buttons – one for color, one for brightness, and the middle button is for a strobe. There seem to be different strobe functions but they aren’t really that practical for this application and the touch button for the strobe is even less reliable than the other two.
While the touch controls aren’t very reliable, now that we’re used to it, it is pretty easy to change colors and brightness.
Putting It All Together
I painted the base black on the outside, and silver inside where the acrylic sits so it would reflect better. I laid the LED strip in place and routed the wires underneath and out the back. I ended up placing the touch pad on a monitor stand next to the headphone stand. The power for charging the headphones (3 sets) comes from the monitor. My daughter is still using my first LCD panel, the Dell 200FPW, which has 4 powered USB ports built into it. This worked out perfectly because I routed the USB cables from the monitor to the rear of the headphone stand and out through the front.
Here is the completed project. Click here to view a slideshow with more pictures.
Now, what should I do with the other half of the acrylic?