Instructables
Picture of Ammo Box Speakers
This instructable will demonstrate how to turn a .50 caliber ammunition box into a sweet set of speakers that can be used with your mp3 player, laptop, or any other portable device.

This set of speakers is rugged, compact, easy to take on the go, and LOUD!  The whole project will cost about $50.00 usd. and can be completed in an afternoon.
 
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
Most of these materials can be purchased locally, but I chose to get some of the items online to cut down on costs.

Heres what you need:

1.  One .50 caliber ammo box- http://www.joesarmynavyonline.com/servlet/Detail?no=5984
2.  Two 4" speakershttp://www.amazon.com/Pyle-PL42BL-4-Inch-Two-Way-Speakers/dp/B000230LBI/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1291250695&sr=8-2
3.  2 sets of speaker wires- these will come with your speakers typically
4.  12 volt amplifier-http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.34406
5.  3.5mm panel mount plughttp://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2062450
6.  12 volt illuminated toggle switchhttp:// http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=206249312
7.  Computer power supply- a broken one is ok for this, as you will just be using the plug and cord.
8.  Egg carton foam- I had this piece of foam from some type of packaging.
9.  1 3/4" desk grommet- these can be found in the hardware store or office supply store.
10.  12 volt power supply- this is the kind of power supply that a laptop would use.
11.  Two 4" computer fan grates.
12.  3.5mm male audio to rca audio
13.  3.5mm male to 3.5mm male audio cable
14.  cheap little tripod from the dollar store
15.  various hardware.

Step 2: Safety Gear

Picture of Safety Gear
You are definitely going to have to wear safety glasses for this project as there are metal bits and solder flying all over the place.  I would also suggest wearing hearing protection because when you get ready to cut the ammo box, it may be the loudest thing ever heard by human ears.

Step 3: Remove the Plug from the Power Supply

Grab your power supply and remove the lid to expose the guts of the unit, this should be about 4 screws on the outside of the case depending on your model of power supply.  

Next remove the screws that hold the actual plastic plug in place, and carefully pull the plug out and snip the three wires that are attached to it. set the rest of the power supply off to the side. you will not be needing this for any other parts.

Step 4: Mark the Ammo Box for Hole Placement

Next we are going to mark the ammo box for hole placement. This is probably the most time-consuming part of the whole process, take your time here and do this part right, and everything else will fall into place.

These are the holes that will be cut into the box
1.  2 speaker holes
2.  Bass tube
3. Toggle switch
4.  4 holes for mounting the speakers
5. Hole for the panel mount audio jack
6.  4 holes for mounting the amp
7.  hole for the power plug
8  2 holes for mounting power plug

The dimensions of these boxes vary slightly, so I am going to show you an easy way to do this that will not really require me to give exact dimensions as to where to cut.

I have detailed this part of the process in each following photo, to be as clear as possible.

Step 5: Cutting the holes: Speakers and bass tube

Picture of Cutting the holes: Speakers and  bass tube
To cut these holes you will need:
A drill bit 3/8" or larger in diameter
jigsaw with metal blade
round metal file
piece of scrap wood

The first thing is to put on your safety glasses so that you do not lose an eye. You need to cut a piece of scrap wood just long enough to fit in between the sides of the box (see photo). This will keep the metal from vibrating violently during the cutting process.

Step 6: Cutting Holes part 2: plug, audio jack, and screws

In this step we will be cutting the holes for the electrical plug, audio jack and the screw holes for the speakers as well as the amp.

for this step you will need:  Jigsaw with metal blade, drill with various sized bits, and a round file, I also used a deburring tool in this step.


Step 7: Cut up the tripod!

The little dollar store tripod will be cut up and used for the standoffs for the speaker covers in this step.  This could be substituted by any tubular material of a similar diameter (1/4" ish).

For this step you will need a phillips screwdriver and a pipe cutter.

Step 8: Mount the speakers

In this step we will be mounting the speakers to the ammo box. Before you set your speakers in place, go ahead and mount the wires to the back.  Automotive speakers always come with the speaker wires in the box, and they are typically keyed meaning that the wires can only go on one way, there is a small plug and a large plug with corresponding small and large fittings. So go ahead and attach the wires and then slide the speakers into place with the wires laying inside the box for now.

Step 9: Attach wires to plug

In this step we will be wiring up the plug that brings the electricity into the box from the outside. this step is pretty straightforward.  Just take your time and use caution with all of the tools involved. and make sure nothing is plugged in while you are working on it.

for this step you will need:  wire strippers, phillips screwdriver, soldering gun, solder, flux, helping hands,  and safety glasses.

Step 10: Wire and install switch

In this step you will be wiring and mounting the toggle switch to operate the box.  You need the same tools as the last step so let's get to it.

Step 11: Wire up and install the audio jack.

In this step we will be wiring up the audio jack and installing it into the box. this step is very simple and is the last of the soldering required for this project.

Step 13: Install the grommet for the bass tube as well as the foam

In this step you will be attaching the grommet that acts as the bass tube, as well as the sound dampening foam, which will help the box not sound like a metal box.

Step 15: Adjust your levels/ finished

Picture of adjust your levels/ finished
ok so you are done!!!!! at this point you can just go ahead and tinker around with your bass levels and volume to get the desired sound you like. Just as a note the box sounds radically different with the lid open or closed. so when you are making your adjustments be sure to close the lid so that you can hear the full effect.  I hope you enjoyed the instructable and feel free to hit me with any comments or questions.


1-40 of 190Next »

where did you guys find to covers for the speakers? I have been hunting amazon and cant find it

they are on the Power supplies that they ripped apart. old school power supplies have that goofy grill. Go to any computer repair shop and ask for old power supplies that don't work and see if those griles are on them.

any electronics supply house like an industrial version of radio shack. they are cooling fan covers. not really spaeker grills.

this is awesome!, im doing this for my electronics project, however in order to do that, i have to build my own amplifier bit, anyone know where i can find a schematic for the one he uses? so i can copy it and therefore pass my project

stjwinn2 months ago

Great instructable. I've been gathering parts to build a few of these, but in testing all the pieces I noticed that the amp is getting really hot. After about 15 minutes the amp case was over 140 degrees and climbing. Anyone else have this problem? I thought it might be because my speakers are 4ohm and the amp is rated 8-20ohm, but it looks like the original instructable has the same setup. Any suggestions? Considering using the cooling fan from the PC p/s but I'm wondering if it would make too much noise. Or just get a 4ohm amp?

Ive had a need for a loud portable durable speaker for a few years and never could find one to buy that satisfied my needs and wasnt outrageously priced. Did a lot of research into making my own before stumbling across some ammo can speaker projects like this one and decided to make my own.

Used a 50 cal ammo can which I applied a butyl sound deadening material to, some kicker 4" speakers, Lepai t-class amp and a 7ah 12vdc sla battery that is most commonly used in home alarm systems with quick connects for a battery tender for recharging. Audio is connected to a 3.5mm plug with my ipod. I also did some subtle customization to keep the military feel with the blacked out nut washer combo and the graphic i made and trimming the speaker grills in flat white.

The 7ah battery is a little overkill since this amp and speaker combo is very loud and efficient. Future mods in the next few weeks will include:

-port tube hidden under the latch
-lighter battery pack (prob a 3ah li-ion)
-speaker feet
-bluetooth connectivity
2012-08-14_13-25-42_66.jpg2012-08-14_13-25-21_247.jpg2012-08-14_13-26-53_956.jpg

Thought I would come back a few years later to drop an update on this project.

I ultimately ended up ditching the .50 cal ammo can for a .30 cal can which is almost half the depth and almost half the weight. I also ended up changing to a dta-2 amp and a 3.8ah Li-ion battery pack along with bluetooth 3.0

This setup is about a 40% reduction in size and 60% reduction in weight without a significant decrease in sound quality and battery life is still killer.

The bluetooth range is pretty limited mounted inside the box but as long as its close by all is good.

After tons of tinkering and lots of parts swapping I heavily recommend this setup.

Links for components below:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002IA9MYK/ref=oh...

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007RQW5WG/ref=oh...

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008AGQMQC/ref=oh...

IMG_20140825_154427_714.jpg
How did you wire the battery into the amp. I have fried two amps now. I have a switch with an LED in it, From the battery the positive goes to the positive the ground to the ground. I cut the cable supplied with the amp and ran it to the switch directly. The all black wire ran to the ground on the switch, the black and white wire runs to the switched power on the switch itself. Am I missing something here.
Ok. I think I figured it out. I had the wires going to the amp backwards. I checked on a laptop 12 volt power supply with my multimeter and found that the inside of the plug was the "hot" side, and the outside was the ground, which is the opposite of the way I had my power unit wired.
Have you come up with a way of doing internal bluetooth? I've been kicking around that idea for months and cant get around the notion that a bluetooth receiver inside a sealed steel box would have a range of about 14 inches, haha.

I have found lots of simple solutions on bluetooth receivers, some even run off of 12v so they could be wired to the battery... but the range problem still eludes me.
Ive contemplated the idea for my next one as well, and the only solution ive come across is taking a bluetooth reciever apart, finding where its internal antenna is and mounting/ attaching a wire or other antenna to it to run to the outside.

My idea was to make a tiny hole directly next to the speaker and have a tiny wire (antenna) go around the outside of the speaker to hide it inbetween the speaker body and the ammo box. That way you have an external antenna for the reviever thats partly hidden, maybe completely hidden by the speaker mounting body.
I have had the same feeling, especially given that mine is lined in sound deadening material. Ultimately I decided that I will be using:
http://www.amazon.com/Britelink-Bluetooth-Audio-Receiver-Portable/dp/B0059M4G9K/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1346078657&sr=8-3&keywords=bluetooth+receiver
although I have yet to order it. Small, good battery life, rechargeable, great reviews. The only reason I am even attempting this is because I am porting my box and will be mounting the receiver directly above the port. Hoping this will allow adequate signal transmission but who knows. I will definitely post an update once it is all finished and let you know about the range.
scotprice6 months ago

Has anybody made an ammo box speaker like this that runs on battery, but can also be plugged in to run off a laptop power supply? I am trying to come up with a schematic to do it using a DC Power Jack w/switching, but am having trouble finding out how to properly wire it all together (power jack input is tip positive, shell negative).

i am making one that uses a 12v battery. so pretty easy to connect 12v power supply + charge battery at the same time.

I am thinking of making one, battery powered and adding a small 3"-7" tablet for music controlling playing so it turns into an All in one player. or using a Small First act Guitar amp for parts...

mpauwels24 months ago

What are the dimensions of the bass port?

ctx1985 made it!10 months ago

Great Instructable! I made these a while back and figured I'd post some pics of my own. I made mine so they could run off of AC wall power as well as an internal 12v SLA battery. I put a panel volt meter with a momentary switch on top to check the battery voltage. I also added a USB charge port on the side. Thanks for the fantastic Instructable!

IMAG0348.jpgIMAG0349.jpgIMAG0366.jpg
cdavis60 ctx19854 months ago
could you show more pictures in detail
scotprice6 months ago

Has anybody made an ammo box speaker like this that runs on battery, but can also be plugged in to run off a laptop power supply? I am trying to come up with a schematic to do it using a DC Power Jack w/switching, but am having trouble finding out how to properly wire it all together (power jack input is tip positive, shell negative).

bjc40736 months ago

Why not use a small battery or run it out of a cigarette lighter so it is portable?

wly1 made it!8 months ago

Heres mine that I built to be super compact at 8lbs.

Been using for 4 days and battery sits around 12.4 since full charge.

List:

1. 200 cartridge 7.62mm box

2. Powersonic 9ah battery

3. Parts-express dta-2 30 watt amp

4. 4 2" Hi-wave speakers from Parts-express(220uf hp filter)

5. 2 1" Tweeter(10uf hp filter)

6. Dc jack/3.5 audio jack

7. Spare 12v 2a wall adapter for charging

8. Materials (wires, acrylic, heat sink, terminals, etc)

Future Mods: Bluetooth, 12v solar panel

IMG_0799.JPGIMG_0801.JPGIMG_0807.JPGIMG_0806.JPGIMG_0808.JPG
Eljah_428 months ago

Would using two 6.5" speakers work?

limelightconsulting made it!10 months ago

Great instructable! When I made mine I took a few liberties with the materials. I reduced the size of the ammo can, custom spacers (couldn't find that tripod) and used a different power cord, but for the most part followed the great photos and directions you posted. I made this for a client who happens to be the owner of a gun range for whom we did some design work. So I added our company logo.

ammo can speaker.JPG
tsnider210 months ago
I'm trying to build one of these with a 12v battery inside. Will the speaker magnets drain the battery?
ctx1985 tsnider210 months ago

I built mine with a 12v SLA battery inside (placed directly behind the speakers) and had no issues with it.

MrParrott1 year ago
All, I'm really having trouble pairing up some speakers that will sound good with this rig. I'm using the Hifimydiy linked here and here, and I'm using these rockford fosgate speakers. This SHOULD work right? The speakers are 30 Watt RMS, 60 Watt Peak, 4 ohm two-ways, and the amp is 2x100 at 4 ohms. What gives?
It all depends on what watt is being used. There are RMS watts (Root mean square), and loads of others. I would suspect the chinese amp watts is nowhere near 100watts rms, more like 30 max. so your speakers will be aok.
rbaechle1 year ago
so I was going to build one of these but using a MK19 ammo can which is larger. 18 19/32 inches (472.3 mm) x 8 19/64 inches (210.7 mm) x 14 19/32 inches (370.7 mm) in its outside dimensions. I would like to place 2 speakers on each side but looking for advise as to why it would or wont work. Also would this parts list still apply or will I need a larger power pack and amp? Thank you for whatever advise you can offer.
MrParrott1 year ago
Still hoping for a reply to the below, but in the meantime, here are some drawings... One shows shadows of the frame (MDF, 1/4" and a little 1/2") and the stuff in it. The other show just the frame. I don't care so much about weight, as I usually have wheels or wings. I care more about strength and battery life. The included components are speakers (still need advice on the type), the amp board, two SLA 12v9ah batteries in 24v series, 7.5 amp fuse, Smart Charger, contura sealed rocker switches (dpst for power on/off and charge on/off), L and R Neutrik rca jacks, Blue Sea 24 volt Dual USB jack, etc. Have everything but the speakers... Just need to build it...
withstuff.pngwithoutstuff.png
The idea is to be able to put molding on the inner structure, and fasten it at the bottom at four points (where the feet are screwed on. The whole frame will come out with handles. The speakers are mounted straight to the box itself. I'm going to spray the inside with rubber bedliner spray.
mstoner1 year ago
@wrecks135
Thanks! I had a lot of fun with this project, and still use it on a regular basis. The Ipod controller and pad I have since disconnected, it seemed like it would be a cool feature to have, but it ended up being not that practical to use, and drained the batteries faster. The 7.3 volts was the required voltage to power the controller unit, which I achieved by using an adjustable voltage regulator, that is the small white unit next to the controller in the pictures. I found that simply running the audio input directly from the Ipod to the amplifier board was best for sound quality and simplicity. I turn the volume to about 95% max on the amp, and then use the ipod for volume control, you just have to be mindful of checking the volume level on the ipod before you turn it on, also it's best to only plug and unplug the ipod with the amp turned off, otherwise you can get a pretty loud pop through the speakers. If you have any other questions let me know!
mstoner2 years ago
Here is my ammo can project. It was inspired by the Thodio A-Box, and I admit I copied it to a large degree. Mine runs on 24 volts, the amp board, that is rated for 100w per channel, needs a minimum of 22 volts to even turn on, so it is powered by two 12 volt 8ah SLA batteries wired in series. They are charged with a 24 volt electric scooter charger. The Ipod controller board and touch pad were from a cheap Ihome dock. That is powered from the batteries, but through an adjustable voltage regulator tuned to 7.3 volts. The can is lined with 1/4 inch MDF, it took a fair amount of hand fitting to get all the seams good and tight, because the can itself is not all that uniform on the inside, and has curved edges. The board is bonded to the metal with contact cement. The lid is lined with foam that came out of a hard side waterproof camera case. The drivers are 4 inch Polk Audio, marine rated car speakers, mounted with all stainless steel hardware. I chose car speakers because the amp is rated for 4 ohms. The bass port works well, I found a formula that you plug in the numbers for speaker size and specs, and the cabinet volume, and it gives you the optimal diameter and length of the tube. I can't recall at the moment where I found the formula, but it was on a DIY audio forum. The sound it puts out is impressive, and will run for 6-7 hours at medium to medium high volume. I built it to be portable, but it is not light, it weighs in at 22 lbs. But it's still very practical for camping, the beach and backyard parties. The amp board I used can be found here: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Hifimediy-T2-2-100W-TRIPATH-TK2050-TC2000-10000uf-/140646110153?pt=US_Home_Audio_Amplifiers_Preamps&hash=item20bf2953c9
2010-07-10 14.21.25.jpg2010-07-10 16.29.56.jpg2010-07-14 18.21.16.jpg2010-07-16 17.07.45.jpg2010-07-16 17.08.18.jpg2010-07-23 16.06.14.jpg2010-07-23 16.06.31.jpg2010-07-20 18.32.46.jpg2010-07-23 16.17.59.jpg
Hey mstoner, nice project. Can you explain a little more about how you hooked up the ipod controller and touch pad and the 7.3 volt regulator? Also, how did you come up with 7.3 volts? I'm assuming that is the unit on the left side of the images?
mfr10031 year ago
Hello!

I am starting to gather materials for this. I am also considering the bluetooth receiver, but I wanted to add an LED light I cut off from an IKEA lamp. I would like the option of using the lamp and the music at the same time. Should I grab a rotary switch instead, one dial for music, one for lights, one for both? Or would this be a throw switch of some kind, SPDT, or SPTT? I can do without the bluetooth if that is too complicated, but if I'm taking this outdoors it should be common sense to have a bright light attached, especially single bright LED, which wont use too much energy, H hope. Thoughts?
If I got an amp with a USB input and a micro Bluetooth receiver, could I just stream my music?
scotprice1 year ago
I loved this project, but I am having difficulty getting the LED on the toggle switch to light up. I dont use the same toggle as mentioned in the parts list, but it is an illuminated toggle switch with LED light. I have tried everything I can to get the light to work, but nothing seems to help. Does anybody have any idea what might be going on? I did the same exact build as the instructable, so I havent switched anything up.
check out my instructable and see if that helps, i've used pictures rather than words so it should be fairly simple to understand.
http://www.instructables.com/id/Ammo-box-speakers-2/
http://www.instructables.com/id/Ammo-box-speakers-2/
Link to my ammo box instructable. Runs for 75 hours easily from 1 charge, check it out! This instructable was my inspiration!
100_2662.JPG100_2660.JPG100_2665.JPG
jricharc1 year ago
With the Kinter MA-160 it has a USB port built in, would this charge an iPod?
Yes it would, i've tried it. Your main problem will be battery life then though. it will half your battery life if not more.
1-40 of 190Next »