Introduction: BoomBucket: the Boombox Bucket!

Picture of BoomBucket: the Boombox Bucket!

If you like boomboxes and you like buckets, you're going to LOVE BoomBucket! In fact, it's pretty hard not to like, unless you're the neighbors hearing Enya play for an hour straight from the street below.

But this is an incredible device for everything from roving dance parties, the youth center jambox, or even easy listening Enya-style. But it does have enough boom to be a block-bustin' super-bucket.

We have built SO many of these, and each one is completely fun and different. There are so many modifications and possibilities, so add your great ideas below! The original design is very much from the brain of David Selassie, and a big thank you to Kim W. for gathering all the parts together.

The details:

  • What: BoomBucket!
  • Time: 2 hours
  • Cost: $115 (can substitute parts)
  • Materials:
  • Tools:
    • Drill
    • Jigsaw
    • Hot Glue gun (optional)
  • Concepts: Sound, Electronics, Circuits, Sound, Amps, Electro-Magnetism

Have so so so much fun, and send pictures!

Step 1: Prep Your Bucket for Speakers

Picture of Prep Your Bucket for Speakers

First remove the handle to your bucket. You don't want that clanging around.

Choose two opposing sides for your speakers. Measure the backs of your speakers such that you can screw-mount the front lip on the outside of the bucket, and have the rest of the speaker inside.

For the speakers listed in the directions, the diameter of the circle was 5.25", which just so happened to be the diameter of our roll of duct tape at that time.

Make a circle, then flip it over and do the same on the opposing bucket side.

Step 2: Cut Holes in Bucket for Speakers

Picture of Cut Holes in Bucket for Speakers

Time to open your bucket up! Drill in to your bucket, to make room for the jigsaw to enter. Then cut your two speaker holes for mounting.

Step 3: Mount Your Speakers

Picture of Mount Your Speakers

Place your speakers over the holes, and make four dots with a marker where the screw mounts will be. We find that it's best to mount the speakers upside-down so that the tabs are up for easy access.

Drill the holes, and then use a machine screw, a washer and nut to secure your speakers on. We've found that hand-tightening works well, but if you want, you can get a wrench or ratchet down in there to tighten if you want.

Step 4: Mount Your Amplifier

Picture of Mount Your Amplifier

Next up is your amp! Place the amp on the outside to mark where your machine nuts should go. Take it off, then mount your speakers on a third wall of the bucket.

We've found that mounting these amps (as listed in the parts list) is best with the electronics side up. It makes attachment easier. You will have to learn where the on/off and volume switches are in bottom, but we think it's worth it when you have to deal with cords.

Mount it any you please, though!

Step 5: Mount Your Battery With Velcro

Picture of Mount Your Battery With Velcro

Your lithium-ion battery will need to come out of the BoomBucket for charging, so we like Velcro for attachment.

A trick here is to stick the soft side on the back of the battery, and then layer the scratchy side over that. Then you can push it against the wall beneath your amp, and the velcro placement will line up perfectly. See the final photo for positioning.

Sidenote: We found this particular model of battery charges battery if you switch it in to the "On" position while charging.

Step 6: Wiring Time!

Picture of Wiring Time!

Let's get ready to wire (no-soldering needed)!

Our speakers came with crimp-on cables, so it makes it quite easy. Cut them down so it is a little longer than the distance needed to go from speaker to your amplifier. We crimped on the wires, then taped them along the side, and inserted them in to the amp. This is to keep wires from getting in your way when you reach in to the bucket.

The battery has a cord that goes directly in to the amp, so connect those, too!

Step 7: Make a Place for Your Audio Device

Picture of Make a Place for Your Audio Device

Next up you'll want to make a place to put your audio device.

We've made blue-tooth versions in the past, but for a convenient wired system, first up is to make a small hole in the bucket for your audio cord to go to. Connect one end to the input in your amp, and wire the other end of the audio cord so it come out your bucket.

Here is a duct tape pouch example for my phone, but you can do it with Velcro, phone-holders, or anything else depending on your use.

Step 8: You're Ready for BOOM! (some Extra Tips)

Picture of You're Ready for BOOM! (some Extra Tips)

You are ready to bring the party, to boom the un-boomed, and generally merry-make wherever you go. You'll find that a fully charged battery can last for about 4 hours of constant music at a high volume. Yay!

There are many modifications you can do, but the next step has some tricks and mods, too!

Step 9: Tips and Mods!

Picture of Tips and Mods!

Congratulations on your new BoomBucket pet! Here are some mods and care items to know about.

  1. Decorate! You may like the whole Storm-Trooper-white-plastic look, but make it your own with some nifty decorations. Colored duct tape and stickers work great.
  2. Re-enforce! The number one way that BoomBuckets become undone at dance parties is from a wire slipping out of the amp. There are many solutions, but a dab of hot glue there really does the trick.
  3. Don't crank it to 11! The amp can make the speakers go a wee too high with these models. Keep the volume level at a 9, and you'll be able to dance hard
  4. Make a mount! Some people have added attachments for bike panniers, others as backpacks! Ours just has a trusty webbing handle to be carried around.
  5. Write with any troubles! We love talking about this stuff, so stay in touch!

Happy Booming!


Yonatan24 (author)2015-12-16

You just inspired me in to making a teeny-tiny version of this!

I'll make sure to share pictures when I'm done

Padamveer (author)2015-08-20

Hi! Am a noob when working with electronics! Can you be kind enough and tell me a method to make this work with direct power?

Hey Padamveer!

Hey, no worries. So if you're looking for DC, the battery works directly that's included in the instructions. If you want to go directly from a wall with AC, luckily the amplifier comes with one of those cords. All you have to do is plug it into the wall, and the converter is in the rectangular box, so it will work great that way, too!

Did that help answer the question?

Yes, kind sir, it did! :D Thank you, I will try and make one now! :D

JeffS2 (author)2014-12-16

Friggin MINT! I work construction and use a radio but when it dies I'm making this. Have you noticed a difference in sound between a round vs. square bucket? if you even tried a round one. I know mounting the speakers would be a little more challenging but curious if it gives deeper base. like the old school bazooka tubes!

tclayton (author)JeffS22015-04-30

I just recently made a stereo out of old metal jif pb round cans and mounted just one speaker on the top lid and it sounds awesome! Im going to do this project with a round bucket as well

Hey Jeffs2!

Sorry it's been so long since you posted, but we haven't tried with the round buckets before (mostly because of the mounting issue) you described. I'd be super curious to know, thought!

danny6114 (author)2014-12-16

"Ain't Too Proud To Beg" Good taste!

Awww shucks, thanks danny 6114

baker420e (author)2014-12-16

Love it! The idea of bluetooth would make the unit water proof, which if you want to take it out on the boat is an awesome idea! Thanks for the instructable, great job and going to make one of these for my sailboat this summer on the water! No Enya though, lol.

That sounds wonderful, so excited it's helpful, and yes, bluetooth makes it totally waterproof indeed!

gmessenger (author)2014-12-16

I think some people are missing the point here... this isn't a hi-fi audiophile system engineered and modeled using Thiele/Small parameters and math... it's a "boom bucket"! Hehehe! It's not intended to have heavy MDF walls, or other "proper" speaker engineering applied to the design... this is a simple plastic bucket with a speaker in it and it works fine for what it is intended for :-)

Good job on the Instructable and great idea!

If the sound is boomy sounding or exhibits harsh peaks in the response curve at certain frequencies due to the flexible and rather symetrical enclosure (as opposed to a proper enclosure that would follow the 'golden rule' to avoid favoring any particular frequency), I would try stuffing the space inside the pail with bonded quilt batting... It won't add any weight, and will likely remove most of the resonances that will likely crop up and annoy those of you with more 'tuned' ears.

Well said, gmessenger, well said

xaenon (author)2014-12-14

Incidentally, instead of spending five or six dollars on a plastic pail (like on the list in the instructable), you can go to the grocery store and buy one full of cat litter, usually for not much more than that - plus you won't have to pay shipping. Cat litter, particularly the clumping variety, is a great absorbent for spills and eco-friendly, and it's handy to have around the house or shop. If you don't have cats, but know someone who does, you could probably get a pail for nothing, complete with lid, just by asking. Some brands of winter road salt come in similar pails, but I'd be sure to wash them out thoroughly first, because salt residue can do evil things to electronics.

This is a great call indeed! Thank you for the bucket-finding tip. It took us a while to find the square one as most local stores had the rounded buckets, so this is a great call! Now to find a friend with a cat.....

Oakland. ... excellent..! your shop looks like mine.... I have a collection of over 30 very sturdy 5 gal Chicago pickle buckets..... (round) Wish these could be used. ... but component mounting would be tough. .. Any thoughts or project's for these clean bright yellow buckets that held non-toxic ....?!? Thanks

Whoa! 30 buckets can do a lot of wonderful things. We'll write back soon with ideas!

xaenon (author)MEGACYCLES2014-12-16

5-gallon pails always have a use somewhere, especially if you have airtight lids for them. I used to fill them with sand and put them in the back of my pickup truck during winter months (for extra weight on the rear wheels to get better traction). They're also good for tool caddies, storage, trash cans, etc. There are instructables detailing how to make a cheap manual clothes-washer out of them. I know a couple of people (who are convinced that civilization will collapse any day now) who bury supplies in 5-gallon plastic pails. Along a similar (and more optimistic) line, fill one with a first-aid kit, rations, and other equipment and supplies to make an automotive emergency kit - the smaller 2- and 3-gallon pails are ideal for this, but it can be done with 5-gallon pails, too. It's easily carried in the trunk of a car and transferred to another vehicle if needed. One fellow I knew built a 'lan party' computer in one. Turn one up side-down - a handy-dandy stool. Fill one with ice - an improvised cooler (not as good as a real one, but hey, it's cheap, durable, and good for a couple of hours). People who live in more remote areas can use them to catch rain water for gardens, flush water, etc. I use them to store pet food (food-grade plastics only for this, please) - keeps bugs, mice, etc. out. If you do your own oil changes, pails like this are great for storing the used oil until it can be recycled. Keep a plastic bucket or two filled with water or dirt near a camp fire - great for making sure a fire is put out quickly and completely.

mwilson16 (author)2014-12-17

I presently use a 5 gallon round bucket with a 12" sub in it and tho it does not like being in open air environments, it works awesome under tables or anything to give it that extra acoustic advantage. Amp is only 50 watts (even though speaker handles about 300 watts), but it does rattle the nabers despite the lower power of the amp! Location location location, it's true. it matters. Ok, it's not portable, but I just wanted to comment about bucket boxes, they really can work if you use them right.

Whoa! Quite awesome, do you have a picture of it? I'd love to see sub-bucket!

alamason (author)2015-04-10

We used hot glue to keep the wires inside place of the amp.

riff raff (author)2014-12-21

Great instructable. However, I can't help but think that your sound quality could be much improved by adding something to eliminate the standing waves in your enclosure. Like cubes of fiberglass batting or foam.

Absolutely right, riff raff! Some of our boombucket makers have added in foam, and it does make sound quality significantly better. Thank you for the comment, and we'll add it in to the ending section!

Jack Moran (author)2014-12-19

We did this with a garbage bin :).

akale3 (author)2014-12-18

Great idea!!!

akale3 (author)2014-12-18

Great idea!!!

gunnerds (author)2014-12-16

Save some money, and go to McDonald's or Burger King and ask the manger for a pickle bucket. Or you can get a cheap orange one from Home Depot. I would go to Radio Shack or some kinda electric store and get tie wrap bases and tie wraps for the wires. And I would make strong case for the player. Just my 2 cents.

houston (author)2014-12-16

How long will the 4500mAh battery last?

brittonv (author)houston2014-12-16

From the article:
You'll find that a fully charged battery can last for about 4 hours of constant music at a high volume. Yay!

houston (author)brittonv2014-12-16

Damn, sorry!
Have searched for the term "long" >_<

The Lightning Stalker (author)2014-12-16

The plastic in these buckets is very flexible. You can get much better sound by using a box made from MDF and speakers that are designed to go in a box. Good speakers will have the Thiele/Small paramaters specified and you can use those to calculate the ideal box volume. Avoid "free-air" or "infinite baffle" speakers unless you will be mounting them to a simple baffle plate that has the backs exposed. Putting that type in a closed box will actually make them sound worse.

Mounting the speakers on the same side of the box, or better yet making 2 boxes, one for each speaker, allowing them to be directly aimed at the listener will again vastly improve sound quality.

Using component sets or coaxials/triaxials with separate low/mid/high and crossovers will again further improve sound quality if they are decent sets.

mid_life_crisis (author)2014-12-16

A couple of small sheets of the least expensive sound deadener you can find (imitation dynamat) applied to the inside would pay huge dividends in sound quality while being easy to apply. Shop around and it shouldn't add much cost either.

Another suggestion to potentially improve sound (for free) is to put the speakers in adjacent sides. If you do that and place it against a wall, or better yet in a corner, (speakers facing out, not at the wall) you should get an acoustic coupling effect that significantly enhances the base. Experiment with the distance from the wall to determine what works best. I'm going to admit up front that I'm not sure what effect the drivers being at a 45 degree angle to the wall will have on the coupling. It's worth trying though if you have access to a friend who normally throws buckets like this away.

chinda.raul (author)2014-12-16


just a quick thought on the better sound line of thought: you can place a smaller bucket inside the bigger one, and fill the gap with expanding foam. Now you just created resonance free wall, still lightweight and watertight. And you can still use your friends' cat for the two boxes ...

swaxman (author)2014-12-16

awesome instructable : for those who cant afford to buy parts for any instructable : urban salvage is the way to go. finding parts and materials is as simple as looking through trade/construction bins outside building sites , or go to your local charity shop, Im finding more and more charity shops are throwing out good things.

djohnson90 (author)swaxman2014-12-16

awesome advice!

roanbuma (author)2014-12-13

You should have made a wood box inside, sounds much better than the plastic and makes it worth more the 115$ :)

xaenon (author)roanbuma2014-12-13

A wooden box would sound better, that's true, but I think you might be missing the point of this instructable. The idea here seems to be to put something together from things that are already available. If you make a wooden box for the speakers, you don't need to bother with the plastic tub. And yes, it might be 'worth' more than $115 if it was a wooden box, but it would also cost more in terms of materials, time, and effort.

bud_maker_mike (author)xaenon2014-12-13

I like the square plastic tub. It's water tight. Lighter than wood. If you need to improve your bass, add a little sound insulation inside . I notice too that the top of the tub is just about the right size for about five watts of solar cells. I been wanting to build something like this. There are a lot of different audio amps on eBay and elsewhere. some finished, some are not mounted in a box making easy to mount the switches and pots where they are easily accessable from the outside. I mean I could go on and on here, which is what I like about this instructable. Lots of ways to build to suit your taste and requirements.

That's lovely! Thank you for the great feedback. And we love the idea of more modifying. Let us know if you come up with any more thoughts on this.

xaenon (author)bud_maker_mike2014-12-14

I like it the idea of the plastic tub, too. One more thing kept out of a landfill, easy to work with, and the interior volume should be enough to provide some good bass response. Plus, it has a bit of moisture resistance. I like your idea of solar cells on the lid. I'd fit quite a few more options to it - for example, a USB port to power the MP3 player (or to charge a phone), and maybe a larger battery for extended use. There are so many possibilities!

A great suggestion indeed! And that's one of the neatest things now is that we hope you can take what's useful to you and use it however you want. A wooden box version of this would be great indeed!

For us, the plastic bucket works because it's quirky, weird, stable, waterproof, and works well as a bike pannier and isn't too heavy. It's fun and pretty indestructible. But for great sound if you're going to keep it one place, you should definitely make a beautiful wooden one. That sounds great!

matt63031 (author)roanbuma2014-12-13

What's with everyone talking trash on people's great ideas. if you have creative criticism, make your version and show what your enhanced version would be. stop being so darn rude.

artworm (author)2014-12-14

Like the simple setup. Thnx for the ideas. I have a old wooden box and wil use your tutorial for this. Only thing i dont like is the finish. Its not a beauty for the 115 dollars. Try a piece of leather or fabric for the phone holder. Instead of the tape. :)

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