Introduction: Car Stereo to Home Stereo With a PSU

Picture of Car Stereo to Home Stereo With a PSU

I'm going to show you how to run a car stereo using an old PC power supply. If you're bored and want a project, or you're like me and just like making things instead of going out and buying purpose built ones, this is for you.
If you manage to screw up your stereo, speakers, power supply or anything else, don't blame me.
Also, this is my first Instructable, so it was kind of a learning curve on how this website works. 

Step 1: What You Need

Picture of What You Need

You'll need:
Car stereo- I'm using a Sony Xplod CDX-R3000
Speakers- I have a set of Acoustic Research and a set of RCA speakers
PSU- old computer power supply
Wire strippers
Speaker wire 
Electrical tape

Step 2: Wire Your PSU

Picture of Wire Your PSU

To start, find the large connector on your PSU. 
Now, find the green and black wires right next to each other. Put a piece of wire between these as a jumper. This will make the PSU power up when you turn the switch on. 

Step 3: Wiring Your Stereo

Picture of Wiring Your Stereo

To begin with, get the red, yellow and black on the stereo
Red is ignition, yellow is constant and black is ground.
Twist the red and yellow wires together. This is to make the stereo power up. 

Step 4: Stereo and PSU Meet at Last

Picture of Stereo and PSU Meet at Last

This is where the stereo and power supply meet at last
Find one of the four pin connectors, with the yellow, black and red wires on it
You need a yellow and black wire next to each other
The black ground on your stereo goes to the black wire on the connector
The red and yellow on the stereo go to the yellow wire on the connector

Step 5: Wire Speakers

Picture of Wire Speakers

This is about as simple as it gets. Almost all car stereos follow the same wiring diagram. Just hook your speakers up the same way.
You can solder all the wires for a permanent installation, but I'm constantly changing what I have so I just twist and tape.  
You won't need the blue antenna wire, brown (if yours has one for muting), blue with white line unless you add an amp and sub, light green (parking brake) if you have one, or orange (illumination) as most aftermarket stereos don't have an illumination wire. 
Gray and white are front speakers, green and purple are rear speakers. Negative has a black strip on it, positive is a solid color. 

Step 6: Plug It In, Power It Up

Picture of Plug It In, Power It Up

The time has come to test it.
Plug the cord in, and hit the switch, and hope it works.
If you did everything right, it should work fine.

Step 7: You're Done!

Picture of You're Done!

This is the finished product set up in my bedroom. 
You turn it on and off with the switch on the PSU. 
Don't bother setting the clock or anything, because it loses its memory every time you shut it off


ZackO7 (author)2017-04-10

Can you directly wire this to your house maybe I have a crappy mobile home with an even crappier wired in radio with speakers throughout the house the radio stopped working last month this would save me alot of money

avsrinivas (author)2016-11-27

Thanks for the detailed instructions! I made one for my home over the weekend. Had a PSU lying inside a PC cabinet I hadn't used in years. And a brand new car stereo I'd bought on clearance about 6 years ago and never used (since the new car I bought around the same time came with a decent factory-installed stereo).

In my over-enthusiasm in clearing up the jungle of wires from the PSU, I ended up cutting off all the yellow and black wires as well - close to the PCB. Nothing to do but buy a new PSU. All the computer hardware stores around were selling overpriced crap PSUs. Thankfully, Amazon came to the rescue with a next day delivery of a new PSU.

Now, my bedroom stereo has a CD player, twin USBs, Bluetooth, and Chromecast audio! All that remains now is an FM antenna, and I'll be set. Maybe even hook up my bedroom TV to the speakers, using a stereo mixer (Altoids to the rescue!)

kumangai (author)2016-08-26

PSU output its 240v.. how do i make it ? can i just follow your step ?

binodpanda66 (author)2016-05-16

I have a car stereo but I have lost the back side socket plug of 12 pins. So now, What should I do ?? I think posting some images might help u great people to help me... :-)

If it's any name brand stereo like Pioneer, Sony, JVC, etc you should be able to just order a new plug for it online. Search the model number of the radio and you should be able to find one

There is a conflict between my pc monitor and car stereo(connected through AUX to PC) ...... I can explain the problem if u r willing to help......

Note.: monitor is connected through VGA(analogue).... I guess it may b the reason.... Any help is appreciated.. :-)

JoshuaW22 (author)binodpanda662016-07-15

whats the problem

ScottL118 (author)89JeepComanche2016-06-25

Also check Crutchfield. They have wiring harnesses for almost every make and model.

DanaE4 (author)2015-10-08

Hey what happens if your PSU that I took out of a gateway with windows ME does not have a power switch? I think I have everything hook up just the way you said, but the PSU doesn't have a on switch. Any thoughts?

JoshuaW22 (author)DanaE42016-07-15

go to your local hardware store and buy a switch for the cord of the psu you are using, wire it up to the cord and use that as the switch for your power supply. alternatively you can open up the PSU and add a switch that way

89JeepComanche (author)DanaE42015-10-12

It shouldn't matter what the PSU came out, they should all work, and they don't need to have a switch to work. On the biggest connector on the PSU, did you jump the dark green wire to a ground? This is how you trick the PSU into powering up

ScottL118 (author)2016-06-25

If you have a detachable face unit, you can just turn the unit off by detaching the face and your settings (station pre-sets, clock) should remain intact. You can keep the PSU on.

Over 30 years ago, I hooked up the radio (AM/FM analog stereo radio only) from my Mom's '77 Ford Granada to a 12 volt supple and the only problem I had was that the light stayed on after I turned the radio off. I had to unplug the 12 volt supply to turn the light off,

Also...shouldn't you have an antenna attached to the unit? I did for mine.

ratner.eli (author)2016-04-08

thanx. looks what i need. may be with lasercut box will be nice home stereo.

RussellJ2 (author)2015-05-16


I had some old car stereo components in my garage this morning and wanted to complete this very same project. I also had an old working PC power supply, so your post is very appealing. This is a great idea, and I'm sure this could work very well.

I may still try to use your idea of the PC power supply. Or, I may go purchase a relatively cheap automotive AC/DC power inverter for the task.

I want my installation to be permanently mounted, and above all, SAFE, when I am completed. The only way I can ensure this is to check my work with a cheap multimeter, available from most large hardware stores for <$20.

Your vehicle's electrical distribution system is a regulated 12VDC system. This should be supplied to your stereo in parallel across the black wire and red/yellow twisted pair.

The power supply may or may not be capable of the amperage output your stereo will draw. The power supply itself may have a sticker to notify you of the maximum amperage draw. The stereo will most likely have a similar sticker, letting you know the maximum expected amperage draw. In reality, the amperage draw will depend on the speakers used and the listening level. The amperage can be tested by breaking the line between the stereo and amp on either side (but some cheap multimeters will only allow you to read a positive amperage).

In addition, your car electrical system is fused to protect from an overcurrent condition from damaging electrical components and starting a fire. Adding a simple, cheap fuse harness with a fuse rated for your stereo can help prevent a disastrous outcome.

Overall, great idea! I must admit, I have never performed this task myself. I woke up this morning and wanted to try it and your post was the first I found. My goal is only to be helpful and enhance.

Take care, and good luck.

89JeepComanche (author)RussellJ22015-05-24

I never bothered to check amperages and I never bothered with a fuse on mine, especially because there's a 10amp fuse in the back of car stereos, but the power supply has been on and the radio in standby when it's not being used since I made this Instructable. I've never once turned it off, except to change the stereo to one with an AUX and USB and clean up the wiring, and it's never gotten hot or given me a problem once. I had similar concerns at first too, so I kept an eye on it the first couple days it was hooked up, but it never popped a fuse or overheated, so I just let it be and it's never done anything since. You can always use an inverter if you want, but I used a PSU simply because I had three of them lying around. Thanks for the comment, and good luck with yours.

jallen65 (author)2013-10-24

Would this work to power an amp as well?

89JeepComanche (author)jallen652013-10-25

I've been tinkering with that. What I did is I got an Xbox 360 power supply, and cut the end that goes into the Xbox off. I twisted the three yellow wires together, three black wires together, and twisted the red and blue together. The three yellow go to the positive on the amp, the three black go to the negative on the amp, and the blue and red are just to make the power supply turn on. Then I just connected the remote on the amp to the remote on the head unit with a switch so I could turn it on and off when I feel like it. Don't use a high end amp or an amp you really like though, because I can't guarantee it won't wreck it.

jallen65 (author)89JeepComanche2013-10-26

I read some more ibles and I have a pc power supply working to power up the amp but its 18 amps and both amps i have are over 30 amps, how much amperage is the xbox power supply?

Ziaius (author)jallen652015-03-06

it's not a good idea to use psu from xbox. from what I found- they are not that powerful 12-17A. my old PSU from IBM pentium 4 has more punch :) And xbox one has 17V output .. which is not directly what you need..

89JeepComanche (author)jallen652013-10-27

Dunno, to be honest. I don't know how many amps any of what I'm using is. All I know is, I wire it up and it works. I don't pay attention to the scientific side of matching amps and wattages and all that jazz.

Ziaius (author)2015-03-04

Nice job! :) I am almost there too, but at the moment I have PSU connected to car stereo. And there is an issue already. Through the speakers there is loud noise - audio volume doesn't affect it. Noise is there when I play music from my laptop using 3.5 audio cable And laptop is connected to the mains for charging.

I think that's what's called ground loop noise. And people suggest buying ground loop isolators for audio cables (typically RCA). Or one can build it with two 600 Ohms transformers with 1:1 ratio.
But! People also say that it reduces audio quality. Which I would like to avoid if I can.

SO. I wonder could I break my ground loop where I connect PSU to Car Stereo (12v and ground)?

Any suggestions?

89JeepComanche (author)Ziaius2015-03-05

I've played my laptop through my new setup, which is an older, no name radio with a 3.5 aux in wired the same way, and I've never had a problem with any kind of noise, except for when I had a bad aux cable which caused a lot of buzzing. I've never had any problems with the setup itself making noise, so I don't really know what could be causing your problem

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