How to Make a Camping Radio





Introduction: How to Make a Camping Radio

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     This  is a  homemade camping radio that I made from a piece of wood , A car stereo ,speakers and a power converter .The sound is incredible.It is a car  stereo, cd player, with a jack to play music from your ipod .In my younger years i bought my first mechanics tool box and decided i wanted to put a car stereo in it .So i bought a stereo, a set of speakers and a 12 volt converter .  As the years went by the novelty kinda wore off.
            So i decided to make use of the 12 volt converter since i already owned it. All i needed was a piece of wood  and a upgraded car stereo and speakers, we needed a new radio for our patio anyways because the one we have doesn't work very well. So this is what i came up with.

Step 1: Making the Stereo Box

The wood that i used  for the box to fit the stereo , cd , ipod player into  is a pine board 1x12x8 pine board.I cut the wood so it would be deep enough to carry good sound for listening to music. I  cut 2 pieces 27inches long and then ripped them two 10 1/2 inches wide .I  then used a router and a 1/2 inch round over bit  to router all the edges.
      The next step was to  cut the board for the face of the radio, which was cut  24inches long by 9 inches wide.
    The 3rd step was to cut 2 side boards  which were cut  9 inches long by 9 inches wide.
     The  4th step  was to  start assembling the box. l put a light coat of glue on all  the  mating surfaces and  used some small finishing nails to hold it together so the glue could dry.

Step 2: Cutting Holes for the Stereo and Speakers

I decided to put the stereo in the center of the wood face board 2 inches down from the top. the speakers I moved in on each side edge 2 inches and  cut the 5 inch holes.

Step 3: Staining and Polyurethane

I decided on a darker color stain so I went with minwax  provincial shade.
 I like to use minwax water based polycrylic  fora protective coat and sealer because it doesnt have a odor and it will dry clear.

Step 4: The Heart of the Matter!

1st pic  shows the stereo and speaker set I bought from walmart. Its not a expensive one . Its not needed for the size of the box and how it is going to be used. besides if I know me I would be getting yelled at by the wife because its to loud so I went conservative which is not like me....... I did though decide to put 4 speakers in it instead of only 2.

2nd  pic shows the  orginal  12 volt power converter I purchased over25 years ago when I put a stereo in my very first  tool box I every owned .

3rd pic shows all the components I had to purchase for the antenna since I never had one to fit into the new  car stereo.

Step 5: Istalling the Stereo and Speakers

I installed the speakers first with number 6 screws. The I siliconed  the  stereo faceplate where it was going to be touching the wood for a good seal.

Step 6: Securing the Components

1st pic shows the power converter mounted under the stereo with a thick bead of silicone for support.

2nd pic hows the  T bracket  i made from a 3/4 x 3/4 piece of angle iron to support the back of the stereo.

3rd pic shows the t bracket mounted

Step 7: Wire Harness

1pic shows the two wiring harnesses installed. the top plug is for the speakers. the bottom harness is for the power.

2nd and  3rd pic shows how to wire the stereo to the power and speakers. The red and yellow wires go to the power side of the converter. the black wire goes to the ground side of the converter.
The purple and purple with black stripe go to the right rear speaker
The aqua and aqua and black stripe goes to the left rear speaker..
The grey and grey with black stripe goes to the right front speaker
The white with white and black goes to the left front speaker

Step 8: Installing the Antenna

1st i had to drill a 3/8s hole in the top of the radio box to fit the motorola  3/8s connector
2nd  i installed the antenna adapter into the back of the stereo.
3rd i plugged the two ends of the antenna cable to the stereo and the antenna.

Step 9: Handle

I then bought a handle which i think is for a barn door but i wanted a black one and this is what i could find.

Step 10: Finished

Step 11: Sounds Great



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It looks fantastic . The only thing I would change is that antenna. If your cabinet is not made of metal, you will need to use a marine antenna, or an antenna that does not need to be grounded to a metal base for the best reception . Other wise, it looks great. Good job.


Nice looks, since you got a lot of extra room, you could add a lead-acid or NiMH battery(pack), use a relay: when connected to mains: charge battery, when disconnected: normal state battery power. Also nice gadget: bluetooth audio receiver, play music from your phone or laptop wireless within a range of 10 meters(without obstacles)

How would you set it up to charge batteries when plugged up and to run off batteries when unplugged. What type of switch?

In the one I made I use a solar charge controller and I'm able to switch between the power supply or a solar panel.

If weight doesn't matter use a Lead-acid battery, cheap in Amp/Hours, simple but heavy, connect a standard lead-acid charger and in between the charger and battery a big diode to prevent leakage current back to the charger.

If weight is important, Li-Ion is the way to go nowadays, on ebay or you can find cheap battery protection, search for BMS 4S (serial) and 18650 cells, 4 in series, multiple in parallel for more Amp/hours, the BMS switches and regulates the charge and discharge process, BMS will be around $15-20, cells don't buy the >3 amp/hour as these are not intended for large currents as the radio could use 10 amps. If possible, use Samsung, LG, or Panasonic as these are the best. Or salvage from powertool or laptop batteries....

Thinking about building this, just wondering what thickness of wood you used?

Cool and there is still room there for two 12 volt gel cell batteries to make it truly portable. Great job!

reminds me of "ghost dog" he has one just like this when hes putting together his weapons