Introduction: Outdoor 3-Way Speaker Sound System 12V

Picture of Outdoor 3-Way Speaker Sound System 12V

This is a active speaker construction that works on a 12V battery. The speaker gives you the opportunity to throw a party on any given location.

The first part of the instructable consist of making the speaker box. The second part consist of installing the speakers and the amplifiers.

Step 1: Size of the Box

Picture of Size of the Box

To determine the size of your speaker boxes you got to have the speaker drivers. For the material of the speaker box best use MDF, it's heavy but relatively cheap and it has a high level of density which makes it perfect for speaker boxes.

You also need some screws, nails (optional), glue, a filler to stuff the box with (like polyfill) and silicon to seal the edges.

For tools you need a saw, screwdriver, centimetre, a drill, compasses and a jigsaw.

I split it into two boxes; one for two sub woofer speakers and one for three woofers and two tweeters.

To determine the size of your boxes check the optimal volume and displacement for each driver. For the two 15 inch sub woofers I use a case os 92 by 65 by 40 cm (internal dimensions) For the other case I use 92 by 65 by 30. The MDF I use is 15mm thick.

Step 2: Putting the Pieces Together

Picture of Putting the Pieces Together

Saw the MDF into the right dimensions and put these together using the nails the screws and the glue.

Step 3: Using Braces

Picture of Using Braces

Use braces to prevent the box from flexing. A brace is a piece of wood inside of the box. There are different ways a speaker can be braced:

Step 4: Using Battans

Picture of Using Battans

Battans is another type of bracing that is used to secure all the edges of the box. It is a thin piece of wood that runs along the joints of the box. It does't need to cover the entire length, about 2/3 should do it.

Step 5: Making the Speaker Holes

Picture of Making the Speaker Holes

For the making of the speaker holes you need a jigsaw. Put the actual speaker on the place where you want the hole to be. Allign these, subtract 1 to 1.5 cm with your compasses. Drill a hole in the middle so you can put the jigsaw in. When you have done this you can start sawing out the hole.

Step 6: Finish the Box

Picture of Finish the Box

Now you can assemble the parts. I've put the top in a little deeper so and covered the sides with a little piece of wood (same as I've used for the battans). This way, when I put the speakers in it they don't stand out.

Since my mobile sound system is going to be used outdoors I needed something to protect the wood from mother nature. I therefore used not regular paint but tar. This doesn't really look very smooth, but it will protect my speakers better than regular household paint.

So the speaker box is almost ready now, only got to stuff it and silicon the inner edges. With the stuffing I'm going to wait for a while because I'm first going to build in the amplifiers.

(note: when using silicon to seal the edges, wait at least one day to put in the speakers, the fumes can eat away your speakers)

Step 7: The Amplifiers

Picture of The Amplifiers

For the total of 7 speakers I use 3 amplifiers. One for the bass, one for the mids and one for the tweeters. Since the bass uses the most power, it's recommandeble to give the bass the amplifier with the highest output.

I use car amplifiers because they are already set for working on a 12V battery.

Installing the amps:

Put a little strip of rubber between the the amp and the wood, then screw the amp to the speaker box. It's now a little shock proof.

Connection the amps:

You need to drill some holes in the speaker box, for each amp 3 holes for power, and in each box 2 holes for your line input. I also put a "threw" in one of the boxes (2 holes).

The power connection from a 12V amplifier contains three switches, a GND, a RMT and a +12V:
-The GND is the GROUND and is supposed to be connected to the - on the battery.

-The RMT is the REMOTE, this is supposed to be the switch that turns the amp on and off. You can use a actual switch here, I didn't use a switch. I switch it in manual by connecting it on and off the 12V battery. The RMT is supposed to be connected to the + on the battery. (Note: if the RMT doesn't get power, the amp doesn't work, because it's "off")

-The +12V is supposed to be connected to the + on the 12V battery

For the line-in, the amps have a tulp connection. Since I go from one source to three amps I needed to split the signal. I therefore used 2 X "2x tulp female to 2x tulp male / 2x tulp female".

Use the speaker connection from the amp to connect your speakers. If you only connect 1 speaker to each amplifier you can use the bridged connection. If you use more than one speaker try to use equal speakers. Don't connect three or five, always try to equalize the output. Best just don't use more than two speakers directly for each amp. Except when the amp has more outputs.

Step 8: Using a Cross-over

Picture of Using a Cross-over

In a 3-way system you split the frequency (hertz) that every amp sends to the speakers. This way the bass gets only the low frequencies, the mid speakers the mid frequencies etc. Therefore you use a cross-over. I was lucky that most amplifiers I used already contained a cross-over. I used one extra passive cross-over.

Step 9: The 12V Battery

Picture of The 12V Battery

The battery that I use is 105Ah. With the use of Ohm's law you can calculate the time the battery should run on your system.

When using such a amount of power from a 12V battery make sure you use thick power cables, else your system simply doesn't get enough power to reach his maximum.

Step 10: Finish the Speaker

Picture of Finish the Speaker

Now that everything is installed and the box is stuffed you can screw on the speaker drivers. Make sure that you mount all the screws. To prevent the speaker vibrating on the wood (and making a awful sound) I have placed a piece of carpet in between.

Now you're ready to hook up you're mp3, mic, or whatever you want to connect to the speaker and terrorize your neighbourhood.



RockeyDA (author)2016-07-25

i use ether 2 large truck batteries and a 50 amp charger or a 100amp charger alone.

but i thing you would have respect for my ghetto setup.

RockeyDA (author)RockeyDA2016-07-25

also my tape measure only has imperial. inside of my enclouser 3.8cuft

RockeyDA (author)RockeyDA2016-07-25

also my tape measure only has imperial. inside of my enclouser 3.8cuft

rburton1 (author)2011-03-31

ten minutes ,at max party would need 6 batterries .and 2 chargers to keep batteries going ..ive been there and done that ..nice idea but.....

gkirkby (author)rburton12011-08-18

Not true my friend, inless you use terribly inefficient amps and inverters.
6 hours out of one leisure battery including lights is standard.

Get yourself down to the next 12v teknival in Bristol,
since the police have no problems with 12v free parties...

bumpus (author)2008-06-17

That looks really professional, i would buy it :D

groovy (author)bumpus2010-11-03

You guys have all lost it

Handsome-Ryan (author)2008-06-19

I like what you built, the craftsmanship is fantastic, but your instructable is lacking many important details. I respect what you built but since this is instructables, I'll offer some tips that may benefit others who want to use car audio equipment outside of a car. First, it is important to note that car audio devices were designed to run off the current from a car's alternator NOT a car's battery. Unless you invest in a deep cycle battery, this regular cycle of charging and discharging will ruin a standard car battery very quickly. Next, in step 7 you completely breezed over calculating the resistance of speakers when using more than one per amplifier output. People attempting to replicate this should be aware of what resistance their particular amplifier is capable of handeling and if you wire speakers to run lower resistance you increase power draw and will discharge your battery much faster. Finally, it is not usually a good idea to put amplifiers inside speaker boxes because there is not enough air flow and the amplifiers give of a lot of heat that needs to be disapated. I would sugest mounting the amps to the outside of the boxes rather than the inside to avoid putting them all into power-protect mode just as the party is getting cranked up. Other than that, I'm very impressed at how well constructed your boxes are and how clean the finished product is. Very nice.

I recently built a miniature version of something similar to this (one amp and two 6.5" speakers) as part of a trailer mounted bicycle stereo.

Stereo Trailer Pic

Trailer Pic 2

xana (author)Handsome-Ryan2009-11-08

Just to say there is a lot of air flow in the two boxes because of the mid-range and sub-woofers. but i do agree that it would drain the battery vary fast.

just get a car battery charger, and run the amps while you're charging the battery, it shouldn't make a difference (kill your battery) if you do that

Lurch (author)Sandisk1duo2008-09-20

Kind of defeats the '12V' aspect of it then does it not? You need more than a standard battery charger to make sure it works like that anyway. Most battery chargers will throw out around 4A peak, not enough to keep the battery topped up all night and definitely not enough to keep the amps running as well as charge the battery. You may as well do away with the battery and build a decent fixed voltage power supply, or use a better set of batteries that don't need a charger sat on them all night.

Sandisk1duo (author)Lurch2008-09-20

i have a charger that can put out 40 amps, and a couple seconds of 100amps

Lurch (author)Sandisk1duo2008-09-20

Well, I didn't say it was impossible, just not practical to. It's generally best not to use car battery chargers to power devices anyway.

slimguy379 (author)2009-09-30

why do u have the same gauge wire for the remote as you do the power? any specific benefits?

baneat (author)2008-07-17

Maybe you should consider some of those strong mesh covers for the drivers so people can't poke holes in them..

DIY Dave (author)baneat2009-07-04

Where do they sell mesh covers for speakers?

baneat (author)DIY Dave2009-07-06

You're on a DIY site, come on. really? they would be very easy to make.

hg341 (author)2009-07-04

how would I go about make a backpack one with the same power or would it be to damn heavy

bobmcbob_345 (author)2009-03-26

You should make a place inside the cabnets to put the 12 v battery in. It could help save a little space

hell_raiser_1 (author)2009-02-20

How about adding a usb, ipod, cd, car stereo. you could also add a power invertor or something like that... NICE WORK

Henkies (author)2008-10-05

How long does it run, following your experience?

Handsome-Ryan (author)2008-06-19

How are you using Ohms law to calculate run time? There are so many factors affecting run time including amplifier gain settings, ambient temperature, the non-linear discharge rate of the battery, and even the volume and type of music being played.

get an amp meter, play music for a muinute, check how many amps are drawn, then TRY to calculate

i8_power_shooter_18 (author)2008-07-16

Hey bro that is awesome.If u could give me a little help with something im a big bicycle rider an i want a stereo system for my bicycle odd tho it would be awesome lol.I got a mp3 player id like to use along with a few speakers nothing big as the ones that u got lol.Could u tell me what wiring or amp or just what i would need i want it to have good bass if u would please give me a email on or just on here or anybody knowing what i need to do this thank you.

just get computer speakers, and power them with an RC car battery

DIY Dave (author)2008-08-23

Very professional looking

pepitosbazzeguti (author)2008-08-12

Great work........Is this system good for music instruments too ?

abadfart (author)2008-08-12

or i could put it in a trailer so we can use the truck for the drums

abadfart (author)2008-08-12

nice can you run a guitar through it maybe my friend and i can mount speakers on Thelma (his truck) or in my car for shows

sinous (author)2008-08-11

Information is wide ranging and a good start. My only issues are a) Impedence and wiring - more info/? eg b) Running time - how long? c) Using car woofers off a car battery - what about using a pro 15" which will be about 9dB louder for the same power(less low bass though)-giving you longer run time. This is where u can get alot more out of the same battery - being louder to start with - not by adding bigger amps. d) How to charge(without ruining battery) *SPL: 97 dB 1W/1m

DJNASHA (author)2008-06-30

i love it .i wish i'd seen this sooner be for i started my d.j biz keep it coming make more bro

thefreshlettuce (author)2008-06-17

How much did this cost? It looks fantastic!

yes very cool but I too would like to know how much this cost because this seems quite expensive because you have 3 amps- $30 (that's a steal for car amp!!!) mdf at least 6 sheets of mdf - $8 and the speakers look new so.... Well I'm not going to try to put a price tag on 5 huge speakers. but then again you made the thing so I'll let you explain the price issue

my guess will be between $120 and $175.

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