A few years back a friend wanted me to build a floating stereo for his yearly lazy river trip. We didn't have the funds at the time but since I opened up a stereo installation shop I've gotten access to tons of cheap and second hand parts. This year I got invited to go on a lazy river down the Wisconsin river so I knew it was the right time to build a prototype.

The ice chest/cooler boom box has been done 1000 times so I knew I had to think of something different, and I didn't want to completely butcher a working cooler. My original sketches were to made a floating unit that looked like an ocean buoy but that had speakers built into it. My second sketch was to make a tall pyramid of the iconic yellow "Slippery When Wet" sign. However after some thought I decided that I should try to make this particular radio have as low a center of gravity as possible. Many other ideas including cup holders, waterproof storage etc were thrown out in lieu of cost effectiveness and time to build. Bottom line we've got a dedicated stereo with a simple design.

As per usual, I forgot to take as many pictures as I would have liked during the build process, please feel free to ask any questions.

Step 1: Wood cuts

The enclosure is comprised of three main parts.

  • -3/4" Plywood
  • -5 gallon pail
  • -Implement(farm) inner tube

Again, I used SketchUp to help me create proper dimensions that would allow everything to fit well.

The whole top half uses 3/4" plywood, about a half sheet. It got painted with outdoor paint first, then fluorescent orange to ensure it was easy to spot should it decide to go floating away. As it turns out the orange also attracted a lot of people to come over and ask about it, win!

The design is just a square on top of a circle! The sides have 45 degree cut ends to keep the lines nice and also to minimize rough surfaces. I glued and nailed the 4 sides together first and then mounted it to the circular surface. I used 2x4s that are cut in half and then screwed in from the bottom as corner braces. The sides are then screwed into the posts, and the top is too. Considering my lack of wood tools for setting the glue, screws and nails it came out very strong.

I knew I wanted to use a 5 gallon pail as a base for a few reasons:

  • To place the battery at the bottom to lower the center of gravity
  • To act as a dagger board to minimize tipping/tilt (Like a sailboat!)
  • To use as a stand on shore and in storage because it is less prone to dents than wood
  • The cost, weight, and fitment inside an inner tube.

Finally the implement tube. I didn't need anything too big for this little radio. I believe the inner diameter is 16" and the outside is about 24". It fits my needs very well. It is tied to the round base using poly rope, eyelets and some new knots I learned.

<p>I wanted to say I think your design is amazing. I have built a cooler for the last 3 years using a typical plastic cooler. For this years float I will be going with you design, I never thought about making a personal box. I already have all the equipment for the build but I do have a few questions.</p><p>Is their anyway I could get a top view of what the inside of your finished box looks like?</p><p>When said you screw the pail to the wood how did you do yours?</p><p>I want to do the same setup except not using the 4 6x9 or the header but I want to use 4-6 1/2 along with 2-6x9 and possible to 2-8&quot; subs but using a triangle design. Do you think I could get the same outcome mainly with the balancing the center of gravity?</p>
Hello! Thank you so much! For the bucket I cut a hole in the main horizontal board that was just bigger than the bucket below the flange. So when I dropped the bucket in it rested on the plastic flange. Then I just took some deck screws and put them in horizontally from the inside of the bucket. I used 3/4&quot; wood but for weight I would suggest 1/2&quot;. However with 1/2&quot; I would predrill the holes. <br><br>Doing a triangle on top shouldn't be a big deal but just<br>Make sure you get a big enough inner tube to support the extra weight. As for balancing you may have some difficulty organizing the speakers in a way that looks good, sounds good, and has balanced weight. I'll see if I can find a photo of it from the top down. Basically you would have seen the speaker basket from each side, the radio body below that, and then a battery at the bottom of the bucket.
And maybe a blue tooth and a water proof comp for my phone
<p>see your inbox shortly.</p>
Hey I want one would u make me one but upgraded to a mp3 and with a cd player please and how much would it cost including shipping I live in plato missouri 65552 call me at 208 830 6069 and leave me your name and number to return your call thanks
How light was it and do u think a car battery would work instead of a landowner battery
It ended up being not too light with everything in it. A car battery might last a little longer but the stereo battery I got lasted all day anyway, so why spend the extra and bear the extra weight? I used a kinetik HC600, not a lawn mower battery.
How do you access the battery to charge it?
<p>The top comes off with 4 screws. I just hit them with my cordless drill and I have access to all the electronics.</p>
<p>No action shots?</p>
<p>Didn't build waterproof storage into this guy, so I didn't take my phone with on the river. I'll work on it though.</p>
That's awesome
You should put a solar panel on top so you never worry about the battery going dead when out on the water!
<p>That's a great idea! I didn't even think about doing that. I may underestimate the power generated by new solar panels and write it off.</p>
This rocks. Great job on both your project and your instructable. I'm on the water a lot and I love what you've done here.
<p>Haven't done any river tubing for a looooong time. This makes me want to get out on the water really bad. Nice work.</p>

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Bio: I work as a pharmaceutical chemist to fund my hobbies which are: motorcycling, building stereos into things, installing car stereos, and going to live music ... More »
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