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.

About This Instructable


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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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