Introduction: Simple IPod Amp

Picture of Simple IPod Amp

I wanted a simple iPod amp for my garage. You need listen to something when you are working on your bike right?

I only had one extra stereo speaker, so I only made it mono. If you have two speakers, just make this twice and you have a stereo amp.

The name of the game here is simple, but feel free to make it more complicated and nicer if you feeling the urge.

I also included steps on how to fit this in a army surplus case and make it a portable amp for your ipod.
UPDATE: I have kits
I have been asked for parts and where to get them a lot since I posted this. If anyone is interested I have kits now with everything you need to build this for $50 + $5 shipping.

Send me a PM with your email address if you are interested.


Step 1: Parts

Picture of Parts

-Radio Shack Phono(RCA) Jack 274-346 $3.99
-4 small nuts and bolts.
-Radio Shack DC Power Jack - 274-1576 $2.59
-Any old 8-12V wall wart that fits the power jack. $Free
-Radio Shack project box 270-283 $3.99 .
-Velleman 7W Mono Amp K4001 $10.00

If you make the portable model
-2 9V snap connectors 270-324
-2 9v batteries $5.00
-Power switch 275-612 $2.99
-470 ohm resistor
-Army Surplus box ??? I used a signal light box.
-Old computer speaker
-Old earphones or some old 1/8" stereo jack headphone jack.
-Piece of screen
-4 nuts and bolts

Soldering Iron
Tin Nibbler
Screw drivers
Wire strippers
Needle Nose Pliers

Step 2: Assemble the Amp.

Picture of Assemble the Amp.

Assemble this Amplifier kit and make sure it works. The kit comes with instructions but the PDF is available on the Velleman website If the idea of soldering the kit up is a little intimidating they also sell the kit assembled for $1.00 more.

Step 3: Put It in the Box.

Picture of Put It in the Box.

If you are going to make this a portable model, skip ahead to step 3.
Line up the power jack, rca connector and two nuts on one side of the project box. Make sure there is room and mark the locations. Start by putting in the power connector. Drill a hole for it with the your drill and a 1/.4” bit. Then move on to the RCA connector and do the same.
Now you will drill holes for your speaker jacks. They are just your bolts and two nuts.

Step 4:

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You are almost done now. I remove the posts on the velleman kit and use just standard solid 22awg wire. I use 2inch pieces so I can have room to solder the connectors on the project box later. For the connectors you are putting in, I like to solder 2inch leads on them before I fix them in the box. Drill a hole in the top of the box to replace the heatsink the kit comes with.

Step 5: Done If Not Moving...

Picture of Done If Not Moving...

Turn it on, you finished. If you want you could add a power switch and an LED to show it is on. If you use an LED, make sure to use a resistor (470 should be good but 1000 will work too).

Step 6: Going Mobile

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If you want to make a portable version...
Survey your army box and see what you have to work with. Mine included a lamp, which worked! Putting that aside for another project.

Step 7:

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Take your speaker apart. I was going to make it stereo with two amps, but I did not have the room in the box with these speakers.
Mark the mounting holes for your speakers.

Step 8:

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Now you need to cut out a hole for the speaker. I found a round cap that was the same size as the speaker and traced it out

Step 9:

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I used a nibbing tool to cut out the circle from the metal lid. First drll a hole then poke the bibber through and go to town.
File or dremel the the hole to make it smooth when you are done.

Step 10:

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Cut out a piece of cheep screen to cover the speaker. Admittedly this is really just for looks.

Step 11:

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Attach the speaker with your four nuts and bolts.

Step 12:

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Drill a small hole on the left side of the box to attach the amp to. This giant metal box is going to take the place of the heatsink the amp kit came with.

Step 13:

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Attach the amp, it's a good idea to cover the bottom of the amp with tape to keep from shorting out on the metal box .

Step 14:

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Hook everything up with alligator clips and make sure it works, if you did this earlier then you can skip this step.

Step 15:

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I lined the box with some foam I had around the house.
To run this off of batteries solder two 9v battery connectors together, solder the black to the negative on the amp, and the positive straight positive on the amp, I wanted to make this run off of batteries or a wall wart, so I also added a switch and a dc power jack

Step 16:

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Solder the speaker wires to the amp where it is marked LS.
I cut apart an old pair of headphones and used the cord to connect it to the amp. Cut the cord and tie the white and red cable to the red cable marked IN on the amp. Solder the negative cable to the negative and your are finished.


takboilaw (author)2011-09-25

This is not much of a help I want to build an amplifier from the scratch meannig not from a discarded or pre existing computer amplifier from a desktop nor laptop speaker system.

This is much more of putting together all working pieces muck more like a jigsaw puzzle.

Its is much better if there was an schematics like a stereo amplfier with sub woofer output power by DC 12 volts that has an ouput of 200w per channel.

Kryptonite (author)takboilaw2012-02-08

It's easy to make an amplifier circuit.

MrF_DT_teacher (author)2011-08-03

If anyone is interested, if you google the TBA820M power amp IC, its a great sounding little amp circuit and the test/application circuit is included in the data sheet all you do is change one value of resistor for the gain, I use it in my school and each circuit works out a lot less than $10, just means you need to be handy with making you own PCBs or vero/strip boarding. Also it runs well off a 9V battery

tonybowles (author)2011-02-01

I like this iPod amp. This is what real hobbyists / enthusiasts are made off!
I used to like tinkering around with electronics and making various devices.


Rahul16 (author)2010-12-26

can u please provide me the amplifier circuit diagram with exact component listed....

joe (author)Rahul162010-12-26

Hey Rahul - The amplifier kit from Velleman includes the instructions and all needed parts are included for the amplifier circuit.


ShadowAssassin (author)2010-12-23

you could've just cut out the seperators you know :P

joe (author)2008-03-26

I Have Kits!

I have been asked for parts and where to get them a lot since I posted this. If anyone is interested I have kits now with everything you need to build this for $60 + shipping.

Send me a PM with your email address if you are interested.


epicelite (author)joe2010-11-21

Where did you find that box!? I want one! D:

sqeeek (author)2010-11-11

Lol I've put pencils and screwdrivers through my speakers more than once. A little bit of screen isn't a bad idea.

tinstructable (author)2009-07-15

I haven't learned much about electronics, but this makes your ipod or mp3 player be able to "power" a large speaker? I tried once connecting my iPod to a small radio speaker I salvaged, but the sound was really quiet. This would theoretically make it louder? Thanks

xAxrules (author)tinstructable2009-07-30

Yes, by the looks of this amp it should be VERY loud, running off two 9v. If you're looking to do something less complicated, you can salvage and old personal radio into an amp, but some components may require changing (resistors) otherwise it will be very distorted, plus it only uses 3v instead of 18v.

sqeeek (author)xAxrules2010-11-11

I've made some out of old computer speakers before. Many of them will run off of 9v/12v. Or you can keep the original plug and just plug them in.

I've found that many computer speakers can be greatly improved by putting them in a good box :)

Ganoderma (author)tinstructable2010-11-11

Your mp3 player doesn't power the speakers, the 2 9V batteries power it ;)

The very quiet bit is still there, but it's amplified using the batteries (doesn't drain your ipod, big plus also :P)

foxtrot4697 (author)2010-02-09

Hawt Case

RedFilter (author)2009-03-20

I am about to start this project for my Zune using a dry box and a marine speaker for canoeing, but the one thing I am tring to figure out is if the speaker magnet will wipe out my Zunes hard drive. Anyone?

xAxrules (author)RedFilter2009-07-30

If it uses a hard drive instead of flash memory, more than likely, you want to keep as much distance between the zune and speaker as possible, between 10 and 20 cm should be fine.

gabi1988 (author)2009-03-29

hi, i want to build a small amp like this but i want to know if i would be able to plug my guitar into it!? it has an output jack for an electric guitar right.

franzwa (author)2008-10-06

I want to built a system like this but louder. Can you help me?

Xellers (author)franzwa2008-10-10

vacuum tube amp!

pyro-jim (author)2008-06-20

sorry the bottom pin was supposed to be two spaces along so that it went just below the gap

pyro-jim (author)2008-06-20

hi, great instructable, i was just wondering I have an amp that I made in a resistant materials class at school and I wanted to make it a stereo amp. How do I split the channels? I believe it is using the jack connecter but if so then which pins do I use? On the PCB they go. || || |

dbtahoe (author)2006-05-04

I am interested in this concept for speakers on my boat. I would love to know if you think it has enough power to be heard over the engine. Thanks, Doug

joe (author)dbtahoe2006-05-22

Doug, well it without a doubt loud! And on the boat I guess you have 12v so you power as many of them as you want. Go for it, Velleman also sells a 25W stereo amp that you might want to check out, that way you could enjoy the stereophonic sound while you are in your boat. -Joe

Derin (author)joe2008-02-09

will it work with 2 amp circuits in series to add onto the power?

electrian12 (author)Derin2008-06-02

yea. thats what i did

billytwix (author)dbtahoe2008-03-03

i doubt this has enough power. it would be great when the engine is off however and it looks friggin awesome! i've got 2x 250w speakers on my tower and i can barely make out what's being played when i ride, they are long throw woofers, and they are on BLAST. forget about hearing the low range of music regardless of how loud it is, it all blends in with with the vibrations of the motor and the water. good luck with your boat!

electrian12 (author)2008-06-02

This is awesome, but where do you get that army surplus box?!?!? But good job though

TKEdwin582 (author)2008-05-27

This is pretty dang nifty. I'd make one, but I've never been good at technical-stuff... LoL.

nuffun1440 (author)2008-05-18

How many watts is the speaker? great instructable, this has really inspired me to try something

=SMART= (author)2008-04-26

wow brilliant look! rough and tough!

tecno geek (author)2008-04-17

confusing, but i like it. good job!

alexhalford (author)2008-03-07

This may sound like a stupid question but could someone please explain to me how an amp works. i.e. why couldn't you just have a variable transformer (as the power supply) and the input signal controlling a transistor??? Any help appreciated.

Wolfpack871 (author)2007-12-04

What all do they sell in army surplus stores? I've never been to one. That box is pretty sweet though.

Yerboogieman (author)Wolfpack8712008-02-07

alot like the foxhole army place in puyallup

bdu's flak jackets, old guns, military helmets, gas masks, and much more

Brennn10 (author)2007-11-09

Awesome use of another kit to make this. It makes it 10X easier for everyone, so that they dont actually have to make the PCB. Good Work.

zman123 (author)2006-10-04

can you hook a guitar up to it ???????????? ? 00 ~

firemanfu (author)zman1232007-10-14

my guitar hook up is a adapter to a rca conecter wired straight to my stereo, im to cheap to buy an amp

exabopper (author)2007-09-16

This is very clever - I bought a set of amplified speakers at a clearance store for about $10, and I have an old army first-aid box - I'm going to use them, along with my jigsaw (with a hacksaw blade) to make this project soon.

That said, I hate to tell you this, but your idea has a problem. The amp you are using is mono, and you say that you have attached both channels from the iPod into the one input connector on the amp.

Imagine this - you are listening to a tune on the iPod, and that tune for whatever reason is only on one channel, either left or right (Pink Floyd does this sometimes, so that it seems like the music is coming from the right, then the left, etc). This means that there is high voltage on one channel, and zero volts on the other. When you connect high voltage to zero voltage, that is called a SHORT CIRCUIT - the left channel is shorting to the right or vice versa, and it stresses the circuit. In general, you should NEVER attach two outputs together without some circuitry in between, or you may see fireworks in the future.

The iPod is probably designed to handle some shorts, but if I were you, I'd put resistors in series with each individual channel , and then a resistor between the amp's input and neutral. This is called an isolation pad, and it protects the iPod's outputs. I'd use maybe 2.2Kohms for each of the three resistors (you should experiment with this on a breadboard - you may not need the resistor between input and ground depending on the amp's impedance). Granted, it will attenuate the signal, so it will sound softer, but if you have a good strong amp, just crank it a little more. At least then the iPod will be protected.

Once again, hell of a good idea for iPod use in rough conditions. You could even waterproof that that thing!

antennas (author)exabopper2007-10-10

You will NOT have the short circuit you described. Each channel will still have a load but it will be bit lower since you have both channels running into it. Due to the circuit impedance, that's where it will load it a bit. Where you go bad is when you use a mono connector in a stereo jack, then one channel DOES get shorted to ground and that's a no load condition and will ruin one channel. The amp should have a fairly high Z input and should be OK. Sorry ...but exabopper is off base here.

PR22 (author)2007-07-05

I was interested in learning how to make the amplifier. Apparently you used a kit. Anyone have a good resource on how to make a amp from scratch?

Biotele (author)PR222007-08-26

you can learn by reverse engineering

jongscx (author)PR222007-07-11

find an old component reciever or stereo... they usually have pre-amps that you can harvest. these usually run on 12V or 9V, so it's easy to find a psu

PCvsMac (author)jongscx2007-07-19

Hello, Jongscx I read your question with delight, but I could not understand it. From what I can read do you mean to the speakers that you connect to a computer? (Also, anybody who has come up with a brilliant idea on how to make a guitar amplifier cheaply and simply, please do reply.) I do have this therory on how to make an amp out of some PC speakers. I might post as soon as I have done it.

jongscx (author)PCvsMac2007-07-19

I don't think this is the kind of "amp" you're looking for. This is basically an i-pod speaker. It takes the audio input from the I-pod and pushes that through the speakers. The difference between this and a guitar I believe is that the guitar is essentially "powered" by the amp. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that a guitar amp actually pushes current through the guitar. This just takes the signal and amplifies it, makes it loud enough to be heard. If you could find some way of having the guitar be powered, you could definitely connect this amp or even computer speakers and hear it through that. Anyone know the nominal voltage/current that's needed for guitars?

PCvsMac (author)jongscx2007-07-28

"When you say guitar been powered" , do you mean the amplfier built in an electric guitar? I confused.

jongscx (author)PCvsMac2007-07-29

Not necessarily. Here is an explanation on how an electric guitar's pickup works:

What I mean is that there needs to be at least a little current running through the pickup... How much, I'm not really sure. So not exactly an amplifier, but I guess a pre-amp so that your transmitter has enough of a signal to be able to send to the reciever... Kinda Like:

guitar plug ---> pre-amp (May be built into transmitter) -->transmitter [radio waves or IR]~> Reciever--->Speaker driver/recorder/whatever

jongscx (author)jongscx2007-07-29

whoops... the [radio waves or IR] was supposed to be ( "radio waves or IR" )

bduffman (author)2007-07-14

i saw this this morning and looked around the house and found old computer speakers riped them apart and took the chip out ( had a premade box from school wood work ) cut hole in top placed speaker in top drill holes for the volume control and on off butten and pulled apart a torch and got the rechargeable 9volt batary wired the batary to the chip and done have my self a portable speaker box

About This Instructable




Bio: I like to tinker with just about anything, sometimes it works out in the end. Have fun looking at the projects, try tearing something open ... More »
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