Instructables
Picture of Suitcase BoomBox
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The Suitcase Boombox is a vintage suitcase converted into a boombox, complete with two subwoofers and four tweeters.  The whole system is powered by two lead acid batteries hooked up to a charge controller, so the boombox can be charged via an AC/DC power supply or even a solar panel.  The mini amplifier delivers 25 watts of power per channel, giving the system a lot of volume, comparable to a car audio system.  You could definitely take this out to the park and start your own mini dance party or use it to play loud music in your room.  What I love most about this project is that no two suitcase boomboxes will ever look the same.  Depending on the type of suitcase you use and the size and configuration of your speaker setup, there is plenty of room to apply your own personal style to the project and make something truly unique.

Parts List:

(1x) Vintage Suitcase (I found mine on Etsy)
(2x) 12V/4Ah Sealed Lead Acid Battery Radioshack 55034004
(1x) Pioneer TS-D1720C 6.75" Component Speaker Package Radioshack 55032192
(1x) Pioneer TS-D1720C 5.25" Component Speaker Package Radioshack 55032190 (I ended up only using the tweeters from this package and saving the 5.25" speakers for another project.  You can also replace this part with any other 4Ohm tweeter.)
(1x) Sunforce 30-Amp Digital Charge Controller Radioshack 277-110
(1x) Topping TP20-MK2 MKII TA2020 Class T-AMP Digital Stereo Amplifier Amazon
(1x) 3-Ft. 1/8" Stereo to Dual Phono (RCA) Plug Y-cable Radioshack 42-494
(1x) 1/8" Stereo In-Line Audio Jack Radioshack 274-274
(1x) 1/8" Stereo Panel-Mount Audio Jack Radioshack 274-249
(1x) 3-Ft. 1/8" Stereo Plug Cable Radioshack 42-223
(1x) 50-Ft. 16-Gauge Clear 2-Conductor Speaker Wire Radioshack 278-1267 (you will only need about 15ft)
(1x) 22 Gauge stranded wire, multiple colors Radioshack 278-1224
(1x) black electrical tape Radioshack 64-2373
(1x) Size M Panel-mount Coaxial DC Power Jack Radioshack 274-1563
(1x) AC-DC 12V 1.5A Power Supply Radioshack 273-316
(1x) M type plug Radioshack 273-344
(1x) 3/16" battery terminal connectors Radioshack 64-3132

Additional Materials/Tools:

Wire Cutters/Strippers Radioshack 64-224
Rosin Core Solder Radioshack 64-009
Soldering Iron Radioshack 55027897
Razor Blade Cutting Tool (for cutting leather suitcase)
Power Drill
Dremel
Screws (be sure to get some that match the hardware on your suitcase)
Locknuts/nylon nuts (for areas of high vibration) and regular nuts
Small L-Brackets
Screwdriver
1/4" plywood - I needed this to add some structural support to my suitcase, if you use a hard clamshell case, you may not require any additional support.
scrap wood (for mounting charge controller)
marking pen
metal file
wire crimper Radioshack 64-225
 
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found the answer! 11.56 volts. I searched 12 volt battery chart.
wow sounds great! thanks for the instruc. im pretty much using the exact setup as the one you made. but what voltage is too low to recharge. or what number on the solar charger is a sign i should charge the batteries?
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Fanchetlolo7 months ago
Great great great ! I have started it but would like a different charging /power system. What would be your recommendation if I want to use a lithium batterie ? How did you come up with 4 Ah? The charger manual recommends 45 Ah ! Would you have a link or another instructable tokindda teach how to : calculate the batteries you need for the system you decide to setup and then how to choose the charging system accordingly? Many thanks for the help this is awesome!
amandaghassaei (author)  Fanchetlolo6 months ago

charging lithium batteries tends to be a little more complicated, but it is possible. Do you still want to stick with a solar setup?

Thanks for your answer !
I would like to charge it using the mains electricity.
I know that lithium batteries are a bit difficult to charge, and especially dangerous. That´s why i was considering lifepo4 batteries but am not happy about the charging device i could find so far.
Any idea advise would be more than welcome.
Again congrats for your suitcase, i love it...
amandaghassaei (author)  Fanchetlolo6 months ago

if you want to charge from a wall socket then you don't need to use a charge controller, just unplug the battery from the amplifier circuit and connect it to the charger that the battery manufacturer recommends for the lithium battery (you could even setup a switch to toggle between connecting to the amp and the charger). I picked two 4Ah batteries bc that was the most I could fit without getting too heavy, Lithium batteries are not as heavy though, so you might choose something that lasts even longer

Yes you're right, I will need a toggle switch while charging, it bring some complexity to my system to use now... I wonder now how most our device (laptops and so on) could still be used while charging.
Also, i saw a nice suitcase boombox that had a usb port for charging, which I love. Usb charger I have would deliver 5v 1A, so seems not compatible with a 12 v battery? Do you know a usb charger that could do the trick ?
Many thanks for your help again...

Laptops have built in charging circuits that senses when to switch. It is possible to find an IC that could possible do the same. I believe maxim makes such ICs. For that sake of simplicity I'm probably just gonna use a 3 way switch myself. Charge, OFF and AC. I'm also pretty sure you can find mini amps with usb charging ports.

gsie purpulhaze2 months ago

Thanks for your guide! I used it as inspiration to build a similar suitcase system and opted for a charging circuit from AccuSafe: http://store.accusafe.nl/modules/accu-bewaking

It's custom made for DIY soundsystems like this. It monitors the battery so it won't go under 11,5v (at which point the battery becomes lazy and won't recharge) and handles power switching duties. By building in a power supply and a charger the suitcase is self-contained and the AccuSafe circuit switches the amp to the power supply and the battery to the charger when I hook up the power.

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amandaghassaei (author)  Fanchetlolo6 months ago
if you use a different amp (that only requires 5V) you could run the whole system off 5V batteries and charge via usb. I'd imagine that charging via usb will take longer than charging through the wall socket.
Actually i would like to add a bluetooth receiver as well... :)
amandaghassaei (author)  Fanchetlolo6 months ago

there are plenty of bluetooth receivers that you could hook up to this setup, best choice would probably be something you could wire up to the suitcase power supply, so you don't have to worry about charging it separately.

hi ive almost all the parts to make my suitcase boombox. is the power adapter 1000 ma = to 1 A? if so you said 1.5 A adapter and your link to radioshack specifies 1A or 1000ma. im new to electronix and am wondering if i could go higher or just get to the charger on the link. HELP SOS = save our suitcase
purpulhaze3 months ago

I love this project. I'm thinking about making as a gift for my mother. The only thing I was thinking about changing was possibly making it a bit smaller and using lithium charger and batteries. Pretty sure it should make the case lighter and also get more charges.

amandaghassaei (author)  purpulhaze2 months ago
yeah i'd recommend the lithium batteries, my batteries are a bit heavy
EricWe4 months ago

Hi there Amanda!

This is awesome. What would you suggest if I wanted to forgo the solar and simply use a 12v battery and wire it directly to a small amp? I saw a Lepai 2020+ that seems to makes sense. It seems that then to charge it i wouldn't want to open the suitcase so could i just also have wires hooked up to the battery to a jack that i could plug in the charger from outside the suitcase. If I did this does there need to be a toggle switch or can the battery just be hooked up to both at the same time, and take a charge when i plug in the charger to the wall, and run the amp at the same time if needed?

Thanks here. Again this is awesome!

amandaghassaei (author)  EricWe4 months ago

yeah I think that would work. To be safe I'd say you would want to switch between the charger and the amp. But you could plug in the amp's original power supply at the same time, and just switch to that power while you're sharing so that you never have to turn it off completely, does that make sense?

bmahana5 months ago

I was using the charge controller with charging from the wall and it seems to have drained the batteries and now they won't charge. Any suggestions on a how to wire if i just want a wall charge or any suggestions on an appropriate solar charging unit?

amandaghassaei (author)  bmahana4 months ago

hmm... google/amazon for lead acid battery charger - you can hook that straight up to the batteries to charge. Once you get the batteries drained low enough, you won't be able to charge them with the charge controller. If you just want to use the system indoors, I'd recommend wiring up the amplifier's original power supply.

quackelteki5 months ago
safety first guys, imho this device has the capability to inflame your house, is there some kind of temperature control?
bmahana made it!5 months ago

First off, THANK YOU for the step by step, I wouldn't have been able to execute this without the detailed guide. I finished last night and sounds amazing. The only question I have - Step 28 - are the red and black wires that are soldered to the external audio jack both 22 gauge wires? One for positive, one for negative? I didn't want to assume and just start wiring away.

boombox.jpg
amandaghassaei (author)  bmahana5 months ago

looks great! yes I just used 22 gauge for this, you could use speaker wire too if you have extra left over. There are three connections: two red wires (one for each channel +) and one black ground wire.

Thanks for the response, I just have red, so I'll just have to use that for the two channels and for the ground, and just mark the one that is the ground with a sharpie so I don't get confused.

amandaghassaei (author)  bmahana5 months ago

that works too :)

nerd74736 months ago

This looks like a simple but complex build nice job

nerd

nerd7473 nerd74736 months ago

calling myself nerd not you

efahrenholz8 months ago
I love the idea, but I think a 30 amp charge controller is going to kill those batteries.
amandaghassaei (author)  efahrenholz6 months ago

I admit it's overkill (already had it around) but I don't think it will hurt the batteries

triumphman8 months ago
Nice, but I want to listen to the OUTDOORS!
devangs38 months ago
Give her a cookie! I made a boombox in an SMPS, but now I think this suitcase is better!
italzboi8 months ago
This is truly awesome. The amount if time, effort and care that went into this project really shows. And I really want to make one lol
tekaka8 months ago
beautifulll. been thinking about portable sound for a couple of years, wonder after a walk with a suitcase. Seems verry accomplished, your design, above my grasp actualy. Thank you for realising it.
Built a unit similar to this for a busker,years ago, minus the solar stuff. It worked great & flew around the world many times.Might still be out there somewhere. Great job on comstruction & Instructable !! CHEERS!!
thirst4know8 months ago
Hello everyone check out back up batteries for emergency lights or alarm systems for comparable batteries @ way less cost than RS. I got 12v 5amp hour for $8 plus $4 delivery.
tcreedy8 months ago
How long do the batteries last for? What's the aprox weight of the finished case? Great project :)
amandaghassaei (author)  tcreedy8 months ago
as for weight - it's a little heavier than I was hoping, you can't carry it around for too long without your arm getting tired. This is a pretty big case though, if you had smaller drivers and batteries (or li-po batteries) you could definitely make something more portable.
amandaghassaei (author)  tcreedy8 months ago
at least 8 hrs, I haven't run it without the solar panel attached to measure this properly. It lasted a week and a lot of play time with a few hrs of charging per day from a small solar panel.
steelnstones8 months ago
wonderful instructable! would it be easy to replace the acid batteries with lithium or is that just overkill?
amandaghassaei (author)  steelnstones8 months ago
i think that's a great idea if you want to carry it around a lot, lithium batteries would cut down on weight.
Nemesis2010778 months ago
Great write up.
I've been looking at making something similar following a recent camping trip. I have quite a few 6v SLA's from fire alarms and UPS's and am going to cram them into a box and add speakers, maybe a car stereo, usb sockets for charging phones and lugs so it can be used to jump a car with a flat battery.
I've got a nice looking DJ case in mind, but your retro look's got me thinking.
How's the sound quality? as the speakers aren't separated by their own enclosure I was wondering if that might be a consideration?
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