Picture of Waterproof Solar Powered Boom Box
box step one2.jpg
This is a go anywhere, power anything, music blasting stereo that will keep the party rocking even in the pouring rain.  Housed inside a waterproof, crushproof, kittenproof enclosure, this stereo uses a water resistant marine head unit, and water resistant marine component speakers.  It's powered by an 18Ahr SLA battery that can be recharged from an on-board, fold out solar panel for backcountry use, as well as household AC current while you're back in civilization between adventures.  With easy access to 12V power through a cigarette lighter barrel plug and binding posts, there's virtually no limit to the kinds of accessories that it can power or recharge.  

The inspiration for this project came from spending long periods of time in the wilderness without any connection to civilization.  Having a mobile power station, that can withstand the elements is incredibly useful when it comes to recharging satellite phone batteries, camera batteries, cell phones, and headlamps.  Having it due double duty as a boom box is an added bonus since after many days in the quiet of the wilderness, being able to play few tunes can really help to remind you that you're a human and not some kind of Gore-Tex coated bigfoot wandering the rivers of the west, not that there's anything wrong with that... 

Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up
1-40 of 44Next »

Any understand how the power is hooked up? I can see the acid charger and AC/DC cord are plugged into the extension cord and then the extension chord goes through the top but where does the other side of the AC DC cord go?

Errol195125 days ago

I have seen small bluetooth players with usb TF card and FM radio for $10 on ebay wouldn't they draw less power and take up less room

Mason_Ernie3 months ago

Did anyone ever get clarification on the wiring of the dpdt switch? I can't figure it out.

Jan_Henrik4 months ago

Very cool, nice design!!!

tbasinger1 year ago
Very nice! I am about to start making this myself! I did have a couple of questions, first how long does the battery last when playing music only (lets assume you are using an iPhone for music). Second how long does it take to charge the battery via the solar panel assuming it is a sunny summers day in direct sunlight for most of the day.
noahw (author)  tbasinger1 year ago
The battery is an 18Ahr battery and the stereo draws between .5 and 1.5 amps depending on the volume and whether or not it's charging the ipod. That means it will play for between 9 and 36 hours depending on the conditions. This is a calculated value and I imagine actual real word run times could be less. The max I was able to get from the solar panel was 13.5V and .75A in direct sun, so it will take multiple days of sun to fully recharge the battery from exhaustion.
713900MIKE noahw7 months ago

What about recharging as being used? Maybe the sun can maintain battery charge as play happens..?

713900MIKE7 months ago

This is really awesome. And looks to be quite expensive.. Thx, but most of us can't afford one. But I'll sure enjoy yours with you... Haa

billypip1 year ago
Seriously give me some contact information I will buy one right now no lie
tutdude981 year ago
How can you run this CFL light? did you buy some converter or what?
ashman19221 year ago
I love this idea! I stumbled across it while searching for a radio to use outdoors or in the shop that not only would pull in distant stations (apparently the only ones I try to listen to) but also be able to use an MP3 player with Wifi or cell phone with WiFi or satellite or....this adds a lot of options! Another idea would be to use one of the video capable car radios to add DVD capability. Again--very customizable!
It seems you could do even more if you were motivated to do so--perhaps add jumper cables so it could also boost low car batteries! I say that because be cause I am eyeing an old battery booster as the battery for my project. Perhaps I could also scavenge the AC charger from it as well.
Well done!
Beautiful instruct-able and build quality. (The only critique I have is that the epoxied panel supports may not hold. I love epoxy bunches, but the plastic gives a bit where as generic epoxy does not.) But enough on that! A beautiful instruct able and idea!

I was just wondering, why use the switch for the solar controller. Why not make it passive, and simply use a diode? Unless there is an underlying reason I don't see. (My best guess is simply because you didn't want to lose the ~.5V*.75A = .375 Watts).
a rigger1 year ago
So, it's been about a year now. How are those [epoxied] panel supports holding up?
noahw (author)  a rigger1 year ago
Hah - you made me chuckle. They fell off in 2 weeks time. I've got bolts with lock nuts now that are drilled through the case and sealed with silicone holding up the top panel now. Thanks for keeping me real!
DayBowBow1 year ago
Can you please make a diagram explain your DPDT switch better? Which I read it you seem to have too many things hooked to it.
This is how I am seeing it
There are six connections on a DPDT switch.
The Top two is your solar circuit which is powered by the the solar cell
The middle two goes to your stereo.
And the bottom two is your ac/dc converter and your wall charger?

I am most confused about how your battery charger and your ac/dc is hooked up.
Josh50911 year ago
Could you please provide a wiring diagram or more detail regarding how the DPDT switch is wired.? Also, could you explain how the AC DC power supply connects to the DPDT switch?
In the old days before CD's a cassette radio used the same amps as portable or car stereo so that for such a project the thing would play for months at reasonable volume without recharge. It drew only 20 mA on radio and 50 mA on cassette with the volume down Now to find a CD player that only consume this power........................???
Josh50911 year ago
Would someone be able to provide further detail regarding how the 8v AC DC power supply connects? Was the opposite end of the AC plug cut? I couldnt quite make this out from the writing or pictures. Otherwise, this project has superb details. I have ordered all the parts, which should be here on Tuesday. Any advice would be appreciated.
Ncthomps1 year ago
Can someone explain the wiring for the DPDT switch? I'm no electrician and just a newbie to wiring. I understand how the current is suppose to flow but can't figure out the schematics to make this work.
tbasinger1 year ago
ok one more question..well for now..I am a bit confused about the wiring for the switch and the process to go from AC to DC power could you elaborate a bit more or do you happen to have a wiring diagram?
paintphone1 year ago
Looks great, Nice Instructable
Erind2 years ago
You do not need marine speakers. The only difference between standard speakers and marine speakers is not the cone, but the contacts in the back and the wires connecting them. They're protected from the elements. The cones on standard speakers are already waterproof. This can save a couple bucks while maintaining excellent quality.
hey can you pls send me a Schematic my id is
a rigger2 years ago
HEY! This looks familiar... :) Nice work!
I recently posted a much more ghetto version of a very similar project. [It's up there in the related projects column] I like the fact that you used quality components, though, as some of mine don't seem to work. I'm replacing various components as time goes along. [I'm also a little jealous that more people have commented on yours than on mine.]
You also do a far better job of making the electrical side work. I could stand to do some homework...
As for the control panel attachment, I made the top and bottom into a single carriage. That way you can friction mount the whole thing and it all stays put... Relatively speaking. This is also handy in that, since this is essentially a 'sealed' enclosure, I can, in good weather, lift the panel just enough to create a 'vent' and enjoy a significant bump in fidelity from the speakers.
There is one part I would like to implement though, Does your Pelli. have a pressure release valve? I live at about 300' above sea level, traveling over the mountain pass to the river makes me a little nervous that I'll either implode or explode my speakers one way or the other. Hoping to find something I can mount to my steel can.
I have two critiques. One is cost. You get what you pay for though. The other is the sideways firing of the speakers. I like to point the music at the listener/s, if only for the sake of efficiency, but some neighbors may be less interested in the music you have to play. Keep it up!
windbag2 years ago
Pretty cool. I also tallied up the cost and it came in over $1100.00! Quite prohibitive for a tinker like my self. This just goes to further support the idea that solar power/science is not a cheap alternative. Great science here may be able to use it in some other application.
You can find most of this stuff at a second hand store such as Goodwill (if your in the states)
hamsammy2 years ago
Looks great! Makes me want to turn my tool box for car stereos into one. I feel your pain on the cost. I spent about $300 on a desktop stereo out of an old Mac G4 and that was so much more simple. Keep up the good work!!
ksqrd2 years ago
What a great write up, and an awesome project.

I would love to have one of these for camping and just hanging out in the backyard.

I might have missed it, did you mention how much it cost to build?

Great Job, thanks for sharing!!!
EvilRSA ksqrd2 years ago
just adding all the RadioShack numbers to a cart and adding cost in for the Pelican case, Kenwood Radio, I'm already up to $916.63; without tax or shipping.
EvilRSA2 years ago
Whoa, did you knock over a Radio Shack?? The shopping list alone is over $1,000! Do / did you work at a shack and get a hell of a discount, or did you just keep getting parts a little at a time?
SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
irishmail2 years ago
Substitute this for the discontinued Kenwood>> Lepai LP-S60 four channel car stereo. Advanced features include: FM receiver, MP3 decoding with USB and SD/MMC card inputs, an IR remote control, and an antenna. Trim ring included for flush mounting.
4 channels, half the power consumption AND half the weight
tinker0002 years ago
Are you not going to use the radio part? I found in hooking up car stereos the Antenna needs to be attached or else nothing but static. How about installing a longer jack for it and attaching a collapsible antenna if you want to listen to the radio?
Author noahw wrote, "... wandering the rivers of the west ...". If that's the western U.S., there's often nothing to receive — with or without an antenna. You'll get no FM day or night, and AM may only come in as fading ionospheric "skip" signals during the night from stations that are hundreds of miles away.  The only thing that would be reliable in most cases is satellite radio, such as Sirius, and even that may not work well in canyons.
noahw (author)  pcooper22 years ago
This boom box is not only for use on the river though...
noahw (author)  tinker0002 years ago
Excellent catch. I've been wrestling with an antenna for the box for some time. At first I wanted to get a telescoping antenna that was the standard 30" long that could slide down and collapse within the box, but most of what I found locally were powered antenna units and expensive - overkill. I've found a rubber "whip style" shorter antenna that fits inside the box, that could be mounted on the underside of the control panel and was planning on using that. I just wasn't able to make it all happen fast enough and really wanted to get this project published. But, I will surely add in an antenna on this unit. If not necessarily to listen to the radio for music, since they don't always play what I'm into, but for safety so that in the event of an emergency, I'd have a sustainable source of information for broadcasts etc...

Thanks for your comment and ideas!
pcooper22 years ago
The method of securing the front panel looks dubious. I'd expect the wood blocks that were attached to the plastic Pelican case with epoxy to break loose on the first or second outing if one has to traverse a few miles of unpaved, washboard road with potholes. Pelican uses polypropylene for their cases, a plastic that is notoriously poor for gluing. Since you've already broken the integrity of the case by cutting speaker holes into it, I'd consider fabricating aluminum brackets and riveting or screwing them to the inside of the case about 3/4 inch below the lip, then using several machine screws with decorative panel washers to secure the panel. That would allow removal for service, too.

It appears RadioShack no longer offers the Kenwood KMR-440U marine radio, or any marine radio, for that matter.
noahw (author)  pcooper22 years ago
This is an excellent suggestion - I will most likely have to make this improvement since one of the support blocks that I epoxied to the wall of the pelican case has already come off and needed to be re-glued. I thought about using some nice gnarled brass thumb screws to secure it to the more permanent bracket next time. Drill and tap the bracket, screw in the thumb screw from above, and presto. Thanks for the tip!
I have an old briefcase/camera case that my grandfather brought from Hungary in the 50's that I plan on making into something just like this. I plan on having a small car audio amplifier to run both the speaker inside the box and also be able to power other speakers via terminal jacks. I plan on using one of these to run everything:
ivanjacob2 years ago
whats the weight?
and how much did it cost??
im planning on doing something simular like this.
awsome instructable
1-40 of 44Next »