Introduction: Waterproof Speaker for Better Shower Singing

If you are like me--and I know you are--you LOVE to sing in the shower and you SUCK at it!  There's nothing I can do about having a terrible singing voice, but the thing that really bugs me, and probably everyone else within range of my voice, is that I can never remember the words to the songs.  I keep repeating about a line and a half from the chorus and then accidentally end up singing an entirely different song altogether. 

I've occasionally brought a set of computer speakers into the bathroom with me and plugged my mp3 player into them.  While this is nice, it's a pain in the behind and I'm always nervous about splashing them and shorting something out. 

I decided what was needed was a waterproof enclosure for the speakers and the mp3 player.  I actually built this project as a Christmas gift for my girlfriend, as she loves singing in the shower even more than I do and is actually good at it.  I did my best to make this look nice and professional, rather than my usual cobbled together mess of wires and circuit boards.

Just a quick warning, I don't know how waterproof this really is.  I suspect it'll be safe to splash it every now and then, but I wouldn't recommend actually using it IN the shower.  Nearby should be good enough.

Here's a little youtube video I cooked up for this instructable.  Some of the shots are pretty dark, but I think I've figured out how to avoid that in the future.  On the plus side, It does have me singing in the shower!




***UPDATE 5/5/10:  If you build your own set of waterproof speaks, post some pictures in the comments and I'll send you a patch!***

Step 1: Gather Materials

This instructable requires two major components plus a few miscellaneous bits and pieces.

Major Parts:
  • 1 pair of 9 volt computer speakers (from your local thrift store)
  • 1 waterproof container that opens easily (I used a pantry storage bin from Fred Meyers)
Bits and Pieces:
  • 1 power button of some sort (mine was harvested from an old printer)
  • 1 pair of disposable rubber gloves ***dustinbikes suggests using nitrile gloves, as they don't deteriorate from chemicals as badly, and are more resistant to ripping.  I suspect this would be a good way to go!
  • A small amount of light fabric
  • 1 9 volt battery clip
  • Epoxy
  • Silicone sealant
  • Solder
  • Hot Glue
  • Wire or plastic mesh
  • Some plastic to use as a frame
  • About 3" of 5/16 or 1/4" dowel
  • Electrical tape
  • Spray paint
Tools:
  • Drill
  • Glass/tile boring bits
  • Soldering Iron
  • Hot glue gun
  • Dremil tool
  • Hand saw
  • Permanent marker
  • Hobby knife
  • Scissors (very sharp!)
Get everything together and move on to the next step!

Step 2: Prep the Speakers

No pictures of the process of disassembling the speakers, as I already had mine taken apart when I started.  It's simply a matter of taking everything out of the speaker case without breaking anything.  Save the volume knobs!

After that, replace the wall wart power adapter with a nine volt battery clip.  Remember to check the polarity.

With the speakers I had, at this point I also moved an oversized capacitor from the top of the board to the bottom, and replaced the dim green LED with a nice bright blue one, which I arranged to point up where the power button would be.  I used a semitransparent rubber button, so when it's on the button glows blue.  It looks quite nice!

Step 3: Cut Out the Speaker Holes

Figure out where you want the speakers positioned, then tack them in place with hot glue.  With a permanent marker, trace out the spots where the speakers will go. 

Next, use a hobby knife to score a line where you will be cutting--I find this helps to guide the dremel.  Using whatever bit you like, cut out the holes with your dremel.  I used one of the green rock looking bits.  I'm sure it's not designed for doing this to plastics, but hey, it worked!

Clean up the holes so you don't have a bunch of frayed plastic hanging out, and you're done with this step.

Step 4: Seal the Holes and Install the Speakers

You'll want some sort of waterproof membrane over these holes, so nothing drips inside.  I used a disposable rubber glove, as it was both thin and waterproof.  Using a very sharp pair of scissors, cut part of the glove in the shape of the two holes and epoxy it from the inside.  I would have used hot glue, but I was concerned about melting the rubber.  After the epoxy hardens, seal up the edges with some black silicone sealant.

The last picture below is me testing to make sure it was actually sealed.

Step 5: Drill the Control Holes

Position the circuit board where you'd like it to be and mark off where you'll have to make holes for the control knobs and power button.  Use your glass and tile boring bits for this, and make sure everything will fit nicely.  For my project, I had to make sure the knob holes were just big enough that the knobs would turn freely, and for the switch I had to make sure a hot glue stick would fit through smoothly--more on that later.

Step 6: Seal the Control Knob Holes

Your version of this may be different, but for mine I knew the power button could be sealed from the outside, but the "Volume" and "Tone" knobs would need to be sealed somehow, but still turn.  I didn't feel up to rigging some sort of o-ring or gasket system, so I took the easy way out, which may or may not actually hold up in the long run. 

I cut the tips off of two fingers of the rubber gloves and sealed them over holes from the inside.  Once the circuit board is installed, the plastic knobs will fit over the potentiometer knobs with the rubber still in between them.  I left enough rubber so that it would be loose and still turn.  See the pictures below if that was confusing!

If anyone out there has a better idea of how to accomplish this, let me know.  This was the best I could come up with, with just a couple of days left before Christmas.

Step 7: Install the Circuit Board

As discussed in the last step, the "Volume" and "Tone" knobs connect to the circuit board from the outside.  With the rubber gloves in place, this is actually a very tight fit.  Once installed, the circuit board pretty much stays in place. 

With my trusty E-6000 epoxy in hand, I glued one side of the board to the wall of the container, and also cut out a couple of dowel struts to support the other side of the board (see pics below).  Your own project may not be quite the same, but I recommend securing the circuit board firmly in place.

The power switch on the circuit board is the push in click in, push in click out type.  The semitransparent rubber button I harvested from an old printer was hollow, and it fit a mini sized glue stick perfectly.  I cut the gluestick to just the right length to operate the board switch and epoxied the button onto the outside, further sealing it with some silicone.

At this point I also taped off the outside of the power button in preparation for the next step.

Step 8: Paint!

Close everything up and grab the spraypaint!  I used a nice gloss black, two coats on each side.  I tried to use a clear enamel as well, but found out the hard way that the two brands of paint didn't mesh well.  The enamel dissolved some of the black!

Step 9: Make a Speaker Grill

I thought the rubber gloved and epoxied holes looked kind of crappy, so I built a little speaker grill.  It was very basic, just a plastic frame cut to size and then some window bug mesh stretched over it.  I tacked everything in place with hot glue and then epoxied it to the speaker itself, finishing off with a couple more coats of black paint.

Step 10: Control Labels

The original goal here was to print up some labels, glue them on, and then hit the whole shebang with some clear enamel spray.  As I mentioned a couple of steps ago, the enamel happened to dissolve some the black paint!  This made my labels shift, and also absorb some of the black, so after it dried I got some silver paint and redid the labels by hand.  I think this actually looks a bit nicer than the original idea.

Step 11: Finishing Touches

Just a couple of things left to do here.  My 9v clip was in a case, so I epoxied magnets to it, and epoxied more magnets to the inside of the speaker case, so as to hold it in place. 

The final thing to do is to cram a little light fabric up into the speaker case.  That will keep all cords out of the way.

You're done!  Now go and give the gift of music . . . in the shower!

Step 12: Final Thoughts

Well this was a fun project and, I think, a nice gift!  It didn't turn out as professional (read: commercial) looking as I had hoped, but it still looks pretty good, and most importantly, my girlfriend said she liked it.

Please take a moment to comment, leave me a rating, and/or subscribe!  Any and all feedback, positive, negative, or meh is greatly appreciated.  Let me know what you thought of the writing, my methods, the pictures, the video, my singing voice, anything!

Thanks very much for reading, and if you make your own, post some pictures in the comments.  If you do, I'll send you a DIY patch!

Comments

author
FastEd88 (author)2010-03-01

Now add a lcd screen and you could have karaoke too!

Fast Ed

author
depotdevoid (author)FastEd882010-03-01

Sweet!  Maybe I should just install a flat screen in the shower?

author
luvit (author)2010-01-04

for christmas I got an old 17" TV for my sister. I placed it on the end of her tub for her to enjoy... I made sure there was plenty of extension cord.

author
Da Nugesta (author)2010-01-04

nice 'ible!! 5/5! wat model name wer the speakers from cos the drivers r really nice!! again great job! :)

author
depotdevoid (author)Da Nugesta2010-01-04

I wish I could tell you, but I've actually had those disassembled for about six months now.  I was going to use them for a different project that fell through, so I threw away the case (along with the part numbers) back in July or so!

Thanks for the complement and the rating Da Nugesta!

author
sawatzky (author)2010-01-03

 uh, two points,
1. If, as you say, you might not want to use this IN the shower, just nearby... what's the point of this exercise??? Normal speakers tolerate high humidity levels. I have a 1950's era tube radio in my bathroom with two paper speakers in it... no problems there.
2. You will need more power and larger speakers than this project allows to be able to hear anything besides a noisy rattle if you're actually listening to this while showering. I have a waterproof radio in my shower. The sound just bounces around and sounds like white noise no matter how high I turn the volume. 

author
depotdevoid (author)sawatzky2010-01-03

Both good points, here are my thoughts:

1.  It has been used in the shower, I am just worried someone might put it directly in the flow of water and blame me when their speaker/mp3 player craps out.  Also, I was concerned about splashing said expensive mp3 player, so the enclosure is designed to keep it out of harms way.  I usually use it outside of the shower anyway, just in case.  I don't want to find out I made a leaky enclosure or one of the glove parts ripped the hard way!

2.  I suspect you have bad acoustics in your bathroom, or your waterproof radio doesn't have as much power as these computer speakers.  I have no problem whatsoever hearing either music or spoken word while listening to this in the shower, and only end up with a rattle if I crank both the volume and bass up to 11.

I guess basically the point of this exercise was to create an enclosure that would protect all the elements of a speaker system and an mp3 player from the dangers of a wet bathroom environment, while at the same time reducing cord clutter and looking nice.

Thanks for the comment Sawatzky! 

author
mds2004 (author)2010-01-03

 Nifty idea. Who was the artist for the songs played during your youtube video? I looked up that Rosco Abernathy which resulted in nothing so that must be you...hah. 

author
depotdevoid (author)mds20042010-01-03

Thanks mds, but the musician wasn't me.  It was my old friend Ian, who sometimes goes by Rosco P. Abernathy, sometimes by Ian James, and other times goes by An Infinite Coincidence.  I forgot to link back to his music site!  Thanks for pointing out the oversight!

author
spydercanopus (author)2010-01-03

 For some reason, this was the last instructable created by David.  Further investigation found the shower radio works under water (not recommended) as well as under electrocuted bodies.

author

Nice . . . of course it would take one hell of a 9 volt battery to electrocute someone.  Maybe David used a full on bass amp for his speaker?

author
layzieyez (author)2010-01-03

Does this have to be powered by 9 volt battery?  I'd want to go with some sort of rechargeable battery like a couple of AA instead.  Good project, I just disagree with the power source.

author
depotdevoid (author)layzieyez2010-01-03

You could of course go with another power source, but most computer speakers don't work too well on less than the full 9v so you might be packing a lot of AA's into the case. 

Also, I used rechargeable 9 volt.  Cost about 8 bucks, but it was worth every penny.

author
Schisler7 (author)2010-01-03

Very cool! The only recommendation I would have is to not hook it up using a 9V battery, but rather use a standard cord and plug it in to a GFCI receptacle found in your bathroom. They are the receptacles with the "test" and "reset" buttons found in their center. These type of receptacles are made for being near water and are probably safer. They detect the slightest changes and break the current path in under 1/13th of a second. Its what is used in underwater pool lights and best of all, its probably already sitting in your bathroom. Just a recommendation :)

author
depotdevoid (author)Schisler72010-01-03

Yeah, that was the original plan--if you look closely as some of the pictures, you'll see a small hole drilled in the back of the case for the power cord, which has been plugged with black silicone in later pictures.  I ended up going with the 9-volt battery because the plug is located all the way on the other side of the bathroom from the shower.

Thanks for the comment Derelicte, and I'm glad you liked my project!

author
J@50n (author)2009-12-30

i am making one as we speak (well i speak/write/whatevea)......  

author
depotdevoid (author)J@50n2009-12-30

Sweet, I'd love to see a picture when it's done!

author
J@50n (author)depotdevoid2009-12-30

 it does not look near as good as yours, as i used a different container and have no lights or switches. im painting now, ill  put up pics tonight.

author
depotdevoid (author)J@50n2009-12-31

How did it turn out?  Can I see a picture?

author
J@50n (author)depotdevoid2010-01-02

 still gotta take pics, went on an unexpected trip up north...

author
shiannejessica (author)2010-01-01

I feel like I need to defend my honor here and insist that you play a recording of me singing in the shower.  Just so you all know:  I love (with a capital "l") all of the little gadgets that Depotdevoid makes for me, but I sing in the shower much better than this.

author

Dear Shiannejessica,

Please see the intro, paragraph 3, for a reworded stating of your shower singing prowess.  The author of this instructable never meant to imply that you were in any way a sub par shower singer.  He sincerely apologizes for any confusion or inconvenience this has caused you.

Also, Mr. Devoid would like to let you know that he would be happy to post a recording of you singing in the shower, either without aid or with the assistance of the device know as "Waterproof Speaker For Better Shower Singing."  Please let him know when a good time to acquire said recording will be.

Thank you,

Rev. I. Fagan, Ph. Dk., Reverend of the Church of the Subgenius and Doktor of the Subgenial Arts, acting legal representative for Mr. Depot Devoid

author
dustinbikes (author)2009-12-31

if anyone is concerned with the latex gloves deteriorating there is always nitrile gloves, that i am sure would give similar results and they are much more resistant to chemicals and ripping 

author
depotdevoid (author)dustinbikes2009-12-31

Good thinking, I hadn't considered that!  I'll add that to the "Gather Materials" step.

author
GroggDog (author)2009-12-30

Do you think it can take snow and rain? I want to have it outside,

author
J@50n (author)GroggDog2009-12-30

 if you get and use the right container and you make the gloves (speaker whole covers) glued completely all the way around it can take on most... the only thing would be if the latex glove started to deteriorate or got ripped.

author
depotdevoid (author)J@50n2009-12-30

Agreed, I'm sure it's waterproof, but I was somewhat concerned about the gloves deteriorating.  You could use something more solid, but then the sound isn't transferred as well.

author
FrozenStar (author)2009-12-29

Awesome :)

author
depotdevoid (author)FrozenStar2009-12-30

Thanks FrozenStar!

author
ciroman (author)2009-12-29

 I don't know if sticking lots of cloth in it is a good idea. It might create static electricity that could damage your circuit board

author
depotdevoid (author)ciroman2009-12-30

Hmmm . . . interesting point, but I think dafonso's right about this.  It's not exactly a precise circuit with a bunch of fragile ICs or anything.  Besides, you generally need a bunch of motion to work up a good static charge, and the cloth just sits in one spot.

author
dafonso (author)ciroman2009-12-29

In a big, dirty, analog circuit, I think the chances are minimal. However, maybe some fiberglass batting would be a more appropriate choice.

author
J@50n (author)2009-12-29

 Very interesting!

author
depotdevoid (author)J@50n2009-12-30

Thanks starburst, I'm glad you liked it!

author
Lithium Rain (author)2009-12-29

Wonderful! Very slick looking.

author
depotdevoid (author)Lithium Rain2009-12-30

Thank you!  I was definitely going for a slick look when I built it.

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