Introduction: Waterproof Speakers That Float - "It Floats, It Totes and It Rocks the Notes!"

Picture of Waterproof Speakers That Float - "It Floats, It Totes and It Rocks the Notes!"

This waterproof speaker project was inspired by many trips to the Gila River in Arizona ( and SNL's "I'm on a Boat!" ). We will float down the river, or attach lines to the shore so that our floats stay right by our camp site. Everyone has their own flavor of mp3 player nowadays, loaded with all their faves. I wanted to be able to easily switch between players, yet protect them and the speakers from the elements. This, like many of my projects, has a small budget. Therefore, I try to recycle or re-engineer most, if not all of the parts needed. BTW this is my first instructable so be kind.

*** As always be sure to use proper safety equipment such as eye protection and gloves ***

*** While having tunes on the river is a lifesaver this is in no way a flotation or life saving device ***

Step 1: Collect Tools and Materials

Picture of Collect Tools and Materials

*** Tools ***
1 - Glue gun & glue sticks
2 - Tin snips or sturdy scissors
3 - Screw Driver
4 - Scratch Awl
5 - Hacksaw ( I didn't end up using this, but you may depending on composition of container )

*** Materials ***
1 - Set of small speakers ( I had several old sets and selected based on size)
2 - Large container ( I used bulk size Heinz Ketchup container )
3 - Strap material
4 - 2 wood screws
5 - padding for inside bottom of container
6 - desiccant packs ( recycled from various things that had been shipped to me )
7 - zip tie and self adhering tie mount
8 - small amp ( I recycled mine from free branded SWAG given away at some conference )
9 - ribbed cable protector
10 - small piece of Velcro ( both hook and latch )
11 - small rubber feet (optional)

Step 2: Measure and Cut Container

Picture of Measure and Cut Container

Begin by measuring and marking where you will be placing the speaker grill. I did this by making a template out of paper so that it would be easier to trace the outline of the speaker grill and mark where the hole will be cut and the screw holes to be punched in with scratch awl. I also wanted to make the actual hole for the speaker as small as possible, while still allowing for the sound to resonate inside the container (also be sure to allow enough room to pass speakers through hole from inside). I have noticed that low end sounds are much better when the container is sealed. After marking both sides, it's time to begin cutting the holes and punching screw holes to secure the grill.

Step 3: Waterproof the Speakers

Picture of Waterproof the Speakers

I wanted to find the best solution for waterproofing the speakers that I had selected, or at least make them water resistant. But, i also wanted to maintain sound quality. The solution that I devised was to glue gun the speaker into the grill with a thin layer of plastic between the paper cone and the grill. I used thin, yet strong plastic from a clear trash bag (black would work just fine). The important part is to stretch the plastic taunt as the glue is cooling, so that it will still transmit sound clearly - much like a tympanic membrane. After the glue cooled, I trimmed away any excess plastic to prevent any buzzing or rattling. It is also important to thread the speakers through holes from inside before sealing it, as the hole is too small for the whole grill assembly to fit through. With this particular speaker grill design, I also decided to use some of the surplus plastic (trimmed from the container) to seal the two sound ports on each grill.

Step 4: Mount and Seal Speaker Grills

Picture of Mount and Seal Speaker Grills

Mount the speakers using the holes punched out earlier, and secure them with the screws from the original speaker set. Once the screws are in place, it's time to warm up the glue gun and seal the outer edge of the grill. I also considered using silicone, but since I already had the glue gun out I decided to stick with that. While I had the glue gun hot, I also went ahead and adhered the rubber feet to the bottom of the container (nice for when you are around the pool and when the unit is sitting on a table).

Step 5: Secure Wiring and Install Cord Protector

Picture of Secure Wiring and Install Cord Protector

To be sure the wiring is secure and won't allow tension on the solder points from where I replaced the wiring to the speakers, I used the trusty glue gun to hold in place. I also used Velcro to secure the pad I trimmed to fit the bottom of the container (old foam mouse pad). I felt that i it would be good to have a bilge-like area for water to collect in without compromising the electronics package - for just in case if any water were to condense on the inside. I also used zip tie and tie mount to secure right above the pad.

Step 6: Amp

Picture of Amp

While the speaker will work well with out amplification, I felt it would make more sense (the white noise from running water will often "drown" out the music) to provide some boost. There are many solutions to this challange (see the many instructables on the topic), but mine was driven by cost and a few other criteria which will come to "Light" later. I chose the re-engineer an amp from some SWAG (stuff we all get)I I picked up along the way. One nice feature this design has is the 6v in port which actually runs of USB voltage. It also runs off four AAA rechargeable batteries that can be charged via the external 6v in or in Arizona the Sun.

Step 7: Final Assembly and Field Testing

Picture of Final Assembly and Field Testing
To insure the safety of the unit I attached a 1" loop of nylon rope (trimmed from some old climbing gear) secured with two wood screws. I also used a bit of glue on the inside of container to prevent snagging or scratching from screws. Depending on the size of your container, you may find it quite nice for keeping your extra stuff dry (lighters, cell phones, etc.) Once all connections are tested you are ready to begin field testing.

Soon to come solar panel that fits in the lid to charge battery pack ($4 sidewalk light from wally world).

"It floats, it totes and it rocks the notes!"

Bench Test

Pool Test

Monsoon Test


dgrube (author)2012-08-17

Any suggestions on where to find a cheap amp? Or what other items I may be able to pull one out of?

JaMEsBoONxD (author)dgrube2014-09-27

There are many tutorial about how to make an amplifier,you can search from YouTube or Instructable =) Usually I'll use the same way as Ascars(go search Bluetooth speaker v2.0 and u will see how he make his own loud(seriously,that was really loud) amplifier from scratch ^^

tony1204 (author)2013-08-01

i dont get how the speakers can just be exposed to water?

ross33 (author)2011-08-05

i have the same speakers there playin rit now lol. they are loud for there size

nione (author)2009-09-26

OMFG! Im a Boy SCOut, and we do crap like canoeing all the time, and we did like last week and I was on here looking for this exact project but i guess you hadnt come up with it! But man this is so sweet, I have to make this for my next venture

Young Zaphod (author)nione2011-07-01

I'm very happy that you are excited about DIY projects and are involved in scouting. I am one of many Eagle Scouts in my family and I learned countless things while I was actively involved in BSA, many of which helped to shape the person that I am today.

I encourage you to choose carefully the kind of language you use even in text-ese. Please try to remember to set the right example each day as there are so few who lead by example in our time. Others are counting on you to do so.

avflyer172 (author)nione2009-10-06


The nerdling (author)2011-05-31

so cool

txluke (author)2011-05-11

I like this little thing. I am more into turning coolers into radios. This would be good when I can't take my cooler with me .The forums at have a lot of good ideas too. How long does this play before you have to recharge it?

ShadowAssassin (author)2010-12-23

What kind of amp is it ... Company???

The company I am not sure about but they are everywhere now with various company logo's printed on them. Mine was Verizon swag (stuff we all get) and was free! Here is link to same type though ( ) if you can't find someone handing them out for free.

mastermayhem117 (author)2009-08-17

Needs external volume control... I'm going to make this as soon as I finish my giant container of french vanilla powdered coffee. I wonder if I can make the volume control touch? Also, I was thinking shrink wrap for the covering of the speakers... it can be thin though, but will stretch nicely I think. All in all, I love the idea. Must drink more powdered coffee....

The reason you shouldn’t use touch controls is because the water will affect it.

well if you can take the pot (potentiometer aka the volume nob) and isolate it / mount it outside of the container surround it in hot glue or w/e u want to use and make sure the nob will fit over it and it should be fine

ytn918 (author)2010-07-27

If you could add a solar pannel on the lid to charge your mp3 player then you got your self a million dollar product there!

LifeWarrior (author)2010-07-25

This makes a great pool toy, I've been looking for a way to waterproof a set of speakers next to the hottub, i've been working on a set of fiberglass enclosures and this really helps solve a problem, Thanks!

avflyer172 (author)LifeWarrior2010-07-26

Thanks! I use mine at the pool, river, ocean or even on the back deck if it is raining.

TwistedWest (author)2010-02-14

I googled waterproofing speakers. and this is what it came up with. My application is for a motorcycle sound system. because in oregon it is illegal to have headphones in while riding or driving. I have all the stuff i need but couldnt figure out how to waterproof the speakers rather than paying $250 bucks for a set. Granted im only useing part of your ideal but the whole thing is great probably make one later. thanks

avflyer172 (author)TwistedWest2010-02-16

Awesome, glad this helps!

TLMATX (author)2009-10-02

Cool Idea man. I just did basically the same thing but I used much more/larger speakers out of an old stereo and just stuck it all in an igloo cooler. The sound is slightly muffled through the cooler but it's still a whole lot louder with considerably more bass than smaller speakers (similar to the size you used) that I tried to waterproof like you did. Keep an eye out for my instructable on the cooler radio

avflyer172 (author)TLMATX2009-10-06

Thanks, glad to see others building on this design. I be on the lookout for your build.

gbanklos (author)2009-09-03

its a great idea. just a suggestion... make one side heavier so the speaker faces up when in the water. that way it can be heard clearly when its in the water... right???

avflyer172 (author)gbanklos2009-09-04

Yes you will notice in the videos that it sits at an angle so that both speakers are above the water in the pool, and on the river the position of the strap and weight of amp (which is secured by Velcro) maintains the angle.

frikkie (author)2009-09-01

No WAY! It SUKS! HAhaha just joking with a very nice instructable and quite neat.

avflyer172 (author)frikkie2009-09-02


mangomango (author)2009-08-24


avflyer172 (author)mangomango2009-09-02


Radioactive_Legos (author)2009-08-13

Wow! Nice! Will the speakers still work if they are submerged (and by that I mean "Will it play underwater?")?

They will function under water but audio quality is not good.

D.L.H. (author)2009-08-13

Good for travel and great speaker amazing design.

harleygirl81 (author)2009-08-11

Hey I am so glad you finally published this!! I remember the first river trip when we tested it, and it made the float that much better =)

Yerboogieman (author)2009-08-10

Nice! Featured on Lifehacker.

5cagm (author)2009-08-09

Great first instructable! I am definitely going to try this one out myself and the solar panel idea sounds perfect. Let's be honest, most people don't go to the beach if it's not nice and sunny so it's a practical addition.

daugydaug (author)2009-07-31

Talk about perfect for an up and coming canoe trip. Can't wait to drink all of my Folgers just to use the can. Thanks for help.

robotguy4 (author)2009-07-23

It seems like there is a lot of extra space in these... Nice design!

avflyer172 (author)robotguy42009-07-23

Yes there is by design, many things to keep dry on the water!

pdub77 (author)avflyer1722009-07-29

Speakers always have extra space in them to allow for some resonance. Flat speakers, more often than not, sound flat.

robotguy4 (author)pdub772009-07-29

Hmmm... I didn't know that... "Flat speakers sound flat..." Hmmmmm... I understand what you are saying, and it makes sense, but that's just a funny sentence...

pdub77 (author)robotguy42009-07-30

Yeah, kind of a weird way to say it, but it tends to be true. There are some flat speakers out there that sound good, but they tend to be very high end types like Bang and Olefsen and the like. High frequencies don't require as much space, but lower frequencies definitely require space for the vibrations to resonate. This is why smaller speakers are more likely to sound "tinny" or "flat."

invisiblelight386 (author)2009-07-23

cool i just did this for my bike last week, i used a jelly jar

zvillesurfer (author)2009-07-23

can you hear it underwater?

avflyer172 (author)zvillesurfer2009-07-23

Yes but not very well, sounds are very muted but audible.

Lithium Rain (author)2009-07-23

Scary! I was just working on waterproof speakers for _my_ raft. :D Great job. Hope I can do as well. :)

matula (author)2009-07-23

wow, this is just cool.

avflyer172 (author)2009-07-23


zholy (author)2009-07-23

Really, really great idea ... I always thought, that when you cover the speakers (to make them waterproof) the sound volume will reduce rapidly...but I see I was a little bit pessimistic :) Great idea, great videos ...

Stremplette (author)2009-07-22

What a great idea!! I love the way you can keep stuff (cigs, lighter, phone) dry as well - it's always hard to find a way to keep those things dry when you're doing a float trip.

theRIAA (author)2009-07-22

this is just brilliant! great job!

Marble of Doom (author)2009-07-22

That's a lot of ketchup! Great job. I was wanting to make one of these out of those large 6v floating lanterns.

About This Instructable




More by avflyer172:Waterproof Speakers that float - "It floats, it totes and it rocks the notes!"
Add instructable to: