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
*** 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
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
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
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
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
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
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!"