Introduction: Cheap Road Case

About: I have always like building... now I have the skills and equipment to do some really cool stuff.

I needed a way to transport my amp without it getting all banged up. I was going to make an amp rack out of wood, put some carpet on it and wheels... but this isn't really what I wanted. I wanted one of the cool roto-molded ones that cost $100+.

So I had this thought one day... can I mold my own plastic into the shape I want? Well... not really.
So can I get some plastic and bend it?
Sure I can do that!
Can I do it for cheap?

*(UPDATE: I dropped it the other day... from about 6 inches on the corner... and the corner collapsed and then broke off. Saved the amp... Now I know why they put reinforced corners on these things. I am working on adding end caps. I will show that when I get a chance.)

When at Tap Plastics the other day I was looking at their samples; they had this really light plastic stuff that looked like a kind of foam on the inside. Really light and really cheap. (Oh, did I mention they will cut it for you?) Called Foamed PVC?

Step 1: Getting the Supplies and Tools

Two sheets of the "Foamed PVC", in yellow, cut to - 22" x 20" x1/8" (about $10 for both)
Two sheets of the "Foamed PCV", in Black, cut to - 5.25" x 20" x 1/4" (about $6 for both)
*(Thicker stuff only comes in white or black) (about $5.50)
One piece of angle aluminum (I used the thin stuff, you can use thicker or the ready made steel ones)

Drill with various bits
Pop riveter with rivets
Heat gun (Hair dryer might work, would take a bit longer)
Something long and straight to clamp down the sheets for bending
Something to use to bend over the heated part (it's hot and you will burn yourself. Again, ask me how I know.)
Hack saw to cut aluminum (Any saw will work for aluminum)
Couple of clamps or a 3' board and a friend.

*Some of you may be asking... why yellow? Because they didn't have orange.
It's hot and I figured this would be in the sun quite a bit... so a color that didn't absorb heat was best.

Step 2: Part 01 - Cut and Rivet

Cut two pieces of aluminum to 5.25" to match the height of the sides and the height of the amp.

Measure back a ways so the buttons and switches don't get in the way 1.5" - 2" and place the angle aluminum.

Drill some holes and attach to the black piece of foam PVC with rivets.
*(You could use some glue... but what fun would that be?)

Step 3: Part 02 - Measure, Heat, Bend & Repeat

These two parts are going to be the top and bottom of the case...

Measure your equipment, most rack equipment is 19" wide. Don't forget to add the thickness of the ends... in this case 1/2" (1/4" for each side).

I marked the ends with a line at 1.25". This is where I will position my sticks to bend the ends.

Using a heat gun I warmed the line I wanted to bend on the top and the bottom. When it gets nice and hot use something hard to bend the end over and smooth the edge. I used a small glass jar for the initial bending and then another stick to hold it down while it cooled.
*(It is important to use something hard that doesn't conduct heat. I used my fingers and didn't like the results)

When done look to see that your bend is pretty close to 90 degrees... Good!

Did this on the other end and the other piece of yellow as well.

Step 4: Part 03 - Drill and Rivet

Lined up the yellow part with the black side part. Drilled a hole proximately every 2-3 inches. Then riveted them together, starting at one end and working down.

*(Rivet note: I thought I was going to have to use little washers on the back of the rivets so they wouldn't pull through... didn't have to. Worked just fine.)

Step 5: Part 04 - Top or Bottom?

Did the same thing for the other yellow piece and riveted it on the same way.

Looks pretty good, ey?

Step 6: Part 05 - Insert Amp

Okay I have to confess... I goofed on the measuring... When measuring I didn't take into account for the 1/4" black side parts... thus my amp didn't fit in the case (1/2" short). I decided that trimming back the black side to be flush with the angle aluminum would solve my problem.

Thing is... it turned out pretty good. So you might think about getting smaller side parts and plan on making them flush from the start.
*(this had an added advantage as I can now get to the handles)

Measure, mark and drill some holes for the screws to hold the amp in. Set everything in place...

Step 7: Finishing Bits...

Now I have a road case that will keep my amp... somewhat protected and looks good. I can get to all the parts I need and put in some extra goods.

The amp is only 16.75" deep so I made the case deeper than I needed for extra stuff.

First image is just the case with the amp.
Second image is the case, amp, little 110v fan and the power/surge protector plug box. (Fan and surge protector... thrift store, less than $5)
Third image is all the wires in and out.

For those that are really looking there is a little space under the amp. I left the feet on so it can have some air flow. The top has the same space... just enough for the fan to move the air.

Step 8: Done

This all has a point...

My school has no PA system + I am really nerdy = PA system that will blow out windows and work for dances as well.

So here is an image of the finished case with my really small mixer on top and the cabinet that I also made... yes those are 15's... in my classroom. It's really fun to hook everything up and change the mixer to make my voice squeaky and talk to the kids. We are having field-day and a dance next week so I will let you know how that all works.

Next I am going to use this same technique to make a front and back cover for this case... when I do that I will post the images and results.

Mixer I got with a little grant from
If you are a teacher... this is a really great thing.

I also have to thank Tom James from Eminence Speaker LLC he helped me work out some speaker issues. If you have ever been to a big concert... you have heard their speakers!