Introduction: The MusicTank

About: Oi I'm a senior double major of T.V. production and History at Hofstra University. I love making stuff, my recent project was a solar powered speaker system in the shape of a tank... I am continuing innovati…

What is it :  A Solar Powered 2.0 (upgradable) stereo system in the powerful and intimidating shell of a tank!

Why : I play for my schools ultimate frisbee team and we are away most weekend at                       tournaments, our tournaments start in the early hours of the day and don't stop
          until early evening.  Soo last year over winter break I began work on what would                     become the MusicTank

Portable music for your outdoors sports team!

            Make an entry at the next BBQ or block party!

                                  Bring your music with you to any outdoor activity!

Step 1: Materials





Tape Measure


Wire Cutter/Stripper

Soldering Iron

Right Angle


-2 X 3 s

-1 X 3 Furrowing Strips, 10'

-3/4" Plywood, 2 sheets

-Box of ten penny nails

-Liquid Nails multi-purpose heavy duty adhesive (Lots! I used this to combat the friction and shock of driving the tank off-road)
Set of Radio Flyer wagon wheels

-Metal T Supports

-Metal Frame Supports:
     Flat (x 8)
     90 degree (x 8)

-2" x 3" Metal Hinges (x 4)

-Front and Back wheels from a Radio Flyer wagon*


8 Ohm speakers (for quality of sound, could be better if your wallet allows)

Small 12v DC 40-60watt Amplifier Must be compatible with speakers
i.e.if you hook up a 4 Ohm system to 8 Ohm speakers your gonna have a bad time ( there are many out there but an important thing to remember is stock car stereos run off of 12 v car batteries and tend to have a higher quality of sound for price if you can find one)
12v-24v Solar Regulator

12v Battery at least 18Ah

Solar Panel-----> the one I used is 15v at 4.8 watts but any panel that is designed to trickle charge a car battery will be fine.  The more powerful the panel, the more the load is dependent on it; and therefore less dependent on the battery, this allows for faster and more efficient charging of the circuit

This is the exact one I used in the Mk. II Music Tank it fit the trunk of the tank perfectly

Step 2: Start the Base Structure

Much like a float in a parade, the MusicTank is constructed from a strong wooden structure covered in 3/4" plywood.  The base structure was created out of  2 X 3s held together by metal supports at the stress points.

*The wood and other materials I chose to build with was influenced by the future weight of the Tank; I needed to be able to lift the Tank into and out of the car by myself so i used multiple layers of softer wood vs Treated wood or metal

Begin:  by cutting out pieces necessary

1. Cut 30" of 2 X 3" wood (x 2) 
 this is the length of the base
+ 18" of 2 X 3" (x 2)
this is the width of the base

2. Cut 10" of 2 X 3" wood (x 4)
this is the height of the base

3. Cut 14.1" of 2 X 3" (x 2)
cut the ends of these to a 45 degree angle
  this is for the front panel

4. Cut 17" of 2 X 3 (x 4)
 pieces for trunk

5. Cut 20" of 1 X 3 (x 2)
 top support for width of base

6. Cut 21" of 2 X 3 (x 3)
   this is the lower base support


7.  Cut the 3/4" plywood paneling out (x 2)
     the base is 3' 6", the height is 10", top flat part is 1' 2", angled front side is 14.1", butt            end is 6" high  ** see picture 2 for dimensions

8.  Cut the inside panel walls / Electrical housing
     23 1/2" wide and 10" high (x 1)
      **with a hole 2 1/4" high and 3 1/4" wide centered at the bottom of the panel wall**
           -for front wheel structure support

     23 1/2" wide and 10" high (x 1)
      **No hole

9. Need Steel Mending Plates:
     Flat (x 6)
     90 degree Steel Corner Braces (x 6)

Begin construction of the Base Structure:

Lay out the pre-cut 2 x 3s (Length and the Width of the base) with the width on the inside of the layout.(ex. picture 3)
- Connect them by applying a generous amount of liquid nails and drilling down small flat Steel Mending Plates(see pic. 4) on both sides. 2 holes drilled on top and 2 on the bottom stager the screws so that they do not hit each other -----> that means 4 drill holes on each side 16 in total. This is the base support for the whole tank and it needs to be strong!

Next liquid nails and place (x 4)90 degree Steel Corner Braces on the inside corners of the base structure. drill screws into the Length 2 x 3 only. not the Width because there will already be to many screws from the Steel Mending Plates

[Pictures will come when i rebuild the tank]

Move up: add the Height to the base structure

place the first two of the 10" 2 X 3s go  12"  back from the front of the structure, flat against the sides of the structure perpendicular lengthwise to the front.  *Use 90 degree metal frame supports to secure the 10" 2 X 3s in place

the second two 10" 2 X 3s go  22"  back from the front of the structure, oriented in the same direction as the first two *Use 90 degree metal frame supports to secure the 10" 2X 3s in place

 Add the top support for width of the base
Take the 20" 1 X 3s and orient them so they are perpendicular and flush with the vertical 10" 2 X 3s

once you have this mark it with a pencil on the vertical 2 X 3s and place a 90 degree metal frame support under each 1 X 3 and drill it into place
*remember must be flush with the top of the vertical 2 X 3s or else the turret of the tank will sit securely

Finally set in place the plywood panel wall / electrical housing

-align this flush with the inside of the front vertical 10" 2 X 3s and MARK it with a pencil on the wood. **!!Do NOT nail this in yet, if you do you will have trouble setting in place the front wheel structure!!**

-but it is necessary to mark where to begin placing the lower base support (the panel might need to be sanded to fit, you want it to be snug)

-the plywood panel with the hole in it is to be placed in the Front

-the plywood panel without the hole in it is to be placed in the Rear

Next add the lower base support / electronic housing:

1.  From where you marked with a pencil place the first of the 21" 2 X 3s

2.  Place the second and third of the 21" 2 X 3s flat next to the first 

*refer to the 7th picture for placement

3.  Secure these 2 X 3s with a combination of nails and liquid nails
-put liquid nails in all of the crevices and angles making the wooden structure a solid and strong unit

Step 3: Hinged Door to Electronics and Trunk

The final part of the tank base construction is creating the hinged top and trunk. This provides protection for the electronic components while offering access and storage. 

The top hinged door has pretty simple construction, using two 2 1/2 " x 3 " nickel plated hinges (or 4 for more stability) the hinge is positioned at the center of the plywood side paneling. The plywood top is cut into 2 pieces which open out

*place small blocks of spare 2 x 3 wood on the other side of the plywood when you drill these hinges into place (for support), you do this because the hinges and plywood top will not be able to support the weight of the tank (its too thin) 

the trunk is created using the 17" pre-cut 2 x 3 to make the base structure longer. You need to align the 2 x 3s in pairs (as shown in picture 3) The bottom 2 x 3 should lay flat and the second should sit vertically on the edge of the 2 x 3----> this should look like a capital L ! (see picture 3) these will sit on the base structure of the tank, flush against the back plywood wall 

Set these 2 x 3s in place with liquid nails and allow to cure
once the wood is cured together you should nail the lower trunk support into place one or two medium size nails evenly spaced should make sure they never come undone :)

 The plywood base of the trunk rests atop three 2 X 3s spaced 6" apart from the edge of the trunk see picture 4 and the note in the base construction section of this instructable.


- the trunk opens upwards so that you can store the ipod dock for travel as well as whatever else will fit; this is made possible by having the top of the plywood trunk attached to the base structure with 2 sets of nickel plated hinges (the same as was used in the Electronics door)

- the flat area of the trunk door is 18.4" x 24", cut this out of a plywood sheet 
-also cut 2 more 17" 2 x 3s and set them with liquid nails a half inch from the 18" edge of the plywood cutout

-once the wood is set you can drill into place the hinges, allow enough space when placing the hinges so that the trunk can open smoothly and without trouble.  Make sure the side with the 2 x 3s is facing down, the 2 x 3s will guide the movement of the trunk better. 

**check out my Google Sketchup 3D model of the musictank for more info**

Step 4: Front Wheel Structure

Next Step is creating the front wheel structure
the front wheel structure is made up of a 5" x 5" block of wood aligned at the center of the MusicTank and set back 7 or 8 inches resting on a Support Strut 

begin by cutting the appropriate wood piece:

1.  Using scraps from previous cuts of wood layout a block of wood 5" X 5"
*this block of wood was talked about in picture 4 of step two*

2.  Next cut two 5" X 5" 3/4" pieces of plywood

3. Sandwich the block of wood between the plywood with liquid nails and real nails until it is one solid unit. * Once again must be strong because this will be holding up the whole tank 

4. Secure (liquid nails and drill) the front wheel structure from the Radio Flyer, make sure the wheel structure can turn and the handle to pull the tank with is facing the front

This is the constructed Wheel Block

5.  Preparing the Support Strut

     - Use / Cut a scrap 2 X 3 block only 2" needed                                                      

     - Take/Cut a 20" 2 X 3 (Strut)

Wood glue / Liquid nails the block to one end of the support Strut      

Once you do all this you will have constructed something that looks like a wooden hammer of Thor, this is your constructed Support Strut

6.  To the other end of the support strut drill and Liquid nails the Wheel block, set this back 7 or 8 inches from the front of the structure.

*The top front of the support strut must be SANDED:( down to fit the front Plywood Panel but this can be done later when you close it up 

Step 5: Build the Turret

The Turret of the tank follows similar construction. It is constructed out of 1 X 3" wood Furring strips covered in plywood panels.

-The turret is designed to turn so that you can aim your music at your target. Take that mini Noriega!

- the axle that allows for the turrets movement is a drum stick, the drumstick is positioned at the epicenter of the plywood base.  The drumstick sits perpendicular in wooden slots made in the Electronic housing of the Base Structure and the base of the turret. The weight of the turret combined with the speakers provides ample weight so that Tank will not and needs to be placed at the center of the structure so that it will be balanced

- the furring strips are strong but they tend to be sold warped 
*make sure you buy strips that are not warped, they need to be flat do they can support the structure*

- you need to buy at least 9' of Furring strips for the turret


Cut  10"  of 1 X 3 furring strips (X4)

Cut  12" of 1 x 3 furring strips (X4)

PVC piping

Buy three and a half feet of 2 1/2 " diameter pvc plumbers piping

Buy a 2 1/2" diameter butt end for the pvc pipe

Plywood panels

Cut 125 square inches [12.5" x 10"] out of Plywood sheet (X2)
-these are for the side panels

Cut 140 square inches [10" x 14"] out of Plywood sheet (X2)
- 2 are for the front and back panels 
*one of these plywood panels needs to have a 2 1/2 wide hole cut at its epicenter for the cannon, this requires either a circular saw or a regular saw and much sanding.

Cut  175 square inches [14" x 12.5"] out of Plywood sheet (X2)
- 2 are for the top and bottom panels


The area of the turret is 160 in squared or 13' 4" square

you get this by multiplying the base by the height by the width (Area = B x W x H)
* 10 x 16 x 10 = 1600


1. Begin construction by placing a 10" x 16" plywood panel down. this will be the base

2.Mark the epicenter of the plywood base with a pencil(on both sides), here you will later drill a hole for the drumstick axle

3. Place a spare 2 x 3 block (2-3") flat over one of the pencil marks, liquid nails this in place and let set(put something heavy on this so that it will be flush.

4. Then flip the base over and drill where the pencil mark is. this will be the upper support for the axle, keeping it perpendicular to the base

5. Drill two 1" holes into the base structure to the left and right of the block of wood, these holes will be for the speaker wire

6. Liquid nails and secure four 12" 1 x 3s into a square structure, as shown in pic. 3. use 90 degree metal support joints to make joints strong

7. Align the pre-cut 1 x 3s along the perimeter of the plywood base, use liquid nails and small nails to place them ( see pic. 4 and blueprints )

8. Liquid nails in place the plywood panels (front, back, side,and side) the front will be the one with the 2 1/2" hole in it
*leave the top off  more work needs to be done

9. Cut and place 2 blocks of wood then liquid nail them to the side panels. Do this to support the weight of the heavy speakers, these blocks of wood will be drilled into when placing the metal support frame for the speakers

10. Cut two small 1" holes on the left and right sides of the axle hole, these holes will be for the speaker wire to travel from the amplifier to the speakers.

11. Next the metal frame supports for the speakers are secured to the side panels with a combination of liquid nails and the provided screws. Make sure the metal frame is set and inch or so from the bottom of the panel, so that the screw on the bottom of the speaker can fit, do this for both left and right side panels (see picture 6)

12. After you set and drill the speakers metal supports it is time to wire up and add the speakers to the turret. Refer to picture 4 for how the speaker wire travels through the turret. 

13. Lastly you need to add the pvc piping cannon to the turret. Do this by setting the 3 1/2' pipe in the front hole (2 1/2") cut in the plywood panel, once the piping is put in place, you must hammer the butt end tight into place.  I hammered the butt end down so that there is just enough room for the plywood in between the but end and the *** accessory

The construction of the turret is now complete you are now ready to place it on the base structure

Step 6: Prepping the Hardware

the hardware i used as stated before is:

12v - 24v DC Solar Regulator ( charging and load controller )

Find it at 

15v (4.8w) Solar Panel

44 Watt Stereo Power Amplifier
you can find it here at YouDoitElectronics! ->

-this is a kit to build a 44 watt amplifier that 
"will output up to 22 watts per channel with excellent sound quality. (Typical THD less than 0.1%!). Originally intended for automobile use, but can be used as a home amplifier if you have a good power supply. Operates on 13 to 14.4 volts (typical automobile voltages with engine on) and can draw as much as five amps at 13.8 V DC."
No. 80-050 44 Watt Stereo Power Amplifier
 Price $29.90


6ft 3.5mm 22AWG Mini-Stereo Male to 2 RCA Male Speaker Cable

-cut and strip down the ends of the RCA cables to expose the wire.  Then solder the wires to the Amplifier with the correct polarity. leave the mini-stereo plug, this will connect to your IPod dock or IPod when finished.

found at


IPod Dock (

-This is a stylish addition to the MusicTank comes with a remote so you can control your IPod from a distance:) it also has a Apple USB connection for possibly charging you IPod in the future (there are many numbers of solar charging units out there for charging iPods and iPhones. all hook up o this dock)


**Still be careful when attaching the electronic components to the terminals, make sure you do not create any short circuits in the system. The terminals are very close together and require some skill with a soldering iron to avoid a short circuit

-When installing the electrical components start with the regulator, this will be the heart of your system and it will have visual directions as well as a instruction manual on how to connect the components correctly. Always connect your battery last, so that you aren’t working with an open circuit

-attach all of the wiring from the components to their respective terminals on the solar regulator

**When attaching all of the electronic components always remember to mind the polarity!
The solar regulator comes with terminals that can be tightened with screws. BUT the battery can power the "load" more efficiently and the solar panel can charge the battery much faster if it is attached to the regulator with a higher gauge wire like 10-8Awg but this wire is thicker than the screw terminals on the regulator! soooo ---> you must either cut down the wire so that it fits the socket or take the regulator out of its plastic shell and solder the wire directly to the terminals

I REPEAT ATTACH the battery to the regulator by either using the screw terminals or removing the plastic and soldering the wires in place (this may be necessary for the battery connections, because it functions best with higher gauge wire i.e. 10 or 8 Awg)

Step 7: Final Steps and the Finished Product

Paint Scheme
-the tank is painted a simple flat olive drab or similar olive green color. You should USE OIL PAINT* so that humidity and/or rain does not destroy the tank or ruin the paint.
-I painted my number onto the side of the tank but you could follow any design or create your own:)
- the underside of the tank is spray painted metallic gold
- the speakers are also painted metallic gold(do this carefully)
---> the metallic gold catches the sun and looks kickass in the sun

*after 2 or 3 coats the oil paint, the MusicTank will be very water resistant. Water resistant but not water proof, that means that the tank can get wet(speakers are water resistant and solar panel has been weatherized), but it should not be left wet or in the rain; even though the MusicTank has survived 3 rainstorms... It is unadvised to let it get wet, you risk a potentially dangerous short circuit if the system gets wet.

 Good Luck Tankin' !

I will be creating a new Tank in January with my minion Garby; we will be following this instructable and uploading more pictures as we go. So please post questions and stuff relating to the instuctable we will do our best to answer them : ) : )

If you are interested in purchasing a MusicTank please contact me through:
- my Facebook (Mike Mikula)

-Influensol : My small solar system company we offer custom personal solar units like stereos and solar USB chargers. We also enjoy doing custom MusicTanks! if you have a design in mind we can make it work

If you are located in the NY Tri-State area contact:                             Mike Mikula @                                                                                                                    

If you are located in Canada or New England contact:                    Alex Bagdonas @

Step 8: Upgrade the System to Mk.III

The third upgrade to the invention the MusicTank, the Mk. III if you will features cosmetic upgrades galore as well as batter circuitry for a more "mature" circuit.

New features to the Mk. III:

- Bigger more powerful Battery Well 
- Total control of electronics through the trunk
- On / Off toggle switch and a protected circuit
- Household power ! by the means of a 2 plug 400 watt inverter
- Arduino controlled light system

 ready for it....
-A firing cannon
( an electronic air solenoid cannon )
It's KING, but with Great power comes Great responsibility :)

Here's some of the Tank's light reacting to a piano playing

Epilog Challenge

Participated in the
Epilog Challenge