Convert a Old Computer Into a Stereo




Introduction: Convert a Old Computer Into a Stereo

In this Instructable I will show you how I made a old computer into a power supply and radio for the top of my tool box.
This is a work in progress and I decided to take it apart to show how I made it.
I started this project to have a reliable power supply for testing sensors on automobiles without spending alot of money. the power supply has progressed to have a car radio,speakers and a power antenna.
 Please be careful to follow all precautions when working with electricity and power tools.

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Step 1: Collect What You Need.

I know I mentioned this in the intro but you can not be reminded enough about safety when working with power tools and electricity.
 Wear eye protection when cutting and fabricating the parts for this project.and be careful when cutting and splicing the wires together from the power supply( the power supply has large capacitors that could have power in them)and check all connections before powering on the project.

 Parts list: Old computer with a good power supply
                   A car stereo that works
                   2 car speakers 4x6 size
                   A  piece of flat plastic to mount the connectors a old front panel can be used
                   A antenna
                   4 connectors of your choice 
                   Some speaker wire and some butt connectors 
Tool list: A dremal tool or zip tool to cut the tin and plastic on the computer case and drilling the hole for the antenna.
                A crimping tool for the cold crimps on the wires.
                A needle nose pliers or some small wrenches to secure the binding posts
                A phillips screwdriver to remove and replace screws                

Step 2: Get the Case Ready.

First remove everything from the computer case even the power supply.
The computer case I used was a micro ATX so the power supply was in the way for mounting the stereo and power antenna, so I had to move it to the lower corner of the case.
 You will need to do some cutting on the case and it is easier to do this with everything removed.
Once you have it cleared out  you can  do  a visual of where you will mount  the different components before you start cutting . The stereo is larger than the  hole for the CD rom So you will need to cut both sides.
You can use the can that the radio slides into to mark the opening and where to cut .
I had to cut some other tin on the inside of the case because of the width difference of the radio and the mounting plates for a normal size CD rom.
 You will also need to cut a hole for the antenna and if you move the power supply you will need to cut the proper holes for that.

Step 3: Power Supply

I Looked at other power supply conversions on Instructables before I tried this. So I would suggest looking at the other Instructables on this subject  just to get a better understanding of what to expect when you are working with the power supply.
 First you will need to pick a place on the case where you will mount the connecters you are going to use to get and use the power and where the power supply will be mounted.. I used the opening where the floppy disc was mounted for the connecters and the lower back corner for the mounting of the power supply box. After you figure that out you will need to separate and  start cutting the wires to the proper length  and connecting them together according to the color of the wires.
  To get the highest amount of watts out of the power supply you will need to group the wires together according to there color and splice them together. The following color wires are the ones I used for power
BLACK for ground. All the black wires connected to the black twist connecter.
YELLOW for 12 Volts. All yellow wires connected to a red twist connecter
RED for 5 Volts. All the red wires connected to a red twist connecter
ORANGE for 3.3 Volts all orange wires connected  to a red twist connecter.
GREEN wire  connected to Ground to turn on the power supply.
The other wires were cut short and the ends were covered with liquid electrical tape to prevent shorts.
 The green wire is important to tell the power supply to turn on, without the green wire you will not have power.
 I used a old piece of clear plastic to mount the twist connecters.

Step 4: Install Speakers

Before you cut holes in the side panels, Check the space behind the side panels to make sure you have enough space for the back of the speakers.
 I used a scribe to mark the place where I needed to cut for the speaker opening and then used a dremal tool with a zip tool bit to cut the tin. As you can see from the picture I am not talented in working with tin but I was not concerned with how it looked as a matter of fact I liked it looking a little like a piece of junk to prevent people from stealing it. 
 I mounted the speakers in the computer case to keep it as one single unit but now looking at the computer case I realized it would be nicer to make speaker boxes.
 The speakers are wired to the stereo and depending on the stereo you can attach more speakers if you like.

Step 5: Install Antenna

If you are going to listen to the radio you will need a Antenna.
 You can Buy a aftermarket fixed mast car Antenna at a car parts store for a reasonable price or you can go to a Auto salvage place and pull out a power antenna for a good price.
I had a power Antenna laying around so I installed it on the computer case.
  For the antenna you will need to drill a hole in the top of the case. BEFORE YOU DRILL.
Make sure you have enough room to mount the power antenna.
 Power Antennas need a 12 volt power wire, a ground wire, and a signal wire. The 12 volt power wire will be attached to the YELLOW power wire. The ground wire will be attached to the BLACK ground wire on the power supply and the signal wire will be attached to the stereo.
On aftermarket stereos the signal wire is typically blue or blue with a white stripe.

Step 6: Wire the Stereo

On aftermarket car stereos they have standerdized the wiring colors.
 To wire the radio you will need to connect the yellow and red wire to 12 volt power.
The black wire to ground. The blue or blue with a white stripe to the power antenna signal wire and  you will need to wire the speakers as follows. The positive wire for the speakers are the solid colors and the corresponding ground has a black stripe on the same color wire.
I wired the solid purple and purple with a black stripe to one speaker and a solid green and green with a black stripe to the other speaker.
 The stereo unit I used does not produce sound out of two of the four channels so I only wired two speakers.
 Once you have all the components mounted and all the connections checked power on the unit and tune in a radio station.

WARNING: I turn the power off on the power supply when I am not using this unit so everytime I turn it on I have to program a radio station and the time on the radio.I was looking at other Instructables on the power supply unit and read that it always needs a load on it or it will break. So I do not recommend leaving the power supply on without a minimal amount of current being pulled out of the unit. the amount of he load will all depend on the power supply unit you are using. 
 Once you have the power supply unit working you will find other things to put on it. Like I bought a wire so I could listen to my ipod through the stereo and I also put a cigarette lighter outlet to charge my cell phone.Thanks for looking

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    7 Discussions


    10 years ago on Introduction

    I love the antenna, but you couldn't put more polish on this? Think..."Presentation"  :)

    Otherwise very cool.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Agreed. No offence, I admire the phantasy and the building, but That does not like something I wanted to have in my Room. I rather have No stereo and an Old como :)
    Good Idea, though :D


    9 years ago on Step 5

     Power antenna.. lol awesome. You should paint the inside chassis of the case gunmetal and black and put a plexiglass view panel so you can see this... Throw some wire mesh over that hole in the back and punk this thing out. 


    10 years ago on Step 5

    Does the radio have FM/FM2/AM/CD/INPUT1 and INPUT2?


    Reply 10 years ago on Step 5

    Hello, Yes the stereo has FM,FM2,AM,CD, and the inputs and they all work. If you do not need FM or AM you do not need to attach a antenna,but i like listening to the baseball games so the radio was a must.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    I love this idea, thanks for sharing. The power antenna is an inspired touch.