Retro Suitcase Boombox




About: Hi my name is Thijs and i have a fascination for portable speakers. I love to repurpose cool objects as speaker cases and think about how i can make it work and look good.

Portable speaker building has always been a great hobby of mine. This time i wanted to create a portable music system combining retro looks and quality components.

The suitcase is designed around a 90's BNS two way system. BNS is a well respected dutch hifi brand that saddly isn't around anymore. These speakers deliver a clear and deep sound, loud enough to fill a big room with music. The suitcase is controlled though the buttons on the backplate. It consist of a main power switch, a battery voltage checker, a light switch and a battery and bluetooth module charger. The backplate can be illuminated through a plexiglass rim as seen in the video. The suitcase itself is from the 50's and made of vulkanfiber by the dutch firm Bussemaker. Altogether with some wooden supports it makes a sturdy structure for the music system.

I hope you like the end result of this build, i am new to instructables so you can expect some older builds of mine to be posted in the future.


-TPA 3316 2*50W RMS, 100W RMS systempower.

  1. 24v amplifier.

-Step up dc converter 12v to 24v.

-BNS audio E12 120W RMS 2 way system.

  1. From a BNS e12 monitor set.
  2. 55-30.000Hz.
  3. Crossover pcbs with a crossover frequency of 5000Hz.
  4. 91dB.

-5v bluetooth module.

  1. With built in battery.
  2. can be charged with the built in 12v to 5v dc converter.

-12v 7 ampère maintenance free lead gel battery .

-Built in DC chargingsocket with charging cable.

-LCD volt meter.

-CO2 lasered backpanel of brushed stainless steel.

  1. 12v led light around the backpanel.
  2. 1 iluminated main switch and 4 switches for secondary functions, all labeled.

-Vulkanfiber Bussemer suitcase from the 50's.

-Speakercanvas to protect the drivers and tweeters.

-Enforcing frame of MDF on the insides.

-Two separate speaker cabinets inside, lined with acoustic dampening fabric.

-Playing time: inbetween 10 and 15 hours on 60% volume.

-Weight: 9,9 kilo.

Step 1: Building

Unfortunately i didn't document the whole building proces but i will describe some tips for constructing a similar project.

Used tools

-Coping saw

-Solder iron

-Wood glue

-Wire stripper/crimper


-Marking gauge

-Drill and an array of drill bits

-Array of screwdrivers


Choose a suitcase

These kind of suitcases can be hard to find today but by looking on ebay or local second hand shops you can usually find one at a reasonable price. Regarding the suitcase a couple of things are important.

-Ofcourse you gotta like the patina and style of the suitcase.

-The suitcase needs to be sturdy enough to support all the internal components, the Drivers in particular.

-The material of the suitcase needs to be workable. It shouldnt tear or shred if you drill or saw through it. Cuts need to be clean.

Speaker supports

-Make sure the speakers have enough support when built in the suitcase to make sure they don't vibrate and distort sound and to not let the weight of the drivers rip the suitcase apart. To accomplish this i mounted an additional piece of 10 mm MDF inside of the suitcase and secured it with bolts and nuts. Make sure to leave enough room for wires and connections when the MDF board is this thick.

-Just saw the MDF to a similar size of the suitcase insides and you can start by drilling and sawing holes in the MDF and later trace them over on the Suitcase to make the same cuts and holes aswell. If you trace them well the MDF and suitcase will correspond. You may or may not need to do some finishing touches with a file

Wire schematics

-Lay out and think about the wire schematics before you start to solder and mount everything in. Make sure al the parts get a logical and convenient place inside the compartment.

Part accesibility

-Make sure you can always get to all the parts if they need to be replaced. Nothing is more frustrating than having to demolish parts of the enclosure to get to a broken component or a loose wire. I did this by glueing the bottom and right MDF pieces in place but leaving the left piece loose. If you make sure to perfectly replicate the compartment dimensions this left piece can be held in its place just by the friction alone. With this method i can also easily slide out the battery if it is damaged.

Assembling wire connections

-Assemble wire and component connections that will hold. Take good care in soldering and use heat shrink sleeves. To alltogether avoid taking your build apart make sure you use good connectors and take your time with soldering everything together.

Making a backplate

Most people don't have access to a CO2 laser to cut stainless steel backplates. So i would advise to get a metal connector dish like these. If you get a blank dish you can easily drill and file out the holes needed for all the controls.

Step 2: Inside

These are some more pictures of the finished product from the inside. As you can see the suitcase consists of two acoustic chambers for each driver and a electrical compartment.



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