Tiki Taps With Sound Effects

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Note: This instructable makes the assumption that you are familiar with kegerators and beer dispensing, as well as basic woodworking and electronics.

My wife and I always admired the "Tiki Taps" at Disneyland's Trader Sam's bar, so we can't take full credit for this idea. However, we do think we 'plussed' it!

Over the last 15 years or so, we have brewed a variety of beer and ciders often having multiple kegs lasting for a few months. We like to have a few choices when we're unwinding so we decided 6 taps was enough. We figured a coffin type box for mounting the dispensing taps to was going to be needed since the kegerator is below the tile countertop (not seen well in the photos). We also like the tiki look, so have implemented it into our back deck decor.

Step 1: The Basic 'coffin' Box

We knew we needed a basic box to house the taps on top of the tile counter because there's not enough space in front of or on top of the kegerator (holds 6 Corny kegs plus CO2 tank and gauges). We didn't want something too simple, so decided the taps could be hand carved tiki idols from TikiMaster.com. The carvings were great and I simply used my drill press to drill straight holes into the bottoms for the beer tap handle hanger bolts and ferrules and installed them on the taps.

Step 2: Inside and Outside of the Box

Installation of the the taps was a real design challenge. In hindsight, I should have placed the hinged door on the back and just toughed out the initial installation of the taps. Oh well.


The inside of the tap box was lined with layers of foil insulation (really more like foil bubble wrap) to help keep things cool. Stapling it in place worked fine.

A dryer vent hose was attached to the side of the box and all beer lines run through it. Inside the hose is a smaller tube connected to a fan which is inside of the kegerator. It blows cool air inside of the box to help keep the beer lines cool. The air returns to the kegerator inside of the larger hose, and the cycle repeats. This seems to work pretty well, though there is occasional ice buildup in the kegerator.

The outside of the tap box was lined with 48" tall grass matting we bought at the blue big box store. It was long enough to wrap completely around the outer sides of the box, so we cut it to length (and wrestled with cutting it in height as well) and stapled it in place.

Step 3: Little Grass Shack

Of course, we have to 'plus' everything, so what better to go with tiki tap handles than a little tiki hut?

We knew the tap box needed a simple roof, and we had some decorative dark stained bamboo laying around being unproductive, so I carefully ripped it in half with my table saw. (note: watch out for bamboo dust if you every rip bamboo. It is very fine and is probably not the best stuff to accidentally inhale.)

I wanted the roof to be a storage area for the future electronics, so I made a simple rectangle base using leftover plywood from the basic box construction. The base sits on top of the box and gave me something to build on. Its also got a bit of weight so it won't shift or tilt in the wind (having it knock open all of the taps in the middle of a high wind storm is still a fear I have!)

I made the basic skeleton for the rest of the roof from some more ripped bamboo and attached more of the reed grass. I connected it to the bamboo by drilling holes in the bamboo and lacing tie wraps through the holes and the reeds. The tie wrap areas were then covered by sisal rope lashing where appropriate.

Step 4: Good 'nuff

We had to use two layers of grass in each area to make it thick enough (good enough) to stay put and to not let light through or see the surface beneath. I won't lie... the reed grass was a pain to get cut and secured in the left and right corners of the front and back of the roof because of how little there was supporting the reeds (a small wire interwoven between and around each reed). Lots of staples and choice words to "talk it into place" were required!

Step 5: Electronics

I did a lot of research for this and finally found the AdaFruit.com website. What an incredible resource! I found exactly what I needed to make the tiki tap handles come to life when pouring; the Adafruit Audio FX Sound Board. I followed the directions to create and load several different looping sounds to the board, and wired it up to a small amplifier and pair of speakers I had lying around. Power is supplied to the board via a 5 Volt USB charger. (Adafruit now sells the board with an amplifier right on it, so kudos to them for product improvement.)

I ran small wires from each trigger connection on the audio effect board to a mercury tilt switch I embedded into the bottom of each tiki tap. I drilled holes as horizontal as possible into the back base of each tiki tap for the switches to be inserted into. When closed, the tap handles naturally sit leaning backward a bit, so the tilt switch circuit would be open.

Step 6: Tilt Switches

Due to the backward tilt on the tap handles when the beer or cider is not flowing, the leads on the tilt switches needed to go into the holes first so that the switch circuit would remain open. This meant bending the leads backwards, which caused a few of them to break. On some of the switches the soldering was a little messy, negating the need to add much electrical tape to help secure the switch in place inside the hole. I didn't find it necessary to apply electrical tape to prevent the leads contacting each other because I just bent them away from one another.

When pouring, the tap handle leans forward and the tilt switch closes the circuit, grounding the pin on the audio board that is associated with the sound to be played for that tap handle. The sound repeats (loops) until the tap handle is closed. Super simple!

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    2 Discussions

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    Kink Jarfold

    4 months ago on Step 6

    This brought me back to my years in the Navy and living in Hawaii. Great job.

    A HAPPY JARFOLD KIND OF DAY.png
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    DIY Hacks and How Tos

    4 months ago

    That is awesome! Now I just need to find an excuse to install one of these in my game room.