Solar powered water resistant iPod Stereo Video – DIY

[View the post on the Solar Burrito Blog to watch video below]

I made this cooler stereo about a year ago but it wasn’t really Solar Burrito Blog related until it got the solar panel recently. So here’s a quick run down on this fun project as requested. I wanted tunes on my little boat but I knew it had to be tough and take a few splashes while protecting my expensive ipod or iPhone.

I looked around for battery powered iPod stereos but most were:

  • Not loud enough
  • Not water resistant or water proof
  • Used expensive batteries that had a short life (D rechargeables)
  • Didn’t protect my ipod or iphone from moisture
  • Cost too much

So I thought I could make my own out of plentiful car stereo components. Amps and speakers are all over Craigslist and the internet. I found an JBL amp for $20 on Craigslist to put in my boat the other day.

I made it to be a water resistant portable ipod stereo that was durable and really loud on my 12′ aluminum boat. But with the solar panel it also works great in an off grid or remote camping situations. When we go camping on islands in the San Juans and other boat it only sites with no power. The solar panel allows it to be used indefinitely as long as it gets enough sun and charge time. I set the cooler out on the beach or on another place to catch some good morning sun before I go to bed and as I sleep in the sun rises and gives the cooler some charge during the morning. Around noon I turn it on and try to keep it in the sun as best as possible to extend the battery. It lasts 4-6 hours, depending on how loud it’s turned up and how sunny it is.

It could use a bigger solar panel but this one was free and fits nicely on the handle.

Parts you’ll need to build a cooler stereo / How to build a cooler stereo
– Cooler big or small depending on your goals. Want drinks in it too?
18 Amp Hour Battery 12 volt sealed gel cell
– Car Stereo amplifier 2-channel (mine was a Rockford Fosgate Punch 40)
– Mini-mic to RCA cable to connect ipod to amp
– Waterproof box – (snapware from Target)

This system is a complete marine stereo system including 4 speakers and amp for under $100. If this was available then I would have bought this complete system.

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11 Responses

  1. This is one of the better blogs for solar i seen in ages. I love the advice and simplicity of the site. Great job!

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  3. Jesse M says:

    Thanks for the advice! Can’t wait to see that new project!

  4. Ya I think you’ll be fine. Just make sure your battery is larger than 17ah’s. I currently use a 10 watt panel charging the same battery that was in the cooler stereo in my solar power pack. (soon to be posted). But I use a charge controller since it could over charge it. Cheap chinese charge controllers and solar panels are all over ebay:

  5. Jesse M says:

    I was thinking about using a 5W panel with a battery that could power the “Pyle PLMRKT4A 4-Channel Waterproof MP3/iPod Amplified 6.5-Inch Marine Speaker System” for about 8 hours.

  6. Solar Burrito says:

    Hi Jesse, good questions. Yes my 1 watt panel is connected directly to my battery (17ah) as it’s tiny and can’t over charge it. You could get a larger panel but it would depend on the battery size if you would need a charge controller or not. If you’re using a large deep cycle boat battery and you’re just going to be in the sun for a few hours or while your stereo is pumping you should be fine as the draw will exceed the power input from the panel. That said, I found a $12 PWM charge controller off ebay for my latest project.

    How big do you want to go?

  7. sola9986 says:

    Tohner, your carvings on your site are amazing. I need to read your blog more when I get home.

    Peace and Chicken grease.

  8. sola9986 says:

    Thanks Grant, it’s a fun project. I’ve got more ideas for the next one. I want some ipod controls on the outside or even a remote so I don’t have to risk the ipod being exposed or in my hand on the boat.

    Or even a stereo made out of a log.

  9. kick ass very inventive.I dig your site.
    keep trucking…

  10. Grant Wagner says:

    Hehe, that looks like what, a 3 watt panel? I love using headphones (as long as, or especially really good ones), and 3 watts of solar over 6 hours should power a iPod and a pair of good headphones for a week.

    Still, it’s a great project beautifully done. If you want to get a few more hours out of a charge, look for a class D amp kit. That will most likely be about 20% more efficient than that car stereo amp. Those things aren’t know for power efficiency.