Music Box my portable stereo

A kick butt stereo for anywhere!

After wrestling with the issue for many years as to how to get some good sounds into all my classic cars I stumbled upon a very equitable solution while cruising the web. Like I said, I did not come up with the idea on my own. But .... this is my version of the project.

Project Inspiration

The articles that sparked this whole project were Junkyard Boogaloo Boombox and Catbox on, an auto related site that I frequent. The web articles documented a couple of audio boxes kluged together from parts gleaned from junkyard cars all assembled in a homemade portable unit. It was a bolt of brain waves that came up with my twist on it which was to build my own stereo in a suitcase. Instead of installing multiple stereo systems, lots of speakers and wiring each car to only go out a handful of times each cruise season, I can move it from vehicle to vehicle without hacking up the car. A simple power port plug in would be all I needed. So the Music box project was born!

PART 1 - Building The Box The Project begins

The Pieces Parts

First I had to rummage through a bunch of stashed parts to find the parts that I knew I had to find the basics. A case, a head unit and some speakers. What I came up with was a nifty neato aluminum case, a Pioneer 200 watt stereo head unit and a pair of 6 inch Sony Xplode 3 way speakers. Now that I had the basics I headed out to the shop to start hacking and slashing to fit it all together.

  • A nice aluminum case
  • 200 watt Pioneer head unit
  • 6 inch Sony Xplode speakers

UPDATE The Pioneer head has been replaced with a Dual XR4115. This unit uses all digital media and has no CD. It does have USB, SD Card and Aux inputs. No more carrying around a flock of CD's. Excellent!

Fitting and Cutting

The logistics of where to mount the head unit was first. I decided to mount it in the side face so it would be next to me when it was sitting in the passenger seat. The fitting of the head unit to the case was a simple slice and dice for the modular slide in DIN mount. The next was marking and cutting out the areas for the two speakers in the lid. Simple enough. 4 mount holes for each speaker and we're cool. The only other issue was that the speakers were totally exposed on top so I decided to fab a shield of 1/8 inch smoked plexi on some standoffs to protect them from damage.

  • head unit cutout
  • Speakers mounted in the lid
  • Speaker shield installed

Putting it all together and plumbing the power

With all the basic pieces installed I moved on to the electrical wiring. No biggie really. The power would come in from a simple power port plug in unit. But while I was laying out the wiring I had another jolt of wayward brain waves that said I could also make it usable on house power (115 volt) if I installed a modified PC power supply! I had a bunch of those sitting around my computer room. So..... a quick disassembly,cut and redirect some wiring internally, a paper pattern and another hole is cut into the case on the opposite side from the stereo head. Now I have a house power option.

  • Inside the case
  • PC power supply addition
  • Power supply external view

Now for more sophisticated electrical plumbing

To feed this unit from either 12 volts DC or 115 volt AC I created a switched buss bar so I don't have to keep swapping plug in leads. A simple screw down buss bar, a DPDT switch and some crimp on terminals and it is done. Plug in your input and throw the switch and you are good to go. For the 12 volt portable power hookup I mounted a powerport to the case and fabricated a simple male - male plugin cable. A pair of RCA jacks are available for satellite speakers [ the rear out of the head unit ].

PART 2 - Cutting the cord Making It Portable

Now that we have the power for the car and the house straightened out I needed a power source for portable use. So here we go. I already had a used deep-cycle battery. So I used a standard marine battery box and an all weather power port. That's it! After cutting out an access hole with a hole saw I screwed the power port bracket to the lid of the battery box, connected a pair of pigtails to the battery terminals and VOILA! Instant Porta Power! And since one is good then two must be better. Right?! I went ahead and added a second power port to the lid so if I have something else to power, say a laptop or cellphone maybe, I can.

  • power box
  • look inside

Part 3 - More Speakers Adding Rear Speakers

Since all stereos have outputs for 4 speakers I have decided to make use of that and add 2 speakers. The initial quandry was how to make it easily portable. The answer came during a trip to my favorite thift store, Salvation Army. A bronze hammertone metal file box! The right size and a handle on top. Excellent! Rummaging through my spare parts netted a set of PYLE Plus 160W 4X6 speakers. Some measuring and patterning got the cutting started. After cutting the speaker openings I drilled the mount holes. I also punched two 1 1/2 inch bass ports on each end of the box covered with some nice mesh for looks. The next step is the plexi cover and wiring. I installed 4 RCA ports to hook the box to the main Musicbox. I will also be adding some sound deadener to the inside soonish.

  • Bronze hammertone case
  •  Pyle 160W speakers