Home Improvement | 25 February 2016Make an Acoustic Speaker Dock with 5-Gallon Buckets Share article facebook twitter google pinterest Turning your cell phone or other portable music player into a mini portable stereo is simple these days. You can use one of the many self-contained portable speaker systems on the market, which let you plug and play: you simply connect the music player and presto—big sound. The downside to these systems is that they can run into the hundreds of dollars and most need their own electrical connection to operate (or else they’ll burn through batteries at a fast clip). Battery-operated versions can run out of power long before your party’s over. These systems can also be a little delicate—you don’t want to get a lot of water, sand, or dirt on them or you’ll wind up having paid a pretty penny for the equivalent of an electronic paperweight. Fear not. Even if your budget is tight and your party will be nowhere near an electrical outlet, you can still jam the tunes using your music player, thanks to Chris Peterson’s 5-Gallon Bucket Book. Create a much cheaper, fun, efficient, durable, and portable speaker system alternative with little more than a two five-gallon buckets, a short piece of PVC pipe, and a small bit of your time. Photo credit: 5-Gallon Bucket Book This speaker system is simple as can be. The secret to its success is that it exploits basic audio science. As anyone who has ever lived near a busy freeway can tell you, sound waves travel (sometimes great distances) and bounce—especially off of hard, smooth surfaces. Like the inside of a five-gallon bucket, for instance. Amplify the modest built-in speakers on your music player, and then bounce that sound all around a big echo chamber, and you’ve got a speaker system that does a lot with a little! It can also take a beating, so you’ll never have to worry about it getting wet, or dirty, or bouncing around in the trunk of your car. You can modify this setup to accommodate whatever music player you own. You can also jazz up your own personal five-gallon-bucket boom box with band stickers, or a Sharpie, and some creativity. Whatever your own personal look may be, you’ll control the volume of the system right from the player. Most players mount the speakers on the bottom of the unit; if your music player’s speakers are on the top, you’ll need to mount the player upside down in this system. You Will Need Tools: Vise Measuring tape Sharpie Cordless drill and bits 2?” hole saw Materials: 2″ PVC pipe (10″ section) (2) 5-gallon buckets without lids 60-grit sandpaper or a fine rat-tail file PVC cement (2) PVC slip couplings Silicone sealant How to Make a Speaker System with 5-Gallon Buckets Secure the PVC pipe in a vise. Measure along its length and mark the center point. Center the bottom of the music player on the center point and trace around the player’s base with the Sharpie. Photo credit: 5-Gallon Bucket Book Drill out the player’s hole, using a drill bit with a diameter slightly smaller than the width of the mounting hole. Sand or file the cut edges smooth. Measure and mark points 3″ up from the bottom of both 5-gallon buckets. Position the end of the PVC so that the bottom edge sits on this mark, and trace around the pipe. Drill out the circles with the hole saw. Dry fit the PVC pipe into one hole. The fit should be very tight. If the pipe end will not go into the hole, widen the hole a little bit at a time with sandpaper or a round file. Repeat with the second bucket. Photo credit: 5-Gallon Bucket Book Lay each bucket on its side with the holes facing each other. Stick one end of the pipe through one of the bucket holes (the player’s mounting hole should be positioned straight up). Coat the pipe end with PVC cement and slide a PVC coupling onto the pipe, on the inside of the bucket. Repeat with the opposite bucket. Photo credit: 5-Gallon Bucket Book When the PVC cement is dry, lay a bead of silicone sealant around the seam where the pipe enters each bucket. Allow the sealant to dry, and then try out your new speakers. Buy from an Online Retailer US: UK: Why just reuse a bucket when you can reinvent it? Five-gallon buckets are ubiquitous and cheap (indeed, they are often free). But did you know they can also be hacked, hot-rodded, reengineered, and upcycled to create dozens of useful DIY projects for homeowners, gardeners, small-scale farmers, and preppers? 5-Gallon Bucket Book contains 60+ ideas that put these humble and hard-working mainstays to work past their prime and keep them out of landfills. Simple step-by-step instructions, as well as parts lists and images of the completed projects, make sure you will have fun and love the results of your work. Projects include perfect additions to your yard and garden, tools to care for your animals, useful innovations, handy home helpers, and even family-oriented designs! They range from simple things such as chicken feeders to much more complex projects (small room air conditioner, anyone?). For anyone who doesn’t already have fifteen of them cluttering up the garage, 5-Gallon Bucket Book also offers advice on where to get cheap and free buckets and how to tell if a bucket is safe to use for food. Chris Peterson is a veteran home improvement and design author living in Ashland, Oregon. Among the many books he has written for Cool Springs Press and other publishers are Building with Secondhand Stuff, Manskills, four books in the Ideas You Can Use series, and many Black & Decker Complete Guides. He has also authored several books in the food and cooking area and he has co-authored numerous home design books with noted media celebrities. 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