Solar Sound Cooler

Solar Sound Cooler


Project Category:
Home Electronics

Project Level:

Project Time:
8-20 Hours

Project Cost:
$100 – $500

Project Description:
Solar Powered Sound System for an Above Ground Pool

Design Goals:
I wanted a sound system for my pool that was loud enough for me to enjoy the music but not so loud that it annoyed my neighbors. (I like my neighbors.) That meant the speakers had to be close to the pool. But I didn’t want anything connected to AC current anywhere near the pool. It also had to be weather resistant and not likely to be damaged by a flying beach ball or other pool toy. It had to have bluetooth so I can control it from my phone and FM radio – just because.

Driver Selection:
I chose the TIC GS-10 (302-127 ) omnidirectional speakers because they could be mounted on the fence around the pool and they are weather resistant. After first testing, I found the sound needed more oomph – more bass – at lower volumes than these speakers provide So I added a pair of Dayton Audio DAEX32EP-4 Thruster 40W Exciters (295-230) glued to the steel wall of the above ground pool. The steel and the water dampen much of the high frequency energy of these speakers but the low frequency comes through nicely and can be balanced with just a volume adjustment. AND you can hear the music under water!

Enclosure Design:
I know you mean speaker enclosure, but for this project one important element was a waterproof enclosure for the electronic components. For this I chose an Igloo Cool Cube. The main compartment holds the components while the top flap gives you access to the controls.

Enclosure Assembly:
I drilled connections for the speakers and the power input through the body of the cooler and sealed them with silicone sealant. Then I cut an opening between the lid flap and the cooler for the 12 VDC Bluetooth FM Radio MP3 Audio Preamp Board (320-348) and the power switch. I added a Pyle 4 channel Marine amp (# n/a), the batteries, screwed the solar regulator to the inside wall of the cooler and wired her up.

Crossover Design:

Tips & Tricks:
The Pyle amp is just slightly too large with the connectors attached. Use a hot hair dryer or heat gun on the lid to slightly warp the plastic to make room and still be sure it closes tightly.

After drilling the holes through the cooler body seal around the sides inside the hole to keep moisture from collecting inside the cooler wall.

If you’re not in danger of getting it wet, crack the cooler lid and let the heat escape.

Make sure you have a place to mount the solar panel that faces SW and is out of the way of pool activity.

Get a solar regulator with a USB port and you can keep your phone/mp3 player/etc charged along with the system.

Is it audiophile quality? No. But the sound is great for having fun in the pool. I wish the TIC speakers had a little more oomph, but weather durability is important to this system and I’m willing to give a little. I am extremely happy with how the Exciters have made up the difference and round out the sound. The Bluetooth pre-amp works great. It locks up quickly and has great range. FM recpetion is very good as well. I have not tried the USB or card portsThe system lives under the pool deck and I can control everything from my phone (in a baggie) without getting out of the water.

With 21Ah of battery life, the system works all day and into the night. Only time will tell how durable the system is out in the weather, but I am very happy with the system so far. It fulfills my needs for good quality sound and no one is in danger of electrocution.

About the Designer:
Dave is a location sound mixer for Film and TV production. He has been tinkering with audio since he was a wee lad. While he has built many rigs for recording sound, this is his first home sound (playback) project. Parts Express has been a life saver in helping me build rigs to record sound in all sorts of tough environments and unusual situations. I was glad to do this one just for fun.

Project Parts List:

TIC GS10 Mini Omni-Directional Outdoor Speaker Pair
12 VDC Bluetooth 4.0 FM Radio MP3 WAV FLAC Audio Preamp Board with Function Cables and Remote
Dayton Audio DAEX32EP-4 Thruster 32mm Exciter 40W 4 Ohm

###-### Pyle 4 channel Marine Amp
Speaker wire, electrical wire, switches, connectors, etc. from Parts Express. (too many part #s to look up)
Igloo Cool Cube Cooler
Solar Panel
Solar Regulator
3 x 12v7Ah sealed lead acid batteries

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