How to Build an Ice Chest Radio

Detailed instructions on how to bulid an ice chest radio, and where to find the products.

Ice Chest Radio

After searching the Internet for ways to make an ice chest radio, I noticed there were not very many sites out there. So I am going to show you how to build one. I received this idea from looking at how some one else built theirs, but I did things a little differently. Just as a precaution, if you build this radio cooler you agree that I am not responsible for any injury or mishaps that might happen during, before or after the building of your radio cooler. Build and use at your own risk! Also the cooler although able to float, will need to be put in a tube or some other floatation device if taken on the water.
>This post is pretty lengthy but I tried to be as detailed as I could in explaining things<

What you will need

This is a list of what I used and and the site where I got the products. The site has the lowest prices for all there products as much to 50%-70% off original prices. This site contains most all brands and types of the electronics you will want and/or need for this project. You do not have to use the same products as I did, I will list what I used along with other things that would work depending on how you want your radio cooler. The products will have a link to the site next to them.

What I used:

- Igloo Maxcold 70 quart cooler from Academy - $40.00 Academy Site
This cooler is in between medium and large and might be bigger than you want, the best size cooler for putting in a tube is a 50-60 quart.
Any medium size cooler will work. You should get a cooler that will be able to fit the amount of speakers you want, the size of the amp you want, and the battery.

- 4 Clarion Waterproof Marine Speakers, come in sets of 2 Online Site
$60 for 1 set (2 speakers)
$120 for 2 sets (4 speakers)

- 4 Channel car amplifier - Jensen Power 760W - $60 Online Site
If your only installing 2 speakers then you would only need a 2 Channel amp.
You do not need to get a marine am because they are not really water proof and mainly protect against salt in the air and corrosion.

- Amplifier install kit -- 6 gauge - $20 Online Site
I got this gauge so I could push the wattage easily but an 8 or 10 gauge would work fine depending on what you get and how many watts your going to use.

- Battery 12v I got the smallest one I could find for a vehicle. - 50$
--last for couple days without charging.
It would be more practical if you bought a lawn and garden battery which can be found at any auto part stores, home depot, walmart, much smaller and cheaper.

- Headphone to RCA cable they look like this (Cable) - $10
--If you have a 4 Channel amp you will need two of theses cables.
---You will then need a Y adapter it looks like this (Y adapter) - $5

- Electric switch (Switch) - $3 
It doesnt really matter what kind of switch you get most any will work.

- Proper wire connectors
These should be used to ensure a good connection and to keep from having a malfunction or short.

Getting Started
Before we start youll need pliers, exacto knife, dremal tool--(Picture), wire strippers, and a screwdriver, protective glasses.

I created this cooler so that I could install a radio head unit in the middle in the future, you can put the speakers anywhere you want as long as you have room. Make sure that the speakers you buy will fit and are not to large. In this cooler I am installing two speakers in front and one on each side. Also these speakers and prob most marine speakers have a waterproof seal on the back and come with self tightening clips

Once you have all the necessary tools and equipment its time to start cutting the cooler. The speakers come with a template, but using a CD works good because its slighty smaller than the hole needs to be. This will give you room for error and you can widen them later. Be sure to measure everything out correctly and the secure the CD and mark it.

I used the dremal tool with the circle cutter--(Picture) - $15, as you can see I marked the center of the circles and used the circle cutter to cut a perfect circle. If you do not have this you can just use the dremeal tool with a cutting bit or use an exacto knife. You might want a vacum when you scrape out the foam insulation. The inside holes can be cut smaller but it really makes no difference, we will cover that later.

Once you have the holes cut in the front and back and you have widened them enough insert the speaker making sure that it sits flush against the cooler, and sitting in the direction so the speaker cover will be upright. Once you have it in place mark the holes with a marker.

Once you have the holes marked remove the speakers. These speakers come with self tightening panel clips which will sucure your speaker to the thin cooler wall. Use the clips as a template to cut out recangle notches so that the holes in the clip line up with the marks you made on the cooler.

Next remove the clips and drill a hole just smaller than the screw size where you marked the holes with the marker. Dremel tool makes this very easy as you can change out bits quickly and you can use it to make any alterations to any of the holes such as grinding, widening, sanding, and cutting.

After I cut the notches out and drilled the holes, I notched out the inside of the hole over where the screws will go so I could easily access the backside of the clip and push in on it to get the screw in. This is not necessary but it is helpful. Also you can choose to make the inside hole whatever size you want as long as the speaker can fit through, I made mine almost the same as the front.

Now that everything is cut out its time to install the speakers, make sure you attach the speaker wire to the speakers and that the wire is in the opening before you put in the speaker. Make sure your clips are in and then screw the speaker in. You may have to push on the back side of the clip so the screw aligns with the hole and screws in. Now that you have these speakers in they are sealed pretty good, but I also added a clear marine silicone sealent around the edges (with the covers off).

Now on this paticular cooler I had to notch out the raised edges on the sides so that I could put in speakers. The first thing I did was to set the speaker in the hole "with the cover on" and mark around the speaker with a marker how far out I needed to trim. You need to have enough cut out so the speaker sits flush against the cooler with its cover on.

After you get the right amount cut out and it sits flush, put some thin self sticking rubber foam weatherseal on the part you cut out and on the the botton part of the cut out. You will need this to cover the exposed foam and to fill the gaps that you will have. (repeat for both sides)

Now that you have sealed the gaps, attach the speakers just like you did on the front. After installing the speakers put the covers on and then cut away the excess froam sticking out "only around the covers", not the actual speaker. Then take the covers off and put some clear marine silicone around the speaker filling in any gaps that are left. Once dry put the covers back on and thats it for the speakers.