Dr Electric's 12V Soundsystem Setup, inspired by the 12V Music Manifesto
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Dr Electric's 12V Music Setup
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Instructions
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Heavily inspired by the 12v music manifesto by Igor Serebryany.
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This setup will run for 20 to 40 hours continuously on a single battery.
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This is a comprehensive and fairly safe setup that will handle abuse, and it's fairly portable. Once you've wired everything, you only need to disconnect the battery & speakers to move it. To charge, just plug in the charger's 110v input. It can charge and play music at the same time.
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You can skip many of the components and build a more stripped-down version to save money, such as in Igor's writeup.
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This setup includes everything to wire things permanently together, hence the distribution block and circuit breakers. You can screw everything into a plastic bin for easy transport and dust-free operation.
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I use mostly use 4 AWG wire. For such short wires, you should be able to pull 3kw constant draw - way more than you need. I wouldn't go thinner than 8 AWG. See the linked charts, keeping in mind that wire distance is round-trip from battery into load and back into battery.
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On wire sourcing: I chose to order all pre-made power cables from WindyNation. These are excellent cables. You can definitely save some money by ordering spools of wire and lugs and making them yourself. I went for the convenience - this setup didn't require getting a soldering iron out.
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On connectors: I use 3/8" lugs on the battery side to fit the M8 terminals, into 5/16" everywhere else, which fits well on the amplifier.
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Components are listed in order of power from, from battery through wiring and distribution to amplifier.
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Stereo Amplifier Build: No-Solder with Premade Cables!
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PurposeItemPriceNotes
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Totals$544.52All the totals for the various sections are listed in light orange. Prices as of Summer 2018
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Battery
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BatteryDuracell SLI27MDC 12V 90Ah Deep Cycle Battery$114.99This is the cheapest deep-cycle ~100Ah battery I know of. It has M8 (0.32") screw terminals.
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Note on lead-acid batteries:
The lifetime of lead-acid batteries depend on how far you drain them.
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If you drain a deep-cycle lead-acid to 0% charge (all the way), you get ~200 recharges.
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If you drain it to ~50% charge (halfway), you get ~500 recharges.
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Most batteries have a manual. Look it up and it should tell you.
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12V power distribution and monitoring
You can choose to skip all this, and wire the amp directly to the battery. I consider that inelegant and dangerous without a breaker!
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Wiring, Battery -> Switch (+), Shunt (-)WindyNation 4AWG 1x Red, 1x Black, 2ft 3/8" lugs$17.79Conveniently pre-lugged wire, with 3/8" lugs on both sides to go between battery + and circuit breaker
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Switch (+) and Circuit BreakerT Tocas 200 Amp Circuit Breaker$27.99This functions as both an on-off switch for the system, and a resettable fuse if something shorts.
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Power Meter with Shunt (-)VANJING DC 0-100V 200A Multifuction Wireless Meter$39.79This is a really nice little cheap battery meter. It tells you the battery capacity and how much power you're using, and it's wireless!
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Wiring, Switch, Shunt -> Distribution (+)WindyNation 4AWG 1x Red, 1x Black, 9" 3/8" to 5/16" lugs$12.99Wire with 3/8" lug on switch side into 5/16" lug on distribution box.
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Distribution Block, red (+)BUSBARS 4-post distribution block, 5/16", red, 250A @ 12v$21.00Allows wiring everything together with a solid connection, and easy hookup for additional things, like inverters.
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Distribution Block, black (-)BUSBARS 4-post distribution block, 5/16", black, 250A @ 12v$21.00Allows wiring everything together with a solid connection, and easy hookup for additional things, like inverters.
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Wiring, Distribution -> AmpWindyNation 6AWG 1x Red, 1x Black, 3ft, 5/16" lugs$18.99I had to drop to 6 AWG wires here, since the lugs on 4 AWG was too big for the amp's connectors.
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Battery Charger
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ChargerProMariner 43021 ProSport 20 Amp dual-battery charger$145.81Completely sealed, good in the dust, marine-grade will survive harsh environments. Can connect to two separate batteries at once and intelligently charge both - great if you get two batteries. The Plus version will charge 3 is you're into that. Will charge an individual battery at the full 20amps - fully charges Duracell in <5hrs. Connect the one set of charger outputs to your distribution block directly, screw it on, you can charge anytime even while playing music. Leave the other output disconnected, or use it to charge your second battery.
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Amplifier
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Stereo AmpSoundstorm EV2.2000 250w @ 8ohm, 2kw @ 2ohm bridged, amp.$105.19Recommended by Igor S. and works fantastically well. Sealed with no fans, so works well in the dust. If you want something different, make sure the impedances match your speakers. Note: You have to connect the "remote" terminal to the positive terminal as well, or the amp won't turn on. You can install a toggle switch here if you want. I didn't bother, and used the main circuit breaker to toggle the whole system on and off.
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Connecting Inputs to Amp
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Cables, Headphone Jack -> RCAAmazonBasics 3.5mm headphone jack to 2-male RCA$8.99Plug in your phone or laptop straight into the amp. You need one of these in your bag.
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Cables, RCA -> RCAAmazonBasics Stereo RCA patch cable, 8ft$9.99Plug your DJ controller into the amp. You need one of these in your bag.
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Speakers
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You have a wide variety of speaker options.
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Any passive speaker between 2 and 8 ohms, rated to handle 250W peak, 185.5 RMS power (@ 8 ohms), will work fine.
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For Burning Man, I use a pair of old JBL bookcase speakers I got for free.
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Igor S. suggests the Behringer 12" passive speaker.
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Craigslist is your friend - there's constantly PA gear floating about.
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Option: Cheap Bookcase Speakers
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Left and Right SpeakerFind free or dirt cheap speakers on Craigslistfree?I got a pair of JBL 2800 bookcase speakers, rated 125 watts, for free at a Pixar swap-meet of all places
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Wiring, Amp -> SpeakersAmazonBasics 14AWG Speaker Wire, 50 feet.$9.99This is dirt cheap speaker wire. Strip the ends, screw the one side to your amp, shove the other into your speaker.
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Option: Behringer Speakers$345.96
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Left SpeakerBehringer Eurolive B212XL$159.99Get these or similar on Craigslist for cheaper.
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Right SpeakerBehringer Eurolive B212XL$159.99
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Wiring, Amp -> Left Speaker15-feet raw wire to Speakon connector cable, 16 gauge$12.99You can make these cables yourself as well, or cut up unwanted Speakon cables
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Wiring, Amp -> Right Speaker15-feet raw wire to Speakon connector cable, 16 gauge$12.99
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Adding a subwoofer monoblock amplifier
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You can add an additional monoblock amp to drive a subwoofer. This amp simply wires to the same distribution block, so easy and tidy.
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PurposeItemPriceNotes
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Totals$182.07
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Amplifier
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Monoblock AmpAudiopipe Class D Monoblock 1500W Power Amp$158.08Recommended by Igor S. Includes a nice crossover and subsonic protection. Downside: contains fans and sucks air in.
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12 power wiring
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Wiring, Distribution -> AmpWindyNation 4AWG 1x Red, 1x Black, 3ft, 5/16" lugs$23.99Same wiring as for stereo amp: 3ft from distribution block to this amp.
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Subwoofers
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Again, you have many options.
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Any PASSIVE subwoofer (or active subwoofer with passive inputs) will work.
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Again, keep an eye on craigslist!
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Option: Behringer Subwoofer$412.98
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SubBehringer Eurolive B1800X PRO 1800W 18" Passive Subwoofer$399.99
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Wiring, Amp -> Sub15-feet raw wire to Speakon connector cable, 16 gauge$12.99You can make these cables yourself as well, or cut up unwanted Speakon cables
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Additional Accessories
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Audio Capacitor
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I don't suggest using these. Unless you take care to prevent inrush current during power-on, these will damage your battery and even catch fire. Avoid unless you're an expert, they need additional components to work safely
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12v to 110v inverter$48.98
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110v inverterAmpeak 400W Inverter with dual-USB output$29.99This inverter has screw terminals on the back, easy to wire to your distribution block.
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Wiring, Distribution -> InverterWindyNation 6AWG 3ft 5/16" lugs$18.99These wires are definitely overkill, you can use 10AWG here. But, these come pre-wired from the same supplier, WindyNation.
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Cigarette Lighter & USB Output & Lights
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Power DockBestek 3-socket cigarette lighter, 4-usb 6amp output$26.99Cut off the cigarette lighter cord, and wire directly to your distribution block.
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Small tech lightsUSB Reading Lamp with 2 LED Lights and Flexible Gooseneck$8.99Useful to see your gear in the dark
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