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Old 01-12-2010, 09:55 PM
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Post How to build an "Audio Pipe" for your ATV.

This is just a condensed update of my write up on GM-trucks.com with corrections, additions, and whatnot.

If your wondering WTF an audio pipe is, it's basically just a small amplifier and a pair of 6-1/2" speakers housed in 6" PVC pipe. You can mount it to your ATV, UTV, golf cart, boat, whatever. Just plug it in to a 12 volt outlet and plug your MP3 player into it, you have music.

Parts Needed:
  • Several feet of Schedule 40 PVC pipe. SDR-35 pipe, which is easier to find, will also work but is considerably thinner.
  • Two 90 degree Schedule 40 PVC elbows. Again, SDR-35 will also suffice.
  • Short piece of 2x4. 12" is fine, it doesn't have to be perfect.
  • Pyramid PB440X Super Blue 2x35W Amplifier
  • Pair of 6-3/4" (true 6-1/2") speakers. They must have an outside diameter of about 6-1/2", most 6-1/2" car speakers actually only have an O.D. of 6-1/4".
  • SPST Toggle Switch (Single Pole Single Throw)
  • Marine Grade Locking Cigarette Lighter Plug
  • Stereo 3.5mm-to-RCA cable. You don't want to cheap out on this cable, you need one that can stand up to a lot of abuse
  • Several feet of 18 or 16 gauge wire, anything larger is overkill. Ordinary speaker wire or zip cord will work, but if I would do it again, I'd use jacketed CL-rated wire.
  • PVC cement and primer
  • Silicone RTV sealant
  • Set of rubber grommets
  • Wax & Grease remover, 220-grit sandpaper (you can also use 400 and 600 grit if you want a very smooth finish), and your choice of spray paint. I used Duplicolor's Truck Bed Coating, it looks great and has held up perfectly.
  • Finally, if your ATV doesn't already have a 12 volt outlet, you will also need a Marine Grade Cigarette Lighter Socket
All of the electronic parts can be bought at Parts Express.com. The wax remover, paint, and sandpaper can be bought at an auto parts store like NAPA. Everything else can be bought at your local hardware store (or found lying around your garage/shop.)

This guide is written assuming you will be using the exact same amplifier and cigarette lighter plug I have listed above. You can use whatever you want, but parts of this guide won't apply to you then.

Before you begin, you might want to temporarily hook everything up to the amp to test it and set the gain. To set the gain, turn up your MP3 player to about 4/5 power, then slowly start turning up the gain on the amp. Once you hear distortion, turn the gain slightly back down until you can't hear the distortion. Done.
  1. Measure your ATV's rack to determine how much pipe you need between the two elbows. Keep in mind that about 3" of pipe will fit into each elbow, measure them to make sure.
  2. Cut the PVC pipe to length, I used a recipricating saw with a long finetooth blade. Remove the burrs once you are done.
  3. Cut two 3" long rings out of the leftover pipe. Try to cut these as straight as possible. Remove the burrs when you're done.
  4. Glue the rings into one end of each elbow. Make sure the pipe and elbows are clean first, you can use PVC primer/cleaner if you want, but it's not absolutely nessecary since the pipes won't be pressurized.
  5. If any of the pipe is sticking out from the elbows, cut it off. The pipe needs to sit flush with the elbow.
  6. Lay the main piece of pipe across the ATV rack and determine where you want to run the wires through and mount the toggle switch. Keep in mind that you need to stay at least three inches away from the ends in order to clear the elbows. Drill the holes for the wires and toggle switch.
  7. Now would be a good time to paint the pipe.
    1. Start by putting the pieces together (don't glue them, obviously). Wipe down the entire pipe with wax & grease cleaner.
    2. Sand the pipe well with 220-grit sandpaper. You can move up to 400 and 600 if you want a very smooth finish.
    3. Remove the sanding dust by washing the pipe with mild soap and water. Rinse and then dry.
    4. Plug the holes and then paint the pipe.
    5. Once the paint has dried, unplug the holes and take apart the pieces.
  8. Now that that's done, push a rubber grommet into the hole for the wires and then run them through it.
  9. Cut a piece of 2x4 at least as long as the amp and screw the amp down to the board.
  10. Connect the negative power wire to the amp's black ground wire. Connect both the positive power wire and the amp's red power wire to one terminal on the toggle switch, then connect the amp's orange remote turn-on wire to the other terminal. Last, connect the RCA cables to the inputs on the amp.

    Click the image to open in full size.

    You can remove the inline fuse holder from the red power wire, but make sure you replace the fuse in the cigarette lighter plug later.
  11. Slide the amp and 2x4 into the pipe. Position it so it will be upright and not interfere with the toggle switch and wiring. Run a few screws through the bottom of the pipe and into the 2x4. Obviously, you don't want use too long screws.
  12. Mount the toggle switch in it's hole.
  13. Add enough speaker wire to the pigtail harness so that the wires can reach the ends of the pipe once the elbows are on. Run the wires to the ends of the pipe and plug the harness into the amp.

    For the Pyramid PB440X, the wire color codes are:
    • Brown = Left Positive +
    • Gray = Left Negative -
    • Green = Right Positive +
    • White = Right Negative -
  14. Run the speaker wires through the elbows and then glue them onto the main pipe. Again, make sure the pipe and elbows are clean first.
  15. Hold a speaker to the ends of each elbow and mark the four mounting holes. Drill pilot holes for each mounting screw.
  16. Connect the speaker wires to the speakers, and then screw them down to the elbows.
  17. Run a bead of silicone sealant around the edges of speakers, then attach the speaker grilles.
  18. Take off the cap from the cigarette lighter plug and remove the fuse. Remove the screw and and o-ring from the plug, then pull the two sides apart.
  19. Loosen the wire clamp and feed your power wire through the strain relief and wire clamp. Insert your negative power wire into the bottom wire lug and the positive power wire into the top wire lug. Tighten down the set screws on the wire lugs.
  20. Tighten down the wire clamp, then reassemble the cigarette lighter plug. Make sure you put the amp's fuse into the plug if you removed it earlier!
  21. Strap the pipe down to your ATV rack and plug everything in. You're done!

For speakers, I used a pair of cheapo Pioneer TS-G1642R speakers that I had lying around (they were supposed to go into a farm truck). Despite not being marine rated, they have held up to all of the mud, water, dust, and sunlight I threw at them this past year. Even being hosed down with a garden hose didn't phase them.

Here are some pics of the build:
Click the image to open in full size.Click the image to open in full size.

And here are some pics of the pipe on my old Kawasaki Bayou 300. I don't have any good pictures of it on my Grizzly
Click the image to open in full size.Click the image to open in full size.Click the image to open in full size.

My audio pipe has worked great for me over the past year. The cheap Pyramid amp actually surprised me at first. It gets loud enough to clearly overcome the engine and road noise when riding, given I don't have an aftermarket exhaust. When the ATV isn't running, it gets loud enough to hear very far away. Sound quality is fairly good, it sounds much better than a boombox or so, but the PVC tends to resonate to some tones. That might be due to the fact I inadvertently used SDR-35 pipe instead of Schedule 40. The enclosure does allow the Pioneer TS-G's to produce a respectable amount of midbass however, considering they are very shallow (and cheap) speakers.

My audio pipe has already seen many miles of rough trails, muddy creeks, and rocky piles but is holding up very well. I also had it playing for almost four hours straight with the engine off and it didn't drain the battery at all.

Last edited by thunderstruck; 01-13-2010 at 06:43 AM.
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Old 01-12-2010, 09:58 PM
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Very cool and very unique!

I remember this from before, thanks for bringing it over!
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Old 01-12-2010, 10:03 PM
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Very good build! thanks for sharing!
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Old 01-12-2010, 10:57 PM
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Hey that's pretty damn cool.
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Old 01-12-2010, 10:59 PM
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very cool. And I remember this from that other site too (which I don't even go to anymore).
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Old 01-13-2010, 06:36 PM
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Awesomeness is all I can say.
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Old 01-13-2010, 06:51 PM
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Cool idea. I never thought about adding audio to my four wheeler back when I had one.
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Old 01-13-2010, 10:20 PM
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That's a really cool idea. For a do it yourselfer, that'd be a great project. I mentor a high school robotics team and that'd be really cool to take into the shops on the weekend. I just might have to do this if I can do it cheap enough.
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Old 01-14-2010, 10:00 PM
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Awesome write up! subscribed
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Old 01-14-2010, 10:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mblouir View Post
Awesomeness is all I can say.
Is that in Webster's?
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