Project: The $5 Cracker Box IPod Amplifier

This weekend we built a IPod amplifier to power a small 8ohm speaker for an art project that one of my good friends was doing. Her project involved a metal sculpture that speak a manifiesto to anyone that walked in front of it.

I found the Amp Schematic in the latest MAKE magazine 09The $5 Cracker box amplifier.

It ended up costing closer to $20 CAN in parts because when you buy capacitor and resistor you have to buy them in bundles packages of 20 or so. In the end I have enough spare parts to build 5 of these amps for $20.

Good image of the Amp curuitThe directions where a little difficult to understand, they assumed that you have a good knowledge of circuit diagrams. With the help of of this diagram it should be too hard to figure out what to do. I probably would not have gotten it working with out that diagram.

Instead of using a 1/4 mono phone jack I used a mono head phone jack that connects easily to my IPod. I removed the potentiometer, it just isn’t needed for a IPod amp.

The $5 Cracker Box Amplifier circiut2

A full size schematic and directions can be downloaded from MAKE’s web page. If you run in to problems feel free to leave me a comment I might be able to help you or try the MAKE forums


Parts list

  1. A box of some sort or another
  2. Toggle switch, single pole single throw
  3. 9V battery
  4. 9V Battery connector
  5. 0.047µF capacitor
  6. 220µF capacitor (biggest)
  7. 0.01µf capacitor
  8. 100µf capacitor
  9. Hookup wire, 2 0 or 22 gauge AWG solid core is best.
  10. 5KO potentiometer (audio or log taper)
  11. 25-ohm (25O) rheostat
  12. LM386N audio amplifier
  13. 8-pin DIP IC socket
  14. Chicken head knobs (2)
  15. Prototyping PC board
  16. Speaker, 8O impedance
  17. 10O resistor
  18. 1/4 mono phone jack

Equipment needed

  • Soldering iron
  • Solder
  • Pliers
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  • Dragen

    Oh yeah! That image is great! However, seeing that I am a beginner at this sort of thing, I can’t tell which on the image represent which capacitor, I really want to do this project, but am lost. I have everything I need (a lot more than $5), but need help telling where everything goes.

  • http://abluestar.com funvill

    Hello Dragen

    I have included a copy of the schematic that should help you find where all the bits goes.

    Tonight when i get home i will edit the image to show where the big capacitor goes.

    Best of luck !

  • http://www.grvoices.com George Robinson

    I dont know where I’m going wrong here. I did it just like the diagram but not a single sound. HELP I could send a pic if it would help.

  • Dave

    Since this amp is mono, are you only listening to the left (or right) channel? So with hard panned instruments, I may not be able to hear the whole mix?

  • Miguel

    there are a lot of parts on the list but i only see a few on the diagram. can you please post another picture where EVERYTHING is labeled? :D

  • http://makeprojects.com Heather

    They’ve just posted this project on the new Make: Projects wiki site. It would be great if you could contribute your diagram to the project:
    http://makeprojects.com/Project/The-5-Cracker-Box-Amp/64/1

  • raymond

    good day maam/sir.. can you provide the back of the prototyping board? so we learners must not have to take mistakes.. i really need it for my porject.. please maam/sir.. :)