Building Outdoor Airplay Speakers

For better or for worse, our house’s sound system is based on Apple’s Airplay system. We have Homepods in most rooms and it works great.

When I wanted to have music on our outdoor porch, however, I couldn’t find any options. Apple doesn’t sell an outdoor Homepod, and the only thing I could find off the shelf that used Airplay and was weatherproof was a portable speaker — not quite what I had in mind.

So I decided to build my own.

An Airport Express will turn any speaker into a wireless Airplay speaker. But Airport Express units aren’t waterproof, so you need a weatherproof enclosure for it.

Here is what I built:

You need:

  • An Airport Express. Apple doesn’t sell these anymore, but they are available on ebay for about $65, and probably at your local used electronics store for cheaper.
  • A mini amplifier. This one is cheap, about the size of a credit card but half an inch tall, and works great. It has bluetooth but I’m not using it.
  • A power supply for the amplifier. Note that the amplifier looks like it comes with a power supply (based on the amazon pictures) but it doesn’t. Finding one that was compatible was the hardest part; I wasn’t aware that power supplies came in “center negative” or “center positive” configurations — this amp needed “center positive.” This linked power supply will work with this amplifier.
  • A short male-to-male headphone cable, to connect the Airport Express to the amplifier. I had one in a drawer.
  • Some speaker wire.
  • A weatherproof box to hold everything. These come in several sizes. The size that fits all of the above is the 7.9 inch by 6.1 inch size.
  • Speakers! Choose your own; I got these Yamaha outdoor ones.

The finished product:

Concealed behind a plant:

And playing Beck’s best song along with all the other speakers in the house:

I hope this helps you. I’m happy to answer any questions you have.

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