At the top of my list for new gear needed this year was a new e-caller. Technically for snow geese, I will not call it a snow goose call as I have in the past used my other caller for coyotes (with limited success, I might add)
My old call was a convoluted affair of a open cab tractor fender mount weather resistant stereo. Hooked up to a 12 volt battery along with my old 2nd gen ipod nano with transmitter it worked for a few years, but this year I realized it had lost a lot of sound volume and quality and it was time for an upgrade.
I toyed around with the idea of building a new call completely from the ground up and was searching the internet for plans and components. I realized my knowledge of car stereo systems and amps and all that was very limited and was unsure of what wattage of speakers needed what kind of amp, etc. Reviews on some products said that some products were not the numbers that they advertised, which made me a little wary. But then, I stumbled across this: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=0VU-004D-00027
This fully portable PA speaker with built in amp was only $50. It will run off of AC power (I would need areally long extension cord when in the field…) or 12volt DC (much more practical…) Takes 1/4″ audio input, the only thing needed to run this with an ipod was an adapter from 3.5mm audio plug to 1/4″ audio plug. It even has USB and SD ports in it and will play files off them. It also has plugs to run another speaker off of it. For $50, this was a no brainer, my amp and speaker were already paired together, in a somewhat weatherproof form, easy to hook up the audio to, easy to run another speaker off of and ran on 12 volt power.
I ordered it and was fairly happy with it. One of the 1/4″ inputs is not very loud, not sure if mine is defective a bit or if that’s the way it should be. I only need one plug, so it’s irrelevant. It is very loud!! Audio quality isn’t awesome, but I don’t imagine its any worse than any other PA speaker out there.
I got a 12 volt motorcycle size battery and built myself a box from some leftover treated plywood. I wanted to fully enclose the battery if possible and put charging posts on the outside of the case. (too hard to get the battery charger on the battery posts on my old caller) I also built it to angle the speaker a little bit up so its not totally horizontal.
With a couple bolts and 4 chunks of wire I was able to wire the battery to the speaker, make posts to charge it, and wire it to those posts. I put the speaker in place (after a bit of coaxing, the cord for the AC plug on the speaker was able to be stored inside the speaker) and finished assembling the box. I painted it white and tried it out and everything worked fine. I added a couple of handles and its good to go. I will get another PA speaker for it and make a mount for storing it and some wire. I also need to make a flap or something to cover the charging posts so that it doesn’t short out on something
So the plan is to run it with one of my ipods on a 50 ft aux cable so I can control the volume from wherever I am in the spread. I’m sure I could go with a remote of some kind, but then there is more cost added. I’ll try it with the long aux cord in the spring and if we have problems, then I’ll deal with it. I’m not completely confident that this thing is weather proof, on a rainy day I will likely wrap it up in a plastic bag to keep water from getting into it.
Total cost in this caller so far:
$50 for the speaker
$35 for the battery
lumber was scrap I had laying around
$3 in electrical supplies
the ipods I have laying around that I don’t use anymore.
$17 for the aux cable and adapter
If I buy another speaker and wire for that speaker it will add about another $30 to $40