Have you ever wanted to know how to make an e-caller? In this step by step guide, we’ll review the items you need to build one and how to put it together. Don’t worry, it’s easy and you probably already have a lot of the items you need laying around the house.
Whether it’s for spring snow geese or predator calling, an e-caller is an essential item for a successful hunt. I’ve always purchased store bought e-callers in the past, but I was often disappointed either with the low volume or the high price. So I decided to build my own e-caller and it has worked EXTREMELY well so far. Not only is it louder than every e-caller I’ve ever used, but it cost me less to make than I had ever imagined (around $100!!!). I’ve put together this guide to help you build your next e-caller, including tips I’ve learned along the way.
Here are the list of items you will need to build an e-caller similar to the one I’ve had so much success with and a step by step guide on how to put it together.
List of Items You Will Need
- Storage Box – ($10)
- 400 Watt Amp – ($39)
- iPod Shuffle – ($49)
- Inline Audio Amplifier – ($29)
- 100 Watt Power Horn Speakers – ($39)
- 6ft RCA to Headphone Cable – ($6)
- (10ft) 12 Gauge Wire – ($9)
- (100ft) 18 Gauge Speaker Wire – ($10)
- (2) Wire Relay Connectors – ($4)
- Wire Connectors – ($2)
- Electrical Tape – ($2)
- 12 volt Battery – ($30)
Keep in mind this cost estimate doesn’t take into consideration any of these items that you may already have. You can use your phone to play the audio, thus removing the need to purchase an iPod Shuffle. And you probably have an extra battery lying around you can use as well.
I was able to make this e-caller for under $100 just because I already had a lot of these items on hand.
How to Make an E-caller – Step by Step (with Pictures)
Here is a step by step guide on how to build an e-caller with some tips I’ve learned along the way. If you have all the items you need, it should take you less than an hour to fully build it.
Step 1 – Find a Storage Box that Will Fit Your Amp
The first step to building an e-caller is finding out which amp you’re going to use. It’s the lifeblood of the system and what’s going to get the volume really cranking. Luckily I had an extra 400 watt Pioneer amp that I had taken out of a vehicle I wasn’t using and it turned out to be the perfect size for what I needed. If you don’t have an amp already, I like this one as a cheap option.
I then found a small plastic tool box that was relatively waterproof and made sure there was enough internal space to fit the amp and wiring. I settled on a low profile Stanley tool box and gave it a quick shot of green spray paint to cover up the yellow accents that it came with.
Step 2 – Mount the Amp Inside Your Carrying Case
Once you have your amp and carrying case picked out, it’s time to make sure the amp stays stationary when it’s being transported. I cut two pieces of 2×4 and laid them length wise along the bottom of the box. I then secured the amp to the 2x4s by placing screws in all four corners.
Make sure to center the amp in the case since this will give you the most room on either end for connecting the wires. If you want to run the speaker or power wires in a certain direction, this is the time to position it how you want it.
Getting the amp up off the bottom of the box will help keep it dry. As you can see in the pictures, I did drop the box one morning which landed upside down and water did get inside. I was able to drain it quickly and nothing was damaged thanks to the amp being mounted securely to the 2×4’s.
Step 3 – Hook up Power and Control Wires to Amp
One side of your amp will have a connection for positive power and negative ground, as well as a system control port. I used heavy duty 12 gauge wire to run my power connections to the battery. The opposite end of the battery leads have clamps attached which make it easy to attach to the battery terminals. You can even install a switch inline with the positive battery wire and mount it on the outside of the box to be able to turn the e-caller on and off quickly.
The system control port is EXTREMELY important and should not be overlooked. In fact, the e-caller won’t work if you don’t have it wired correctly. The control port wire needs to be in line with the positive battery cable. I attached the two at the opposite end, but you could connect it to the positive battery terminal separately as well.
Pro Tip: Solder the ends of your wires to prevent fraying and help insure a better connection.
Step 4 – Install Wire Relays for External Speaker Wire Connection
The e-caller box I chose came with two storage compartments located on the top of the lid. I used one of these storage areas to mount two speaker relay connectors so I could hook up speaker wires externally without having to open the box.
I took a 2 inch circular drill bit and cut out two holes for the wire relays. They fit perfectly and I secured both of them with screws. I then ran 14 gauge speaker wire from the speaker connections on the amp to these relays. Now I don’t ever have to open the box to connect my speakers!
Pro Tip: Use rubber washers or silicone the edges of the relay brackets to make a water tight seal.
Step 5 – Plug in RCA Cable to Amp, iPod, and Audio Booster
Now that the amp is mounted and wired, we need to set up the audio connection that we’ll be sending to it. Your amp will have two RCA ports which are colored red and white. You will need an RCA Adapter with 2 male ends that run to a 3.5mm headphone jack. If you don’t already have one, here’s a cheap option that works well.
The RCA cable will be plugged into your amp and the 3.5mm jack will be plugged into an inline audio amplifier. The audio amplifier boosts the volume considerably and is a must have to make the e-caller as loud as can be. I use the Boostaroo audio amplifier.
From the audio amplifier, simply connect your audio device (iPod shuffle, smartphone, etc.) with a 3.5mm male to male headphone jack. I recommend using an iPod shuffle since it’s easy to hide, relatively cheap, and you don’t have to waste the battery on your phone.
Step 6 – Run Speaker Wire to Desired Locations
For this step you’ll need an outdoor speaker and 14 gauge to 18 gauge speaker wire. Depending on how many channels your amp has, you can run anywhere from two to four speakers at a time. My amp has 4 speaker channels and I run (2) 100 watt Powerhorn speakers with 10-15 feet of speaker wire so I can place them away from box and in any direction.
I wouldn’t recommend any speakers below 50 watts since the distortion increases at high volume levels. If you’re aiming to build an e-caller that’s as loud as possible, stick to 100 watt speakers.
Step 7 – Power on Everything to Test
The last step is powering on the e-caller to test if everything is working correctly. Any 12 volt battery will work as long as it’s fully charged.
If I’m going to be hunting snow geese most of the day, I will take a 12 volt car battery to make sure I have enough power for 6 or more hours. For shorter hunts, a smaller lawnmower battery or sealed 12v battery will work just fine and can be concealed inside the e-caller box.
Building an e-caller is a great alternative to buying expensive store bought setups that really aren’t all that impressive for what you get. Most of the items needed to build an e-caller you may have around the house already, considerably cutting costs. I was able to build my e-caller for less than $100 and it’s the loudest e-caller I’ve ever used and the sound quality is great too.
If you are thinking about an e-caller for spring snows or predator hunting, consider building one yourself. It’s easy to do and you’ll have a caller that most can only dream of.
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John is our resident expert on the outdoors. He writes about outdoor gear, camping, traveling, and anything outdoors related. He has over 20 years experience camping and hiking the backwoods of Montana and has traveled extensively all over the world.