Have you ever wanted to know how to build an e-caller? In this step by step guide, we’ll review the items you need to build one and show you 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 electronic 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 to Build an E-Caller
- 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. Here’s a link to the 100 Watt Powerhorns that are extremely loud with the volume turned up.
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. They really are the best snow goose e-caller speakers available.
Pro Tip: Get your speakers up off the ground by fabricating an 8 inch metal stake that can be attached to the speaker bracket with nuts and bolts.
Step 7 – Power on Homemade E-Caller 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 and has battery terminals that will accept alligator clips. You could modify your set up to work with any battery though.
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.
Pro Tip: Get a battery tender like the Battery Tender Jr to fully charge your battery overnight.
Things to Consider When Building an Electronic Caller for Hunting
Building an electronic caller isn’t very difficult, but I’ve learned that there are some things that can make the process easier and more efficient. These are the top things to consider when building an e-caller.
- Pick a storage/carrying box for your e-caller that will fit your amp with room to spare. Be sure it’s also small enough so that you can hide it in the field.
- Use an Amp with 400 Watts. This is perfect wattage to project sound as loud as you need.
- 4 Channel Amp that can take up to 4 Speakers.
- RCA Cables that are 6-8ft. This allows you to control audio from further away.
- Solder all electrical connections for longer durability.
- Quality speakers that are at least 50 Watts each.
- A battery source that will last the length of your hunt. A 12 volt car battery will last several days of continuous use.
- Don’t skimp on the sounds you will be playing. A good e-caller is only as good as the quality of recording you use. These are the top snow goose sounds I’ve used that have worked great.
About E-Callers for Hunting
E-callers are effective tools used to produce sounds that attract game animals which can then be harvested. E-callers project recorded sound over long distances which entice animals to come closer to check it out.
Electronic Callers are commonly used for:
- Snow geese
Predator hunting with e-callers is an extremely popular hunting method. Using the sounds of prey in distress attracts predators such as coyotes and foxes to come check out what may be an easy meal.
E-Callers are also an important tool used in spring conservation hunts for snow geese. This special hunting season allows for electronic callers to be used in order to help control the overpopulation of snow geese.
E-callers for snow goose hunting playback recorded sound from other snow geese which can’t be replicated with hand held mouth calling. This added realism helps to bring mature snow geese that are difficult to harvest otherwise.
Crow hunting and raccoon hunting are other types of animals commonly hunted with the use of e-callers. Hunting with e-callers is a fun experience and in the right situations can be some of the best hunting you will ever find.
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 a homemade 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.
Building a homemade e-caller is centered around a good amp that can really push the sound out. A 4-channel amp will allow you to run 4 speakers so you can project the sound in any direction. Quality 50-100 watt big horn outdoor speakers compliment this setup really well and won’t get fuzzy when the volume is really cranking.
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 the plains of Texas. He has traveled extensively all over the world.