We didn’t even pause for a second when offered a chance to tour Mr. Jalopy’s studio. Even if it meant a 600 mile roundtrip, we’d be there. You’ll probably recognize Mr. Jalopy as the author of Hoopty Rides and as a frequent Make Magazine contributor know for his giant iPod and guerilla projector. Dorkbot SoCal organized a studio tour so that fellow hackers could pick up some of the Hoopty Rides secret sauce.
Mr. Jalopy spent a long time searching for his shop. He wanted a site that he could work in, but was self-sufficient. The location is paid for by a small retail shop upstairs plus a freeway visible billboard. It’s and old car repair shop with two bays and some interesting quirks like 400hp water break dynamometer (gauges at top) and an old hydraulic lift designed just for cars with solid rear axles. He got a unused second Clayton 200hp dynamometer (above) for cheap and plans on combining the two to hopefully get a nice functional unit.
He pointed out the boombox TV he had built stating that it was the subject of an upcoming article. It won’t be about the construction of the boombox though; the article is about Boombox: The Platform. He’s quite fond of picking up boomboxes at garage sales because of what you get: an AC/DC converter, a battery holder, amplifier, speakers, lots of switches, buttons, and knobs, all for $1 and a nice box to boot. The monitor for this one was the cheap PSOne flip up screens we’ve mentioned before. The tuner is a fairly versatile and is designed for car use.
A common theme was was that Mr. Jalopy doesn’t feel he knows how to do a lot of stuff, but that doesn’t matter because he can manage by doing things he does know. Take the giant iPod for example. The big attraction is that the old console radio’s buttons actually control the iPod. He didn’t get hung up wondering how he was going to send the iPod commands over the serial interface; he just bought an AirClick and soldered wires directly to the board. Other good advice: Don’t half-ass, build it so it lasts. Also, build in adjustment since you won’t get it perfect the first time.
A minor attraction that I found very interesting was his Curta calculator. The Curta was invented by Curt Herzstark during WWII while he was a prisoner in a concentration camp and was popular up to the 70s. The side has 11 single digit sliders on screw shafts. Turning the crank on the top a full rotation adds the side number to the top result display. It also subtracts and does many more complex operations. Here’s a flash demo of the device.
I’ll add photo links as the come in, but for now you can view Garnet Hertz’s, COOP’s, and mine. Also, look for the tour on a future episode of BoingBoingTV (not Make:TV, I don’t think that’s been announced yet ;-)
We’d like to thank Dorkbot SoCal, Mr. Jalopy, and all the people we met for the wonderful experience.
UPDATE: Tim Odell’s photos.