From a Truck Trailer to a Mobile Workshop


If you’re a seasoned hacker, you might find you need a portable workshop, because every moment away from home you feel a bit naked without access to all your tools and machines. It’s a bit of an older project that we’re quite surprised we never covered, but without further ado let us introduce you to [Steven Roberts'] Polaris Project trailer!

[Steven] is quite the seasoned hacker. In 1983, he took a 17,000 mile journey across America on a technology equipped bicycle — a very impressive feat at the time — seriously you won’t regret watching his video about it.

Anyway, fast forward to 2010, and [Steven] was invited to explain his new project on Make — with detailed build instructions! The 24′ mobile workshop utility trailer features thousands of electronic parts, cabinets filled with both hand and power tools, welders, a CNC router, a 2kW generator, a solar array, AGM battery backups, a ham radio, dedicated computer, soldering equipment, microscopes and more. It is quite literally packed to the gills with an amazing variety of tools.

The picture here doesn’t do it justice, so we recommend you check it out for yourself!

Is anyone planning on making their own mobile workshop? We don’t know about you, but we are now!

[via Toolmonger]


  1. Nammar Gatzi says:

    If I’m a seasoned hacker what?

  2. Hal H says:

    When I first read “Truck Trailer” I thought you meant a 53′ Semi trailer that was loaded. Either way, very spiffy.

  3. fartface says:

    I have seen guys expand on this a LOT with the Micro-house designs instead of using a covered utility trailer like that. A old camper would also work a bit better if you did not need the fold down roll something big in doorway. In fact it would be nicer as you could have heat/cooling as well as screens to keep bugs out.

    Plus having a place to sleep for the marathon 48 hour hacking sessions would be a major plus.

  4. cooperised says:

    Hehehe, ‘quite literally packed to the gills’… quite literally, trailers do not have gills.

    However, gills or not, this is cool and I want one.

  5. justice099 says:

    Not mobile, but I have been looking at one of those shipping containers to convert to a workshop, possibly even two.

    • Trav says:

      I have thought of a UPS or “Lay’s Chip” type truck or even an old RV trailer stripped of its beds and other unnecessary furnishings. Even an old Ambulance would make a nice portable workshop.

      • Ren says:

        Milk/Bread truck with a fold up bunk and 19″ rack bolted to the top and bottom. I didn’t see a source of heat, maybe a woodstove should be added? My F-I-L has an old delivery van on his farm. (20′ box?) but it needs a transmission.

        • justice099 says:

          These are all called “Box Trucks.” I see them on craigslist all the time.

          My needs aren’t mobile and living in the city, I can’t “store” vehicles on my property. Otherwise an old school bus would work as well. Those seem to be rotting all over the place just outside my city.

      • MrFluffy says:

        The advantage to having it as a towing trailer is you can drop it off the tow vehicle at a friends place where it can be secure, and go off and explore in the tow vehicle without worry.

  6. Sam Twibill says:

    Sorry, but it should be “ado”, not “adieu”.
    The first means fuss, bother etc
    The latter; so-long, farwell.

    That aside, I’ve got to get me one of these!

  7. Ren says:

    I “saw” [Steven] at ComDex 1989 along with Winnibiko. He was surrounded by people, I didn’t bother to bother him.

  8. Ren says:

    I think the mountain climber’s utility van featured a couple weeks ago should be linked to this article.

  9. voxnulla says:

    The planet mechanics did something like this for their, unfortunately, short lived TLC show. I can watch Dick Strawbridge build stuff for hours.

  10. rue_mohr says:

    too bad there isn’t more layout detail, I’d like to know how the drawrs are stocked. I’v been to a few estate sales and such and noticed that, to a degree, we all seem to end up with a similar method of organizing parts.

  11. philpro says:

    i hope i find some time todo a write up about my mobile hacker space :)…sometimes its good to see you are not the “only one” haha. great project.

  12. Heisenberg says:

    I did something like this, although it was more of a giant Chemistry set, and it was far more profitable.

  13. Jason Coutu (@jcoutu) says:

    Page four is badly linked… so here it is:

  14. Doug Bostrom says:

    It’s worth checking out Steven’s boats, too:

    Don’t miss the microship:

  15. SeaDog says:

    Dude must have never served aboard a ship at sea.
    Per one of the posters on his site, hit a few good size
    waves (er, potholes) , and all those drawers will be
    spilling their contents on the deck of that trailer….
    anything else not “battened down” will be toast on
    rough roads.

  16. vonskippy says:

    This guy had a specific (if somewhat bizarre) reason for needing a mobile workshop, but I can’t imagine there’s that many other hackers/makers that NEED such a limited setup.

    A workshop in a building will always be better equipped, better powered, have more space, have more inventory, have better security, cost less to build and maintain and insure, plus it won’t get into traffic accidents.

    Even if you don’t currently have space in your house or garage, it would be way cheaper (and better) to build a shed.

    Besides, the mobile workshop is just half the equation, do you have a beefy truck to pull it around? Do you have the mega bucks to fuel it?

    Mobile workshops are very common in the construction biz, so I’m not sure why all the drooling. I’ll keep my glorified garden shed out back, and not suffer any mobile-workshop-envy.

    • MrFluffy says:

      Your not forced to build one instead of a fixed workshop if you have one already, for me it makes logical sense to build a cut down one for mobile use.
      I have a towing box trailer I’m currently equipping as a small mechanical workshop. Small compressor, tiny bandsaw and a vice, some led lighting, a small inverter with lesuire battery etc. I have to keep lots of the space free for the main reason for it (drag bike). The idea is, I tow the bike inside it with the required stuff to support it trackside. If anything very major happens I shovel the remains into a box and do the involved stuff back at base, but basic stuff I need it to hand.

    • Randy says:

      Apartment dwellers. This is perfect for someone like me who currently has no place for band/tablesaws, large assembly tables etc. I just had an epiphany, I could have paid for a small enclosed utility trailer or a trashed/gutted RV trailer for what I’ve already spent on a storage unit, kept it in our large item lot and wheeled it right next to the building whenever I needed to work on something for a few days.

    • static says:

      Here why mobile workshop is on my mind often What ever I ever make will be garden shed on wheels. My helyh and financial situation is that I may be g force to give up my rural property with 30×30 shop. I don’t intend to cram 900 sg. ft. into as little 82-170 sq. ft.. I’ll have to limit myself to as little as 7000 lb. My hope is to include my air compressor ac/dc arc welder, bench grinder, drill press. A sturdy bench to mount my good machinist vise on. My Craftsman table saw isn’t very heavy and in may travel too, but it’s a space hog. as is the metal cutting band saw is a space hog as well, however it too heavy to travel.

  17. static says:

    Some years back Steve Roberts was hauling BEHEMOTH down I70 in my part of Kansas enroute to the Dayton Hamvention. I couldn’t speak to him because I was at work, but the conversation he was having with another amateur radio operator over the local repeater was interesting to eavesdropping on. Sounded like that Steve was giving the other person a one one on presentation similar what he was going to say to a larger audience in Dayton. IMO a school bus would be great plat form for mobile workshop. Second to one built on a tandem axle gooseneck low boy trailer with nice tow vehicle.

  18. Jordan says:

    Our house has an attached shed and I really need more space. A mobile workshop sounds like a great idea to me.

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