Aug 2 2010

Wiring port – get the juice out

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I started out thinking, “Oh, I’ll just run wires for all the external light and sound equipment in through one of the windows whenever we set up.”

Then I got a load of the number of wires and connectors this would entail – 16 two-pole wires just from the four speaker booms and the lights mounted there, alone – and came up with a better idea … Continue reading


Jul 23 2010

Backsides and elbows

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Looking back on it, the past couple weeks have been an utter blur.

After all this, and seeing all the tasks remaining (wiring, lights, instruments, sunshades, roof deck) between now and Burning Man, I have to admit that having our DMV application denied was the very best thing that could have happened to us.

So much to do, so little time, as Dean Motter’s Mister X was wont to say.

So here’s all the crazy work we’ve been up to, compressed into one massively overdue blog post:

We started in on replacing the headliner … Continue reading


Jul 12 2010

XyloVan clears its throat – Hello, World!

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I finally figured this out:

A pressure-zone microphone turns out to be the best solution for miking the keyboards on XyloVan.
Continue reading


Jul 11 2010

Installing the outriggers

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To carry two sets of speakers (one port and the other starboard), I’m installing pipes of 3/4-inch galvanized steel conduit onto the roof rack, by means of these custom-built brackets …

Standard conduit clamps grip the brackets to the big honkin’ roof rack and the pipes slip through these to be screwed down … Continue reading


Jul 11 2010

Fabricating the control pod

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There are two reasons for building a moveable command panel for the sound and light controls:

A) I’d like to be able to control the sound and lights from outside the van (so I can tell whether my knob-twiddling is having any effect. and B) I want to make the whole thing removable so that I can lock the van and take the junkie-bait with me whenever I park for a while.

An old Makita power-drill box is the perfect candidate for this. It’s made of blow-moulded plastic, so it’s designed to take a beating. And with a little modification, it will accommodate the mixer, all the patch cords that come in and out, and even a little switch-panel for various light circuits.

I Dremel out some of the box’s lining, which was form-fitting for a Makita power drill but would otherwise clamp down on the mixer’s knobs and jacksContinue reading


Jul 11 2010

Huevos sonicos

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If the xylophones are XyloVan’s skeleton and soul, then the sound system is its gonads.

To add some mystique to the aluminum’s natural resonance, we’re hooking up a cheap Pep Boys amplifier to the auxiliary power system, flying a quartet of cheap bookshelf speakers on outrigger booms (about which more later) and feeding them mike signals via a Behringer Xenyx digital-delay mixer. We haven’t quite figured out the microphones yet (well – more about that later).

But we have to install the components somewhere slightly out of the way yet still accessible so I can futz and troubleshoot from one location if anything goes south with the sound or lighting … Continue reading


Jun 25 2010

We need MORE POWER – wiring XyloVan’s auxiliary battery

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After weeks (okay, months) of building instruments, doing bodywork, making mallets and generally getting XyloVan into shape, it’s finally time to give it a pulse. How? Auxiliary big-ass battery.

The battery’s going to have to power the amplification system and the lights while we’re out roving the playa – or more importantly while we’re parked and people are playing for hours on end.

First thing you need is a really, really, really long battery cable. There’s no room for this huge deep-cycle marine battery in the engine compartment or anywhere near it.

The longest battery jumper cables made are only 20 feet, so I have to splice a couple of them together and somehow route them from the main battery in the engine bay, down beneath the truck, around the engine mount and driveshaft and exhaust pipes – and rearward to a place somewhere under the second row of bench seats because that’s where the auxiliary battery will be. And that means weather- and abrasion-proofing the cables – and that means cutting up some old inner tubes to serve as conduit and insulation … Continue reading