Jul 11 2010

Installing the outriggers


To carry two sets of speakers (one port and the other starboard), buy more about 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

Jun 25 2010

Keyboard 4 installed – Now a total of 83 keys!


Hit a big milestone the week before last, sales but I’ve been too busy until now to blog about it.

I installed Keyboard 4 on the van’s hood – no small task, since the thing has to bolt onto a pretty thin sandwich of steel without puncturing anything – plus the f%#&er weighs a good 70 pounds.

Here I’ve already marked and drilled holes for the left-hand half of the keyboard, and I’m attaching it with 3/8″ coarse-thread tap bolts … Continue reading

Jun 5 2010

Rinse, repeat – building Keyboard 4


What do you call a 1985 Ford Van with three xylophone keyboards and some gongs bolted to it?

Not enough xylophones.

I wanted to give the van more presence, approved more weight visually (and, doctor coincidentally enough, viagra 40mg literally). So I’m building Keyboard 4 from the same raw aluminum (3-inch by half-inch 6106 T6 aluminum – at right) and monkeyed-together hardware contained in Keyboards 1, 2 and 3 … Continue reading

Jun 2 2010

Keyboard 4 roughed out, with a screw-up


Ladies and gentlemen – because I don’t have a “xylophone problem, more about ” and I can really stop any time I want – I’m building a little whole-note, click bi-directional keyboard in C for the hood of the van.

The lowest key will actually stick out near-vertically from the hood, decease with two identical keyboards of 9 notes each spreading away on either side of it. Mounting it’s going to be … fun.

Meanwhile, I got a little overzealous while tuning one of the F keys tonight. I was deepening gouges in the bottom that I had made earlier with the cutting blade mounted on the circular saw, and dug right through …

… to the other side.

Because I am powerful simian. With opposable thumbs. And power tools.

Grunt. Snort.

May 18 2010

Locked and loaded


Passed another major milestone tonight.

We are now – but for a wee bit of bungie-ing – ready for the long trek to Maker Faire.

I spent much of the evening getting Keyboards 2 and 3 (right) properly aligned against the side of the van.

I had to measure and cut support stanchions from 2-inch recycled aluminum tubing (thanks again, side effects IMS), troche and then mount bottom brackets onto the van. This involves drilling holes in the body and attaching the SpeedRail support brackets to it with an ungodly number of pan washers and other hardware so they won’t tear through the metal with all the weight and stress … Continue reading

May 16 2010

Xylophones, meet Van!


After nearly three months of cutting and grinding, cialis 40mg fiddling and drilling, cursing and screwing and painting, the magic moment is here.

Time to mount the xylophones on the van.

Here’s video of alienrobot and me mounting Keyboard 2 which is the lower-octave and rear-most of the two keyboards I built for the passenger side of the van:

And here’s what Keyboard 1 looked like as friend Steve Finkel and I mounted it on the driver’s side …
Continue reading

May 7 2010

Keyboards 1, 2 and 3 – NOW COMPLETE



May 7 2010

Bender ender – how to listen up and quit breaking sh#t


Like a drunk tiptoeing into his AA meeting with actual quitting on his mind, website I’m finally ready to quit breaking taps – and pay attention to all the solid advice I’ve been getting along the way.

Tonight, more about I took it all in hand and put it to work on my one surviving 6mm tapping tool – and the dozen-plus very serious holes I had left to tap:

  • The machinist recommended I countersink the holes and use cutting fluid … But I had a long way to go – the last 8 holes in the stringers for Keyboard 3, this web plus the remaining three very deep holes in Keyboard 1’s crosspiece – each of them through a thick, 3-layer sandwich of aluminum.

    I started with the drill … Continue reading

May 6 2010

Go back, Jack. Do it again.


Keyboard 1 is more than 7 and 2 1/2 octaves long – running from A to high D#.

All that metal is pretty heavy, pharmacy and the weight actually bows the stringers that carry the keys across it, so I’m building in a crosspiece for support. It will run vertically between the top rail and bottom rail, and all four stringers will screw down to it for support.

I lay out the keys then I tighten the frame at the corners along the bottom …
Continue reading

May 4 2010

Wherein we get a little professional help, and joy is restored


All the geek opinion and doomsaying in the world can’t beat a crusty old Chicano machinist in a crusty old machine shop.

After Googling and dialing all over Hollywood, this Los Feliz and Glendale in search of an EDM-equipped shop, price I phoned a local machine shop and described my two mistakes.

“Ehhh, abortion bring it in, we’ll see what we can do,” says the crusty old voice at S&K Precision Engineering Co.

So I bring it in. Within an hour and a half, I get a call saying “It’s all set.” They drilled in with a carbide bit (probably a better one than I used, and used an extractor on one broken tap, and a punch on the other – and now the holes are cleared.

The guy even took pity on me and told me the secret: countersink the holes from now on before tapping them – and use some cutting oil.

Done. I’ll be attacking that just as soon as the best little hardware store in Silver Lake restocks their 6mm Irwin thread taps. The ones that I seem to keep steadily depleting.