GDI beta report: “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”.

Still on chairs; ground is cold and wet in April!
The weather was unbelievably gorgeous on Saturday — better than I could have hoped for. An army* of intrepid beta-testers for the Guerilla Drive-In arrived, prepared to go to any extreme to work the kinks out of the hardware. Fortunately, the extreme turned out to be nothing worse than a chilly evening and a shortage of side dishes for the hamburgers.

Projector outdoors
For the most part, projecting Ferris Bueller outdoors went off without a hitch: the Navy tripod was rock-steady, the gas generator was adequate, quiet, and lasted through the movie on one tank of gas. The film didn’t break, and at no time did the projector erupt in evil-smelling flames. It turns out that my dad had never seen Ferris Bueller(!), so that was an added bonus.

The FM transmitter was a big disappointment — it only had a range of about 10 feet when hooked up to my ipod (even with fresh batteries.) It didn’t seem to work at all when accepting sound from the projector . Wrong kind of sound output? RF interference from the unshielded projector motor? I’d love to hear from anybody who knows how to make FM transmitters put out a signal in not-strictly-approved wattages. Kate’s dad also suggested an AM transmitter, which is a splendid idea seeing as how the sound is mono already.

But I think everything’s a go for next month. For that, I have three mysterious words for you: Cato’s Freezer Attack.

* Dear Nicole and Dave: now that you have seen what I have described as an “army” of intrepid beta-testers, I am afraid that you have a quantitative metric by which to adjust the grandiose claims made in other parts of this blog. Oh, well, I knew this day was coming.

UPDATE: A quick Google search on “AM transmitters” yielded instant results. Problem solved. Check out these links for the build-it-yourself “Li’l 7” transmitter: Oh, yes. Hell, yes. I have to order a glowing tube from a place called “Antique Electronic Supply“? Better and better. Attention, nerd world: I now have a reasonable excuse to attach a rubber whip antenna and glowing vacuum tubes to an ammo can.

GDI beta report: “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”.

Guerilla Drive-In almost ready to roll

I got my box of parts from John at KMR electronics, and proceeded to thread up the first reel of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, which arrived on Monday from Swank in Chicago. As it turns out, my Eiki RT-0 classroom projector, purchased on eBay, had more wrong with it than first appeared. However, I fixed it. Using motorcycle parts. I feel very badass. Yeah, I’m now a superbad AV geek.

So there’s only one showstopper remaining before trying things out this weekend. There’s a quarter-inch speaker jack on the projector: I’m hoping that I can just adapt that to my low-power FM transmitter, and that it will automagically all just work. But I’m feeling pretty good about things; this weekend’s showing is likely to be too cold for enjoyment, but it will be at least an end-to-end test of the whole Guerilla Drive-In shebang: projector, tripod, transmitter, generator. If you’re reading this and you want to come, hit the “contact me” link above for an invite!

Guerilla Drive-In almost ready to roll

“Simple as dirt.” Color-coded Teutonic electro-dirt, that is.

After a year under a tarp in a driveway, my 1977 BMW motorcycle is (very Germanically) requiring me to prove my dedication before permitting me to ride to the train station in the morning. Now that the brakes are sorted, the headlight is acting odd. There are two switches that drive the headlights; one that allows you to turn the headlight on or off during the day; another to select the high/low/passing beam. Different combinations of switches provide different, puzzling (and very much not standard) results; it’s like a game of Mastermind with accidental blasts on the horn to liven things up. And, sometimes, blue sparks when I short things.

Fortunately, the Airheads list continues to be a fount of wisdom from people who see Airhead wiring diagrams on the backs of their eyelids when they go to sleep at night, and they’ve been giving me plenty of advice. For example, an airhead named Joe ‘Cuda says:

>> It’s dirt simple. Juice (+) comes from the battery via a Red wire to the Relay 30, out Relay 87 via a Yellow/White wire to the switch, to the headlight via a Yellow (Low) or White (High) wire, and then to ground via a Brown wire.

While that doesn’t really fit my description of “dirt simple”, the instructions I’ve been getting have been helping me to sort out the electrical connections. It’s a definite contrast to pushing pixels for a living: while it may look like a rat’s nest inside the headlight shell at first, it resolves to a rational (if complex) system of color-coded wires, each bit of which can be individually checked with a multimeter. So I think I’ve got it narrowed down to a bad headlight relay, which means another call to the Amazon of BMW parts.

Update: Just to fully illustrate the detailed, descriptive, and entertaining nature of the help the Airheads provide, here’s the response I got this morning from “Airhead John”:

Nice photos! I can see what you were talking about. In the first photo the headlight shell looks quite clean and the wiring and fuses look to be in good condition.

In the second photo I agree that the mystery wires are going to the turn signals. Rather than fuses, it looks like 2 into 1 connections. I imagine a previous owner (we’ll call him Sparky) put on an ugly fairing of some sort and spliced into the stock turn signal wires to hook up the fairing turn signals. When the next owner (we’ll call him Rico Suavay) bought the bike he wanted the wind blowing through his hair, so he took off Sparky’s ugly fairing and stuffed the turn signal extensions into the headlight. You don’t need that stuff. I would return it to stock. It appears Sparky snipped off the spade connectors on the blue/red and blue/black turn signal wires and crimped on his yellow bodges. If you leave it like you found it, it
won’t hurt anything (except my feelings).

In the third photo, the yellow/white (gelb/weiss) wire should be getting power with the ignition on. It supplies the headlight switch. Although the headlight relay and all the connections look quite clean, they do fail after a few decades. I concur with your diagnosis of a faulty headlight relay.

Good work.

I swear, can you imagine getting this much and this quality of help in other aspects of life?

“Simple as dirt.” Color-coded Teutonic electro-dirt, that is.