Ancient Spirits of Nerdery, I summon you!

Spirits of Old-School Nerdery, lend me your power! From your cinderblocked halls, glowing with the green light of oscilloscope displays, I summon you! From your recumbent bikes, I summon you! I need your Ancient Skills of Electrical Engineering! Please comment this post!

Here are my challenges, O wise ones:

Stepping down DC Power from 18v to 12 and 3v:
The MacGuffin — the AM transmitter that broadcasts the Sekrit Code you need to sign up for Guerilla Drive-In updates — has three components, all of which go in a waterproof (and therefore poorly vented) plastic box:

  • An AM transmitter (requires 18vdc),
  • A Sony Sports Walkman (requires 3vdc. I think. Two AA batteries end-to-end. That’s 3vdc, right?) with a 6-minute endless loop tape in it, and
  • A red radio-shack panel light on the front (claims to be 12vdc).

I want to power everything off of just ONE wall wart, which will live outside the box, and pass in the power through a jack mounted in the box (already done.) I own an 18vdc wall wart, a 12vdc wall wart, and a car adapter that can step 12vdc down to 3vdc. Could I power the transmitter on the 18v wall wart, and also step down the power to 3v for the sports walkman? How would I do that? Just by soldering some resistors into a small Radio Shack project box? Would that end up generating a lot of heat? When you live in a medium-sized town like West Chester, where could you go to get that done? Do you call a small mom-and-pop TV repair shop? How about the 12v light? If I give it 18v, will it explode, or will it just be a little brighter and live a little shorter? Helllllllp!

Attenuating speaker-level output
The 16MM projector has a quarter-inch jack on the front that is used to drive an auxiliary speaker. If I just use an adapter to adapt that to an eighth-inch stereo jack, then plug that into a transmitter, I’m assuming the signal is too… something. Powerful? Does anyone know how to, er… “attenuate” what’s coming out of that quarter-inch jack labeled “speaker”, and make it so it’s… good… for putting into the “audio in” RCA jack in the back of a transmitter? Here’s a picture of the speaker jack from the projector, if it helps any. Does anyone know how do to this, or know what dongle I should get?

Thank you, O Spirits! I will leave a basket of capacitors and a crimping tool under the candles for you.

UPDATE: O spirits, thank you for your replies! I will indeed look into buying voltage convertors from Tyco, since they seem to actually, er… convert the voltage, not just turn the extra voltage into heat in a resistor. Also, I’ll just be taking the wires that go to the battery box in the walkman and wiring the power into that, so the walkman is expecting 3V…?

Ancient Spirits of Nerdery, I summon you!

First GDI showing went well!

You can read more about the the Guerilla Drive-In Showing of “Pillow Talk” here. I had a great time, nothing dangerous and/or expensive exploded, and I’m looking forward to the next one!

Meanwhile, I’m thinking about showings coming up and OH MY SAINTED AUNT we will TOTALLY have one with a giant refrigerator-box castle involved somehow:

Refrigerator box castle!!!
Mr. McGroovy’s Refrigerator Box Castle Plans, via BoingBoing

Now to think of the perfect movie that goes with a giant refrigerator-box castle. Or that goes with the simultaneous construction of a refrigerator-box castle. Or that goes with the sudden destruction of a refrigerator box castle by a sidecar rig traveling at speed.

This also might be one viable way around the bizarre Disney requirement that no Disney movie be shown outdoors from May through the end of August (no lie! I have no idea why, either!) I’ll just put on the 16MM rental form under “Venue:” Le Ancièn Chateau de Corrugué Enfrigidèur. Oh, yes, it’s been in my family ever since its construction… earlier today.

Any suggestions for good giant-corrugated-castle movies?

First GDI showing went well!

Guerilla Drive-In first 2007 showing tomorrow night

Making Movies Inconvenient Again! I’m (mostly) all ready to go for the Guerilla Drive-In’s first showing of 2007 tomorrow night. Which is actually the first showing since 2005; last year, things just never got off the ground.

Thanks to Harold Ross’s awesome photograph, the MacGuffin made it to uber-blog BoingBoing on Tuesday, so there was a flurry of (really nice and enthusiastic) e-mails from people that want to come. Hurrah!

Also, thanks to Chris Smith’s donation of five-minute one-reel educational short “Families”, I was able to verify that the projector does, in fact, still work after its 18-month hiatus, and that it still is noisy as hell, and it still makes that awesome hot-grease elevator-shaft smell.

All in all, it’s about 75 pounds of stuff not counting the heavy wooden tripod. That’s about 74 pounds and 15 ounces more than a Netflix DVD. “The Guerilla Drive-In: Making Movies Inconvenient Again!

Click on the photo to see details of the heap of gear.

Guerilla Drive-In first 2007 showing tomorrow night

Announcing The International Federation for the Betterment of John Young

So when your name is “John Young”, there’s a lot of you out there. Why, as a kid, there were no less than FOURTEEN “John Youngs” in the suburban church we attended. Four of them even shared my middle initial. A Google search for “John Young” returns 161 million results. LinkedIn has more John Youngs than you could shake a stick at. I am John Young, and I am legion.

Famous John Youngs are John Young the Astronaut and John Young the classified-intelligence activist. Also, there’s John Young the musician from Liverpool.

Oh dear sweet Jesus, and let’s not overlook new Internet arrival John Young, Environmental Consultant, in Australia, who has the BEST BIO PICTURE IN THE HISTORY OF THE INTERNET OR ANY OTHER COMMUNICATION MEDIUM:


Okay, so that covers the famous John Youngs. But that’s not the end of it.

Since my personal email address is john dot young at gmail dot com, I get all sorts of email intended for other John Youngs. Especially since any combination of “john DOT” or “john UNDERSCORE” sent to Gmail will still reach me. Every week, I get emails like (I am not making these up):

  • Adventure John Young: Congratulating me on my recent completion of a sailing trip all the way around Australia, and (separately) congratulating me on summitting the toughest multi-patch ascent of a mountain in North America,
  • International Casino Architect John Young: Telling me the time and place of the Macau Congress Centre Construction Site Walk, to check on progress,
  • Model John Young: Letting me know the location of my Apple Computer and Abercrombie & Fitch go-sees for Monday morning, and
  • Considerate Husband John Young: Reminding me to pick up milk and snow tires on my way back home to my flat in the UK.

All of these fine, adventurous, considerate gentlemen are John Young. None of them are me.

So I hereby announce the formation of the International Federation for the Betterment of John Young. Membership is open to John Young. The IFBJY (pronounced “if-BIDjy”) will exist to promulgate the welfare, happiness, and advancement of John Young, and to increase the quality of life of John Young generally. Also, to reroute John Young’s misdirected email when it has mistakenly been sent to John Young. Because I don’t want John Young to keep missing his go-sees.

Charter membership is now open to John Young! John, shoot me an email at john dot young at gmail dot com, and I will add your name to the membership roster, and assign you a serial number based on the order in which you joined. (Sorry, I am John Young Number 001, since I have to do SOMETHING to compete with the International Hero and the two-fisted australian camera operator pictured above.) There is also a John Young number 002 (Nicole’s friend; hi John!)

Those of you that know a John Young, those of you that love a John Young, please copy and paste the following email to them so they can be John Young number 003. Thank you!

Dear John Young:

I wanted you to know about the creation of the International Federation for the Betterment of John Young, which is forming now, and will soon be live at The IFBJY (pronounced IF-BIDGE-ee) is open to John Young, and exists to promulgate John Youngs’ welfare, happiness, and quality of life. And also to forward John Young’s misdirected email that has been mistakenly sent to John Young. And to try to get out from the shadow of the GODDAMN ASTRONAUT. Come on, right? You’ve driven on John Young Parkway in Florida and had to explain about the W. Are we right, John? Sure we are.

Membership is free to John Young. In order to join, please fill out the following form:

All fields except name are optional. Fortunately, name is already filled out for you.
YOUR NAME: John Young
[ ] Not published
[ ] Published, but obfuscated through Javascript
Please use the third person, and lard your bio liberally with references to “John Young”: “John Young enjoys helicopter skiing, NASCAR, and the soft feel of marabou”, etc.:


Please send the completed application to John Young, at john DOT young AT gmail DOT com.

Once your membership application has been received, you will be assigned a serial number based PURELY on the order in which it arrives. It’ll then be published at the website of the International Federation for the Betterment of John Young.

Thanks, John! If you have questions, they may be directed to John Young at the email address above.

Cordial regards,
[your name]
on behalf of John Young

UPDATE: It turns out that John Young, pictured above as the living, breathing embodiment of a Fisher Price Adventure Person, traveled to virtually impenetrable Australian wilderness and brought back photographic evidence of a hitherto-thought-extinct species of Blue-Fronted Fig Parrot. But the haters don’t believe John Young. The IFBJY’s first mission will be a letter campaign reminding the members of the press that John Young is a busy man, and that when John Young completes his research, all questions will be laid to rest. John Young has total confidence in John Young.

Announcing The International Federation for the Betterment of John Young