By Andrew Rudolph
When the pandemic hit and we couldn't get together indoors for big events, we brought the party outside with our giant mobile boombox bike!
What inspired you or what is the idea that got you started?
Many members of MakerFX exhibit as Makers at MakerFaires across Florida, when the pandemic hit and there were no more events we decided we should come up with a community build where we could divide up components and integrate them together into an awesome outdoor party machine! In 2020 we started with the BrightBikes project, building bicycles covered in LEDs to get out and have fun. For 2021 we decided we needed to go bigger, and what's more fun than a giant boombox? We had already talked about making a giant boombox as just a fun idea, but this was the time to make it for real.
What is your project about and how does it work?
The BoomBike is a fun party rocking machine. The idea was to get people out on the streets and dance and have fun! Inside there is a multitude of electronic and mechanical components to make it happen. The bike started off as a cheap $100 bike that we hacked up with some step scooter wheels and steel to build the platform for the boombox to sit upon. The Boombox itself is built separately from the bike such that we can remove the box for service or fun. The boombox part is a welded frame skinned with expanded PVC sheet painted and stickered up. There many subsystems, from the Roswell 650w amp, to the MiniDSP processor, to the 3d printed cassette deck, there is a lot to take in. In the end, it pumps the jam, has interactive buttons and sliders that cause different animations to appear. The interactive element is driven by a teensy processor, with lots of custom 3d printed parts and a lot of LEDs. Finally the power is supplied by a custom built lifepo4 battery or inverter.
What did you learn by doing this project?
We learned a lot on this project, none of us had ever coded a LED matrix like the one we used, there were great resources online to get us going, and many different members worked together to get it going. I guess it goes without saying, but none of us had built a giant boombox, or bike cart thing, or a standalone audio system, the list goes on and on. Additionally the biggest part was as a community it was great to work together to get a project done in pieces/parts to stay safe in the crazy times we were in, and we had to learn to work within those constraints to turn out an awesome project!
What impact does your project have on others as well as yourself?
Beyond our internal Maker community working together and expanding our skillsets, we brought a lot of joy to people who have seen and interacted with the BoomBike. We were tagged all over social media, in local print and tv news, and generally we felt people needed something fun like this to enjoy during the trying times we had.