The name alone arouses curiosity. A Junk is a type of Chinese sailing vessel that dates back to the Han Dynasty. And they were used for extensive ocean voyages.
But what is a Junk Raft? In the case of eco-mariners Dr. Marcus Eriksen and Joel Paschal, The Junk Raft is an ocean vessel crafted from junk plastic bottles, a Cessna 310 airplane fueselage and various other ‘junk’ materials.
The Junk Raft recently sailed from California to Hawaii to protest the growing pile of trash in our oceans. These plastics end up in the bellies of Albatrosses – things that really shouldn’t be floating out there, like lighters and toys. They don’t break down, not in the albatrosses and not in the ocean itself.
And it’s that very durability of plastic that has made the Junk Raft’s courageous voyage possible. Marcus and Joel literally netted up 15000 bottles from the waste stream of Los Angeles, forming two pontoons that floated them all the way to Hawaii. And what a journey it was.
Now Marcus and Anna Cummins, another plastics crusader, are teaming up, in more ways than one, and hitting the road, biking from Vancouver to Baja on the Junk Ride. To help them tell their story, we created Bike Speak.
Marcus and Anna wanted a small, self-contained thing they could carry with them on their tour, that would allow them to host cruiser rides, and do pedal powered slideshows and presentations at schools and parks. At the same time it had to pack enough punch to address a reasonable size crowd both indoors and out. They already had a Fender Blender X, so they we made an Xtracycle-compatible cabinet and a generator attachment that can be used with the Fender Blender base, without requiring tools to switch back and forth to smoothie mode.
With the human power module, a volunteer can pedal the system to run the amplification while Marcus and Anna give their talk. And with the Fender Blender bike blender system, they can serve up fresh smoothies to the crowd after the talk while enjoying great sounding music pumped out by the system’s internal rechargeable NiMH battery, good for an estimated 14 hours of light and music.
With each custom Soul Cycle that comes out of Rock The Bike, we try to push the envelope a little further. A few of us had been sketching hinged cabinets with two modes: stereo for cruising, and unidirectional for public address. Hence the flip-up action. We followed the snapdeck aesthetic, following the curves at the head and tail. The curve at the tail is functional. It matches the Fender Blender base. We used an ultra efficient amplifier for amplification and four Pro Audio full-range speakers. These speakers are small and extremely lightweight with alloy housings and neodymium magnets, weighing only 1 lb each! A crossover protects the tweeters. The entire finished cabinet, with speakers, amplifier, battery, mixer, voltage regulation system, microphone, and integrated lighting weighs in at a only 12 lbs! By far our lightest Soul Cycle to date.
A two-channel mixer is built into the controls. This stereo mixer will enable Marcus and Anna to play background music from their laptop’s slideshow program, while speaking through a lightweight microphone we provided.
We came up with a custom voltage regulation circuit to protect the internal battery, mixer, and amp from the motor. The circuit also taps a little power to trickle charge the battery. We also added a separate noise suppression circuit to mute static from the generator.
When the cabinet is flipped up, the user has access to a small “cubby” door. Inside the door is a small storage compartment where the microphone, cords, and handlebar mount can be stored when not in use.
The handlebar mount will accommodate an iPod or other mp3 player and features a battery fuel/voltage gauge. This gauge will tell the user the current charge state of the battery while also giving the human power pedalers an indication of how their pedal power is affecting the system.
Be sure to check the Junk Ride schedule for news about Marcus and Anna’s latest educational adventure and the Bike Speak system. During the Spring and Summer of 2009 Marcus and Anna will be touring the West coast. SF-Cruisers can expect a Junk Ride social ride with Anna and Marcus when they come through San Francisco. Like the Junk Raft’s epic sail to Hawaii, the Junk Ride mission is not easy. At last check Marcus was mentioning that he intended to tow a raft so that the pair could ford rivers. Rock on! Send them fanmail on their blog, and please stay tuned for more on that social ride.