One of the biggest problems that we encounter while judging at 24 Hours Of LeMons races is whiners!
We needed an audiovisual aid to warn a whiner when he or she had crossed the line!
So, I knocked together this World's Greatest Whiner Alarm and off it went to the races. Naturally, I insisted on using only the finest junkyard components! Since I'm off to the Maker Faire today, let's have a how-to; here's how it went together:
I scrounged this ancient klaxon, aka "Oogah Horn," many years ago, from a junked Econoline van. I love that submarine-movie "DIVE! DIVE! OOOGAH! OOOGAH!" sound, and this horn has lived in a few of my cars over the years. Still, I knew it was destined for something better. The Junkyard Boogaloo Boombox taught me that plywood + junkyard electrical parts = goodness.
For the circuitry, I'd be using a modified version of the control circuit that operated the talking skulls on the Black Metal V8olvo at the Arse Freeze-A-Palooza LeMons race last December. For that, I needed a couple of relays. This BMW 325e relay panel was my first stop.
A turn-signal flasher would provide the timing mechanism to flash the lights and honk the horn. I prefer Chrysler K Car flashers for this purpose, because they're exceptionally easy to find and remove from a junked car.
The next item on my shopping list: taillight sockets and bulbs. I like 90s Nissan units for this sort of application, because they're easily removed from the car and come with handy mounting holes. This Infiniti had all I needed.
So many modern cars have impossible-to-extract sockets, and the older ones tend to suffer from corrosion. Take a Murilee Junkyard Engineering Tip: head right for the Nissan products!
Back at home, I started knocking together a frame out of some scrap plywood and drywall screws. The whole mess was sized around a nice thick piece of obscure Plexiglas I'd scavenged from somewhere.
The klaxon had no mounting bracket, so a few minutes sawing and drilling on a chunk of sheet aluminum (left over from the gauge panels I made for the Black Metal V8olvo) solved that problem.
Once the case was built, I gave the inside a coat of white paint, in order to maximize brightness when the bulbs came on.
I hit the outside with some green spray paint, then got to work on the innards. One light bulb is used to provide sufficient load to operate the Chrysler turn-signal flasher, which then actuates two Bosch relays. One relay powers the klaxon and the other powers the remaining three lights.
Version 1.0 of the World's Greatest Whiner alarm was powered by a car lighter plug and a long cord, but this setup didn't work so well. Not only was the power supply insufficient for good klaxon volume, disaster struck when a LeMons Supreme Court justice drove the rental car away without disconnecting the alarm. Crash! Fortunately, the damage was easily fixed. Version 2.0 features a battery box on the back and a junkyard car battery connected via a pair of Camry battery terminals and cables.
Because much high-temperature unpleasantness would result from a short circuit inside the box, I installed a 30-amp fuse- which I believe came from a Mitsubishi Diamante- on the positive battery cable.
Some packaging tape and red plastic sheeting changes the clear Plexiglas into whiner-menacing red.
A trip to the thrift store netted this resin "World's Greatest" sign, no doubt intended for use as part of a "World's Greatest Parole Officer" or "World's Greatest Bassoon Player" craft project. Total expenditure so far: $1.
I had this little red spotlight in a box-o-crap™, so I installed it next to the klaxon.
The original switch was a pull-chain-style lamp switch, but it proved too fragile for LeMons Supreme Court use. This Frankensteinian knife switch is much more satisfying for the user; it allows a judge to place one hand on the switch and ask the miscreant "You sure you want to keep complaining?" Since the miscreant must eat a jar of super-nasty baby food once the World's Greatest Whiner Alarm is triggered, the hefty knife switch adds a useful air of menace. And there you have it- not much work, almost no money, and a battery that's about to be transferred to my Personal Hell Project.