Making Stuff: February 23, 2013

Boy howdy do I love to make stuff!  My day job is all about making stuff and I spend a lot of free time making stuff.  But the most exciting kind of making is having the privilege of bringing into being a new kind of object-one with a new purpose that the world has never seen before- the Lawrence OnBoard ride board. (Warning-if you don’t geek out about the gritty details of making stuff, just skip this post.)

The LOB ride boards have to look very professional, but also be comfortable to use and must hold up under heavy use and weather.  The ride board will be what sets LOB apart from the casual hitchhiker, so it has to practically shout  middle class respectability.  Using quality materials is the first step, as is careful attention to craftsmanship.  But it is equally important  to keep the costs down, which also includes labor costs.  So at each step of the process, I have to ask “How can I do this faster?” and “Is there something that works as well but is less pricey?”

I decided to use a sign making material called “DuoBond” which has a PCV core, laminated with thin aluminum and coated with a slick white surface.  My hope was to use the coating already on the board as white board material.  However, it is too prone to scratches which catch dust from the dry erase marker which looks grubby.  So, I am adding a writing surface of regular white board vinyl to the inside.  This can be easily and cheaply replaced when it wears out.  The boards are hinged at the short end with an aluminum piano hinge. I used an amazing industrial sign tape called VHB, which is like double-sided tape on steroids, to attach the hinges.

The next step will be to spray paint the back sides a fluorescent green, then mask off the white board and spray a border of green  on the front sides.  I plan to order some small oval bumper stickers with the LOB logo for the back sides.  Add a strip of velcro for the marker, and a transparent plastic sleeve for a photo ID, and they are ready for the Research Ride Day.  I am making a total of 30 test boards, and the Ride Day will put them through their paces.

More about the Ride Day in the next post…