screenings near you / projections près de chez vous 


How-to Build your Own MediaPackBoard

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MediaPackBoard (MPB) Curates 2007


The MediaPackBoard (MPB) is a project that was planned for several years and was finally put together in the spring of 2005. The idea for this portable screening / performance unit evolved from earlier the portable gallery / performance projects - TRUNK: expositions près chez vous / exhibiting near you - TRUNK75 and LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION: We Are Getting Closer, a cross Canada wireless web cam project.

MediaPackBoard Curates 2007 is the 3rd phase of the MPB project. It seems like a good time to put out some ‘how to build your own’ information along with an invitation to exchange video programs between the locations of individuals or groups interested in the idea of taking screenings and performance into the public / itinerant space.

The MPB went through a several changes during the research and development until a convenient and functional DYI unit was achieved. The MediaPackBoard consists of a flat screen television monitor mounted on a supporting backpack unit. Through use of a camcorder, the wearer is able to screen (playback) pre-recorded videos on the backpack MPB TV unit or, through use of the camera, to interact with the public while simultaneously displaying that interaction. When the audience member becomes the featured attraction on the television monitor, the MPB presenter becomes a kind of host or member of the audience as well. The wearer is not able to see the TV screen but is able to know what is appearing on her / his back by following the action through the camcorder viewfinder. A compact 12-volt battery and DC to AC power inverter connected to the TV make the portability of this itinerant gallery / screening / performance unit possible. The 12-volt battery has the popular ‘cigarette lighter’ adaptor used to power small chargers in cars. The battery features a ‘flash warning’ when the power is getting low, it cuts in and out a few times. When this happens, you have to shut the whole unit as the LCD TV could sustain damage if the battery power is allowed to completely drain. Fully charged, the battery will last slightly longer than an hour. The inverter has the matching cigarette lighter adaptor and a three prong plug-in to accommodate the TV connection. A clear Plexiglas shield in front of the TV screen is a good idea. (Easier to replace than a TV) The entire MPB apparatus weighs approximately 30 lb. (About 14 kg)

Click on picture to see larger resolution.

If you are planning on making a MediaPackBoard you should download the tiff format files for actual size.



MPB early stage of production (before new backpack was built)

How to build a MediaPackBoard (MPB) unit

You will need to buy:
1) A small (lightweight) flat screen television (15 inch works well)
2) A piece of plexi-glas plastic to mount in front of the TV screen to protect it from dust and direct contact. (Touching, or bumping in crowded situations)
3) A battery pack unit with waist belt. On the first MediaPackBoard, I have used a 12-volt battery (Cool-Lux brand universal battery: non-spillable sealed lead-acid battery)
4) A DC to AC power inverter to use with the 12-volt battery to power the TV. (For the past few years, consumer grade invertors started evolving and have become more available, compact, lightweight and relatively inexpensive. I have used the STATPOWER Pro-watt 150 brand.)
5) You will also need a waist belt/pouch to carry the inverter.


You will need to make:


1) A lightweight aluminum support board with holes to attach the TV to the backpack.

download plan

.pdf / file size: 156kb

TIFF: This document must be unzip
resolution 150 dpi
(1260 * 1545 pixel, file size: 5.6MB
MIME type: image/tiff

2) The support board has holes to attach a clear Plexiglas screen protection. This is an essential to place in front of your plasma screen unit.
download plan

.pdf / file size:76kb

TIFF: This document must be unzip
resolution 150 dpi
(1104 * 771pixel, file size: 2.5MB
MIME type: image/tiff

3) A backpack unit (make it, or adapt one to fit)

I found out that to have a custom pack made up was impossible in my city. I could have ordered one from the US but decided to sew it myself. It saved both time and money. I cut the bag off an old backpack and used the straps and belt. This made one of the steps easier. I designed the aluminum support board to attach the flat screen TV and had that fabricated by a machine shop.
I then designed a custom fit exterior backpack bag and made it up on a sewing machine. Below is the backpack pattern used to fit a Sharp AQUOS 15 inch LCD TV. The pattern can be modified depending on the size and style of TV that you decide to use. The drawing has been laid out on six sheets of 8.5 x 11 - standard office and taped together. Suggestion: download the .pdf, divide it into the six sections [A to F] and re-assemble. Adapt the drawing according to your TV size. (Green lines indicate the edges of sheets A - F)

Red lines and dotted red lines indicate where you need to cut the fabric. I used a fairly heavy cloth that is specific to backpack manufacture. I added a sheet of compressed foam between the TV support board and my back.

download plan

.pdf / file size:188kb

TIFF: This document must be unzip
resolution 72 dpi / actual size
(1855 * 1584 pixel, file size: 8.5MB
MIME type: image/tiff

 

4) Travelling with the MPB.

I recommend investing in a sturdy carrying case that can travel as checked luggage if you fly to show in other locations. I have used a Pelican brand case, guaranteed against smashing when tossed and has a button that allows condensation out without letting moisture in. Here is a photo of the MPB gear with the carrying case. If you decide to go with a smaller unit, maybe you can carry it as onboard luggage but don’t count on that luxury in the face of more stringent security measures at airports.



MediaPackBoard in its Pelican Case

MediaPackBoard: monitor

 
MediaPackBoard: Cool-Lux battery

MediaPackBoard: Inverter

Additionally:

It is useful to have a hat, or some identifiable costume to stand out as a welcoming attraction. It is recommended to print up a card to pass out to your public and to be prepared to explain the project and to answer questions.

If you plan to videotape people: in conversation; storytelling; performing; or asking questions, or if you want to simply document encounters, you should have a plan to obtain written or ‘camera recorded permission’ to videotape and to use someone’s image and words. I usually do up a disclaimer / permission sheet to have people sign. That way, you can publish short videos on your website and / or screen highlights to new audiences in the future. Generally, you should be prepared to assure people that the fun they have while participating in the project will look good on the website – and keep your word on that. Keep an active email contact address on the website so that people can contact you later with comments when they have seen the site, and be prepared to remove images if requested. (a rare occurrence)

Get out, add to the diversity and positive ambience of any setting, entertain, be entertained, meet people, have fun, share ideas – experience street culture as a presenter and facilitator to those you meet. Overall, place importance on the strength of face-to-face exchange over the sensationalism of the projected television experience and see where it goes. …

If you decide to build an MPB, please contact us to explore the possibility of exchanging video programs and distributing information ‘local / global local.’ One of the main ideas to date with the MPB is to keep the distribution ‘closer to home; that is – with the persistent element of live interaction / reaction a focal point. In other words, the MPB carrier is able to talk directly with her/his audience member(s) on a one to one basis. Please acknowledge this source if you decide to build your own MediaPackBoard.
 
official site: www.mediapackboard.org

This project was made possible through the generous support of: