Unimog portable sound system (Wall st journal)

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A Sound Machine With Places to Go

The Space Cowboys, a music collective, have created a ‘Unimog,’ which is effectively a mobile sound system

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‘The Space Cowboys,’ a collective from the popular Burning Man festival, have converted a Mercedes Unimog military truck into the ultimate party on wheels. Photo: Jason Henry for The Wall Street Journal

Steve Hwang, a member of the San Francisco-based music and art collective Space Cowboys, on the group’s “Unimog,” as told to A.J. Baime.

The idea for the Mog first came in 2000, and a lot of the original inspiration was Burning Man (an annual gathering in the Nevada desert). We wanted to create an urban assault vehicle that plays music, a fully self-contained mobile sound and video system.

We started with a 1973 Mercedes Unimog 404 that we got through an importer in Vallejo, Calif. The vehicle was originally created to be a military radio truck, and it’s popular in the four-wheeling community because it has such high ground clearance and bullet-proof engineering. Once we had the truck, we started the build-out.

So many pitched in. Space Cowboys is a collective of people with many different talents—fabricating, sound engineering, mechanical expertise, and music production. When we started bringing the Mog to parties, it was pretty difficult. We had to tow speakers, generators, and other equipment in a second vehicle. My contribution was to make the Mog more plug-and-play. Everything is built-in and, ideally, deploys at the push of a button.

A Sound Machine With Places to Go

The Space Cowboys, a music collective, have created a ‘Unimog,’ which is effectively a mobile sound system

Members of the San Francisco-based art and music collective Space Cowboys. The Mog was a group effort. ‘We just want to create our own sound, our own vibe, and to share it with our friends and our community,’ says Mr. Hwang. ‘And mobility is a huge part of it.’
CAPTIONS<br>

Steve Hwang, a member of the San Francisco-based art and music collective Space Cowboys,’ with the group’s Mog—a fully-mobile sound and video party machine—photographed here in Oakland, Calif.
The Mog began life as a 1973 Mercedes Unimog 404. The vehicle was originally created as a military radio truck. On the Space Cowboy’s website, it is now referred to as an All-Terrain Audio Visual Assault Vehicle (an ATAVAV).
Members of the crew deploying the sound equipment. Up top: four stadium speakers that rise out of the cab on pneumatic lifts.
‘Ripe is kind of a tag line that stuck,’ says Mr. Hwang. Members of the Space Cowboys collective had gotten ahold of a roll of ‘Ripe’ stickers that go on produce in a supermarket. ‘It’s become a bit of a mantra.’
A look at the Mog’s onboard electrical closet. The truck utilizes four amplifiers: two 8,000-watt amps and two 4,000-watt amps.
Mr. Hwang in the back of the Mog, surrounded by four fold-out subwoofers.
The platform in front of the Ripe flag is what the DJ stands on during gigs.
The subwoofers fold into the cab for safe transportation.
Mr. Hwang drives the Mog to gigs. ‘It can crawl up a wall,’ he says. ‘In first gear, you get to about three mph. In second, maybe five. In third, you’re ready to roll.’
An overhead shot of the cockpit.
Another view of the electrical equipment. ‘It’s not your typical home stereo setup,’ says Mr. Hwang of the Mog.
The booth usually holds one DJ at a time, but two can fit.
‘Needless to say,’ Mr. Hwang notes, ‘it’s ground-shaking powerful.’
Members of the San Francisco-based art and music collective Space Cowboys. The Mog was a group effort. ‘We just want to create our own sound, our own vibe, and to share it with our friends and our community,’ says Mr. Hwang. ‘And mobility is a huge part of it.’
CAPTIONS<br>

Steve Hwang, a member of the San Francisco-based art and music collective Space Cowboys,’ with the group’s Mog—a fully-mobile sound and video party machine—photographed here in Oakland, Calif.

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Members of the San Francisco-based art and music collective Space Cowboys. The Mog was a group effort. ‘We just want to create our own sound, our own vibe, and to share it with our friends and our community,’ says Mr. Hwang. ‘And mobility is a huge part of it.’ JASON HENRY FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
CAPTIONS
Steve Hwang, a member of the San Francisco-based art and music collective …
The Mog began life as a 1973 Mercedes Unimog 404. The vehicle was originally created as a military radio truck. On the Space Cowboy’s website, it is now referred to as an All-Terrain Audio Visual Assault Vehicle (an ATAVAV). JASON HENRY FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Members of the crew deploying the sound equipment. Up top: four stadium speakers that rise out of the cab on pneumatic lifts. JASON HENRY FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
‘Ripe is kind of a tag line that stuck,’ says Mr. Hwang. Members of the Space Cowboys collective had gotten ahold of a roll of ‘Ripe’ stickers that go on produce in a supermarket. ‘It’s become a bit of a mantra.’ JASON HENRY FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
A look at the Mog’s onboard electrical closet. The truck utilizes four amplifiers: two 8,000-watt amps and two 4,000-watt amps. JASON HENRY FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Mr. Hwang in the back of the Mog, surrounded by four fold-out subwoofers. JASON HENRY FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
The platform in front of the Ripe flag is what the DJ stands on during gigs. JASON HENRY FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
The subwoofers fold into the cab for safe transportation. JASON HENRY FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Mr. Hwang drives the Mog to gigs. ‘It can crawl up a wall,’ he says. ‘In first gear, you get to about three mph. In second, maybe five. In third, you’re ready to roll.’ JASON HENRY FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
An overhead shot of the cockpit. JASON HENRY FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Another view of the electrical equipment. ‘It’s not your typical home stereo setup,’ says Mr. Hwang of the Mog. JASON HENRY FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
The booth usually holds one DJ at a time, but two can fit. JASON HENRY FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
‘Needless to say,’ Mr. Hwang notes, ‘it’s ground-shaking powerful.’ JASON HENRY FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Members of the San Francisco-based art and music collective Space Cowboys. The Mog was a group effort. ‘We just want to create our own sound, our own vibe, and to share it with our friends and our community,’ says Mr. Hwang. ‘And mobility is a huge part of it.’ JASON HENRY FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
CAPTIONS
Steve Hwang, a member of the San Francisco-based art and music collective Space Cowboys,’ with the group’s Mog—a fully-mobile sound and video party machine—photographed here in Oakland, Calif. JASON HENRY FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

We outfitted the truck with eight 21-inch subwoofers in custom enclosures, and four all-weather stadium speakers mounted inside the cab that raise on a pneumatic lift. Concert-grade amplifiers, two 7,000-watt generators, a DJ booth—all of it is built-in.

I manage the truck, and I’ve driven it to Burning Man, to gigs in Squaw Valley, Los Angeles, Santa Rosa, and all over the Bay Area. It’s not your typical home-stereo setup. Our objective was to achieve a very high quality of sound, and to be able to take that quality sound wherever we want. We don’t break any speed limits when we’re on the road, but on flat pavement or moderate inclines, the Mog will cruise at 55 mph.

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Needless to say, it’s ground-shaking powerful. But our goal was never to be the biggest or loudest, or to compete with anyone. We just want to create our own sound, our own vibe, and to share it with our friends and our community. And mobility is a huge part of it.

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