The Winter Consumer Electronics Show (WCES), convened in Las Vegas, may be
smaller in size than the summer show held in Chicago, but from an auto sound
perspective it's better: There are more cars, more systems, and more new
products. The recent WCES was even more exciting than usual for car audiophiles
since both Clarion and Kenwood showed production-line DAT (digital audio tape)
players destined for store shelves they should be there now.
DAT wasn't the whole story, though. It was hard to overlook
Terminator, a 4-ton 1960 Cadillac Hearse. Harris, an electrical engineer at
Orion, has spent over three years working on the Terminator, and estimates that
he's put about $60,000 into its audio/video/computer system. The Terminator
itself has undergone a facelift. All external hardware has been removed. The
side doors are solenoid-controlled and accessed through a key-chain remote
control. Switches on the dash can be used to open the doors (from the inside)
and to control such functions as wiper and light operation. A Panasonic video
camera feeds a Panasonic color screen located in the dash behind the steering
wheel for rearview monitoring. The wheel is a Beechcraft King Air, and it has an
Escort radar detector built into it.
The Terminator's "cockpit".
Also in the dash are the screen for the ETAK navigation system and a text
monitor for the on-board Apple II-plus computer. The II-plus turns the system's
amps on and off and monitors their temperatures, the status of the electrical
system, and oil pressure; its monitor also provides a tachometer display as well
as analog and digital speedometer readouts.
The dash console houses a pair of Panasonic 5-inch color monitors; the top
one displays graphics from the Apple computer, and the bottom one displays video
images from a connected Panasonic VHS Hi-Fi VCR. Beneath the VCR's monitor is
the control unit for Alpine's 7375 cassette changer, an Alpine 1341 AM/FM tuner,
and the control unit for Alpine's 5900 CD changer.
To the right of the console, Harris installed a logarithmic watt/meter panel
with a digital readout; sensitivity is adjustable, range 50 to 1,000 watts.
Beneath this panel are a dbx twelve-band real-time analyzer/computer-controlled
equalizer, a homemade subsonic synthesizer with four memories (frequencies from
50 to 100 Hz are synthesized down one octave), and a digital delay that feeds
MTX speakers installed in the headrests of the Recaro front seats; the delay is
adjustable from 4 to 1,064 ms.
To the right of this component cluster is a security panel housing three "independent
and redundant" security systems: a Pulsar Intercept 1000, a Pulsar 250, and
a no-name paging model Harris "bought from some girl for $80"; the
transmitter for the no-name is installed in the headrest of the driver's seat.
Built into the headliner: a trip computer and cruise control; ignition
buttons; a keypad for switching on the Apple computer, the amp fans, and the
dash lights; and a keyboard for an electric sign that Harris uses at conventions
and sound-off competitions.
from the cockpit when looking backwards.
The driver and the front-seat passenger each have their own left/right pair
of MTX 1-inch tweeters (crossed over at 5,000 Hz) and 5-inch midranges (crossed
over at 97 and 5,000 Hz) installed in the overhead console. In the rear are
three 24-inch subwoofers installed in separate, ported chambers, each having a
volume of 13 cubic feet, with the enclosures tuned to 18 Hz; the crossover is at
48 Hz with a 30-dB/octave slope, and the 3-dB downpoint is at 22 Hz. Built into
the floor are eight MTX Terminator 12-inch woofers installed in separate, ported
chambers each having a volume of 1 cubic foot, and these enclosures are tuned to
60 Hz; the crossover is at 340 Hz, also with a 30-dB/octave slope. (Harris says
that MTX named the 12-inch subs after his hearse.) The enclosures are made from
1-inch Grade BC plywood; they're internally braced and have beveled joints.
Harris sealed the enclosures with wood glue, 2-inch dry-wall screws, and ("for
Open the Terminator's rear doors and you'll find a two-sided panel. On one
side of the panel are battery cables and bus bars, fuses, six Orion four-way
electronic crossovers, a signal-distribution box, and an interface for the Apple
computer. The amps are on the flip side: one Orion 240-gx and six Orion
2350-gx's, for a total of 4,280 watts. The amps are protected by three fans, and
Harris says that the glass "shroud" over the panel keeps the air
circulating over the amps.
On the flip side of the rotating panel, Harris secured battery cables and bus bars,
fuses, six Orion four-way electronic crossovers, a homemade signal-
distribution box, and an interface for the Apple II-plus computer.
The Terminator has the most esoteric and complex mobile electronics system
we have seen and it's also the most fun. Harris is to be commended for
advancing the art of installation, as well as for his dedicated pursuit of
perfection. This is one hearse we wouldn't mind riding in.
The Terminator after three years of work and $60,000.