The Mobile Literacy Arts Bus (MLAB) is an artist-run, renovated recreational vehicle that exists as a flexible space open to community members’ proposals for alternative educational and cultural programming.

MLAB is the collaborative effort of the 2007-2008 Social Sculpture class at Syracuse University, comprised of 10 art and architecture students and lead by artist and Director of Community Initiatives in the Visual Arts of Syracuse University, Marion Wilson. Our mission was to transform a used, 1984 Recreational Vehicle Bus into a Mobile Literacy and Arts Bus for use by the Syracuse City School District and the greater Syracuse Community. MLAB serves as a physical manifestation of Syracuse University’s Scholarship in Action initiative, by pairing University resources with community needs in an attempt to address the staggering drop out rates in the Syracuse City School District High Schools. Through the School of Education at Syracuse University, incredible curricula that bridge photography, poetry and literacy currently exist within the public schools-- however due to a crisis of space, the schools don't always have the space or resources to house it. MLAB is this space. The bus serves as a mobile classroom, digital photo lab, gallery space, and community center. As a team, we did it all: demolition, design, and construction.

MLAB is made possible from the generous support of the School of Education at Syracuse University and Entitiative.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Time to Get Wired

Nicolette (aka Electrolette) and I made good progress on the wiring yesterday. Now that we’ve got a better understanding of the RV wiring I’m seriously considering (i.e. proposing) relocating/centralizing the main electrical panels and trickle charger. I’m thinking the main panels and charger should be relocated behind the driver’s seat above the inverter and forward of the generator box. This would put all the electrical stuff in one central location and outside the main classroom space. Another advantage is we wouldn't have to design the seating/work space storage around the electric panels. If possible it could be mounted to the backside (i.e. driver’s side) of the front printer/storage cabinets. Or if we’re building a wall between the driver’s area and the main space it could be mounted on the driver’s side of that wall. Not sure what we’re doing structurally there. Are there any thoughts/concerns about this?

Here is the preliminary list of electrical related design questions. It would be really nice to know the number and locations of electrical outlets so we can remove the old wiring, and place new boxes and wire immediately after getting the rough framing done. I keep thinking it would be nice to "hide" the outlets behind the removable wall sections so that they are only accessible when those panels are removed; but we"ll leave the final decision to the designers. Will we have dedicated outlets for the space heaters? Will these be plug-in heaters that can be placed anywhere or hard wired/fixed placements? Similarly the number and locations of light boxes and switches and projector location/mounts would be good to know by November 1st. Has anyone given any thought to whether the lights are standard 120v fixtures or 12 volt lighting (as the RV original had)? We can support either type.

Are we thinking of any additional wiring needs? For example: cable TV (coaxial), or network (CAT5/router) wiring and boxes, will the laptops have a wired hookup to the printers?

On the framing side of things I would also propose using metal studs. They are easy to work with, come with pre-cut holes for wiring, and are light weight. As usual this is up for discussion.

What do you think?


M-Lab said...

do you mind if I outsource this question to Bruce Macbeth -our electician consultant - in terms of moving the electric panel. I will ask him to read the blog and comment there.
ps another lead on more wood - apparently national grid has a froestry dept and because the cut down lots of trees are always looking to donate to projects like this. I just need to type a letter. They also want us to put in a request for a grant - either smart classroom - or something techy - between 1 and 10k - give them options - what are our desires....
in what order and does anyone know prices of things -even the cost of a solar panel.

cazhog said...

Not at all. In fact I'd welcome any advice. Be sure to let him know we're going to be putting in all new 120v outlets, light boxes, and light switches anyway so there will be a significant amount of rewiring. Also there is very little left of the original 12v coach system. There are a couple of overhead fans, and one light. We don't have any appliances left, no furnace, no water pump, no tank monitors, etc. The only place I've found where the systems cross from coach to vehicle is battery charging; which we would continue.
We are basically at the starting over point ("green pastures") with the electric, so my thought was why not centralize it. But I will definitely follow Bruce's advice.

M-Lab said...

I am sure he will agree with you. He would be doing all of the re-wiring right - that is not something you and electrolette know how to do, right? Or do you??

Also yes to aluminum frames. Vince is trying to get a measurement for me so I know how much we need. If you are available most of the students agreed to work next weekend on trying to getting them up nd have a kind of charette! How Freanch.

cazhog said...

I can do the wiring. If I was to run into something I wasn't sure about I would check with him.

M-Lab said...

I forwarded him this blog address and your questions and copied you. I am paying him as a consultant including the time he spends advising us so feel free to email him directly as well- just introduce yourself and post the comments.
His name is Bruce Macbeth

Bruce Macbeth said...

On moving the panel: if you're doing a full rewire, then moving the panel where you want it is a good idea. I would use flexible plastic conduit to connect all the new boxes to each other and to the new panel location. In this way you can reconfigure the system by pulling new wire through the conduit to any of the boxes. I often do this when the needs of an electrical system have not been determined but the locations for boxes have been decided. This allows maximum flexibility for future changes in wiring and allows one to mount a switch or receptacle in any location and connect it to any other outlet box. I also use a 4" square metal junction box that will accept a single gang or a double gang opening mudring for mounting one or more switches/receptacles.

As to the space heaters: I would use plug in types, you can set up the wiring to supply the necessary power.

As to lighting: I would stick with 120v types. With low energy compact fluorescent lights, it's easy and cheap to energize the lights with a 12VDC to 120vac inverter if you need to run the lights from the battery.

That’s all for now...