child’s play: outside PA days

Recently, I found some pictures of something I enjoyed doing as a child (adolescent, really), and I started to think about it. It occurred to me that, possibly, nobody else has ever done this. I think, if I document it, I might be surprised about the truthfulness of that…

So, today, I’m going to tell you a little story. (All events took place 2002-05.)

I had a school PA system. What better place to set it up than outside? Welcome to outside PA days!

outside PA days

No, seriously.

outside PA days
outside PA days
outside PA days

You have to have a speaker in the tree, right?

outside PA days

While this switchbank was more convenient to use—on account of the screw terminal connections—I have more memories of using the newer 1A952 with the separate 1A3060 amplifier. Specifically, I remember hotwiring a busted business phone and connecting it so that I could make pages from the orchard. I didn’t get out the camera very often though, it seems.

Also, I had a very distorted (pun intended) view of music when I was that age. The more “bass”, the better. In this case, I’m sure it was nothing but muddy mid-bass. (I also used a Sony portable CD player as a program source—with the bass boost all the way up, of course!) If you pump enough “bass” into this sort of system, it will make a popping/crackling noise along with the low notes. I later learned that this was, in fact, transformer saturation. Oh yeah, I totally saturated the transformers.

((Technical side-note: I was never able to saturate an Atlas HT-82/87 transformer in this way. Only the really cheap ones will do that.))

outside PA days

Unused speakers were a foreign concept—I hooked up every last speaker that I had! (Or, every last transformer, at least.)

The best weather for a PA day is cool and overcast, looking as though it may rain at any moment. I had trash bags that I modified with a duct tape patch that had a hole in it for the screw that holds a speaker to its bracket, to cover the speakers. You bet I still ran them with the bags over them.

outside PA days

And then there were clocks. I don’t remember doing it very many times with clocks—it must not have been as fun and/or was too much work. (All the pictures with clocks are probably of the very last time I ever did this.)

outside PA days

You have to string a clock up in the tree with baler twine. It’s required.

outside PA days

You’ve heard of an outdoor classroom, right?

outside PA days

Those metal stands are from Da-lite model A projector screens; I stripped down three of them for this purpose. Judging by the black wire, this clock had the buzzer hooked up too.

outside PA days

Yep, that’s my original Lathem LTR8-128, controlling 120v clocks and 120v buzzers. Outside. Sounds like fun, right?

I have to say, though, that I never destroyed a single piece of equipment doing this. Ever. And I also didn’t die.

Would I recommend others (children) try doing this (at your own risk)? PA system yes, clocks no. Of course, the set of circumstances that led me to do this may never be replicated for anyone else…

outside PA days

No, Megan (the dog) did not pee on the fence. Honest.

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