The past couple years I’ve added some interesting pieces to my setup. In early 2021 it was the DIY Modular Booth. In late 2021 it was my Toadmatic 43″ Performancematic rolling booth that I had sketched in 2019 before Toad made something very similar. But there was a missing piece in all this, something in 2019 I had draw as well to add to my setup, a “Big Wheel” Ceremony Cart to get my equipment in and out of those less than ideal ceremony locations. But before we dive into that let’s take a little tour of what exists already.
History Of Audio Carts And Big Wheels
So off the bat it’s not like I am just some crazy design guy coming up with things out of the sky. This has the origins of what I have see pro audio set engineers use as a mobile audio cart to capture for things like film.
Above is just a sample of many pro-audio carts that people have put together. Some are from existing cases, one even a Rubbermaid tub. But many are made of 8020 Extruded Aluminum profiles. This material has been around for a while and is truly the Legos of the adult world. You can make damn near anything out of it with the right budget behind it. Some uses in the DJ world goes back as far as Kenny Q’s massive TV display and sliding deck platform, to the Toadmatic offerings that have become a popular option among some DJs.
Now some people will point out that since these pre-build audio carts already exist, and even Toad makes the Toadium why not go that route? Well there are a few requirements I had that could not be offered by what was out there.
My Ceremony Cart Requirements
So there were a few things that was needed to check off for my needs
- Big wheels to be able to get in and out of bad terrain including woodsy trails, crushed floor beds, tall grass, marshy fields, even sand (although have not had a beach ceremony).
- Lightweight to carry the frame on it’s own
- Ability to disassemble or add to my major components quickly
- Try to keep costs to under $1000 complete
There was one requirement I kept on going back and forth on. Do I make this a full enclosed rack or essentially a modular case hauler.
The two designs I have are pretty similar to each other, with a tad of refinement. The first is from 2019, the second is essentials what got built.
So why in the hell did this take so long to make? Indecisions! I kept on flipping around the ideas of a rack mount version vs. the case cart version. For some time I was about to go full rack but I had some weddings in 2023 that were going to require >4 microphones. That made me go the route of modular design and ultimately what got built.
The Ordering Process
Now you can order everything directly from 8020.net however I wanted to get a reality check from people more intimately familiar with the materials. I ended up going through The Knotts Company to affirm the design and make any suggestions. Now they were generally helpful but a bit slow on response. We toggled between the two designs, even one time they came up with the weirdest mashup of both designs that would beat Frankenstein any day of the week.
The 80/20 Build Of Materials
Yep I am going to throw it all out here. I won’t include line item prices because that will fluctuate over time, however this is what I used to built my cart. I am going to modify a couple pieces slightly and explain below.
- 2x 32.75″ length 1515-LS-Black Profiles (the rear posts)
- 3x 19.50″ length 1515-LS-Black Profiles (center posts)
- 2x 12.00″ length 1515-LS-Black Profiles (bottom posts)
- 2x 05.00″ length 1515-LS-Black Profiles (front feet)
- 1x 22.50″ length 1530-LS-Black Profile (wheel/axle support)
- 1x 25″ length 5030 1″ Aluminum Tube (handle)
- 2x 5860 Stanchion Base (handle clamps)
- 4x 3471 Stanchion Screws
- 4x 4302-Black Corner Brackets (joiners for base profile and 1530 profile)
- 2x 4350-Black Angled Flat Plate
- 6x 4351-Black Angled Flat Plate
- 2x 4480-Black T Plate (joiner for back profile – added stiffness)
- 54x 3320 Black FBHSCS with Slide-In Economy T-Nut
- 6x 2030 End Caps
- Cut To Length costs for the T-Slot profiles
Now I had a couple things I ended up not needing in my original Build Of Materials, and I ended up picking up 2 more of the angled flat plates just to add some ridgendness to the base. Overall anticipate this complete kit to cost you around $620 plus shipping.
The Extra Pieces
Not everything will come from 80/20 and from a price perspective that is good. For instance you can order wheels from there but it’s very expensive. So here is the tally of the non-80/20 pieces that got this put together.
- 2x 14″ Maxpower Plastic Wheel (You gotta move the cart)
- 1x 0.5″ x 36″ Zinc Rod (the axle)
- 1x 5-Pack Stage Light Clamps
- 2x Manfrotto 099B Extension Pole (35″ > 92″)
- 1x Magnet Movers
- 4x 5/16-18 3/4″ Screws (replacement screws for the O-Clamps)
- 1x SKB 1SKB-R4S 4U Shallow Rack Case
- 1x SKB 1SKB-R6S 6U Shallow Rack Case
- 1x Sennheiser A1031-U Omni IEM Antenna
- 1x RF Venue Diversity Fin Antenna
- 3x BNC Cables (for the antennas)
OK I know some people will wonder “why magnet movers”. Well I’ve literally been on the hunt for years with the original design of how I lock in the cases from SKB that have these clever interlocks. They are 1.25″ wide and about 0.25″ deep and short of creating a wood piece or having someone fasten it out of metal I was stuck. And there I saw one of those magnet toys on my record shelf and it was the literal perfect size. Even the hole punch for it fit the screw-and-nut combo from 8020. So if you are building this with the SKB Shallow or Regular roto cases in mind, this will work perfectly. Minus those cases you are looking at $280 for these extra pieces. If you need the cases add around $450. Need the antennas? $780 for those.
Since I already owned the cases, it really just came down to the cart pieces itself. But I had to add a $20 aluminum circular blade for some trimming and I had those little magnets as well. So my total all in cost was $920.
It’s so funny that the entire project is so compact when it’s delivered. The pieces are well wrapped together to not move and is generally protected by paper. If you order it through a company that helps to design they will typically label things so you know where everything goes together.
As always of any project like this lay everything out and make sure you’ve accounted for things. You don’t want to be in a project and realize something is missing, damaged, or otherwise forcing you to stop.
Let me say as a newbie of assembling my own 80/20 project this really could not be simpler. If you have your wits about you when it comes to spacial design and general overall making things fit, this should be a breeze. One shortcut to all this is to “pre-load” all your screws and t-nuts. It will help to make this project zoom by.
Essentially the goal here is to only lightly hand tighten things to ensure that things are going to be exactly where they need to be. Sometimes in a project like this you may change your design mid-stride which is a beauty of 80/20 materials.
For instance you’ll see that in photos 4 & 5 above I put a crossmember profile literally on top of the axle holder. Originally this was going to be higher, but I quickly learned just how riged this becomes when really tightened up. So I made a decision to literally stack the T-Bracket right on top to add some rigidity to the most stressed point on this cart, the wheels. There will be absolutely no movement upward of that axle holder with both the L-Bracket and the T-Bracket together.
Now as you see in the last shot the profiles were a bit too long. This became a faux-pas of mine when the company I was working with crossed some wires and went with a deeper design that I was considering for the rack mount. That was my bad not catching it but it was quickly resolved with a non-ferrous metal saw blade and some white grease to reduce the friction for the cuts.
All that was needed to finish things up was to trim the axle and cap it, mount the O-Clamps (which you can pull the centers apart, remove the larger bolt, and put in some proper screws). Oh and slapt those magnets on to help secure the cases.
But Does It Work?
So all this toiling of things the real question remains, does it work well? I can say with confidence those works very well. Things remain secure on the cart with a combination of the flat plates helping it not move left-to-right and those magnets help to not want it to move forward.
So what happens if I decide that a rack mount is really the way to go and not this case mover? Literally a couple extra pieces can convert this into a rolling rack mount case:
- 2x 35.75″ length 1515-LS-Black Profiles (replace the front feet with long posts)
- 2x 12.00″ length 1515-LS-Black Profiles (adds the two top sides)
- 1x 19.50″ length 1515-LS-Black Profiles (adds to the bottom front)
- 2x 4351-Black Angled Flat Plate to join the top of the rack
- 2x 4340-Black Tee Flat Plate to join the bottom of the rack
- 24x 3320 Black FBHSCS with Slide-In Economy T-Nut
- 1x 16U Pair Rack Rails
- PVC covers for all four sides and the top (the front can be removed with having no post on top)
And that is it. In little time at all I could convert this for all new use. Rough cost for this addition is $200.
Now everything is fresh so only after some real-world use cases will everything flesh out with it. That being said the cart is very maneuverable, and while not light it’s not a struggle. Maybe if I am coasting up a hill the weight will remind me that I am not carrying around some plasticy stuff. Everything fits snugly in my trailer and is wedged between items that are strapped in, so it’s not going anywhere. While I don’t need the straps unless I was trying to grind some rails with it, as a piece of mind I’ve added the straps just in case.
The plan is to keep the antennas and their cables always fastened, so it’s up in the air and a couple clicks to the base BNC receptacles and plug in my XLRs and PowerCon and I am off to the races. I’ll post some updates below as time goes on.
I put a lot into my ceremonies. Not too many people can successfully claim that they can work big microphone options with multi-track recording, the ability to broadcast out to battery powered speakers, even micing the bride when necessary. This cart gives me a lot of flexibility to be where I need to be with all the equipment I need in tow. It allows me the modularity that gives me options to swap out or stack equipment when needed. And I think despite it requiring external wiring it is good to look at and highly functional. I should have done this back in 2019.