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Self-taught Jamaican engineer’s model Hummer powered by solar energy

It is hard to believe that Carl ‘Alie’ Smith has never had formal training in electronics, for his creations unquestionably exhibit the input of a skilled engineer.

In fact, formal training for the 36-year-old stopped at 9th Grade at the Ewarton All-Age school (now Ewarton Secondary) in St Catherine. Smith, however, insists that his latest project, a model Hummer he built from scratch using ‘kerosene tins’ and electronic kits, is totally his conception. His only help, he says, has been the Internet – for electronic diagrams and twice to order special parts.

 

Smith prepares his Hummer for a demonstration.

 

“I have pictures and videos working on each stage to show,” he tells Auto.

Smith says that his first involvement in electronics came some 18 years ago when a radio he bought with the last of his savings dropped and was broken.

“I bought the pocket radio for $60. It dropped and broke up; I never stopped until I got it fixed,” he recalls. “I even had to use an ice pick as a solder bolt to repair it.”

The enterprising Old Harbour resident says he has, since then, built seven model trucks, converted a ceiling fan to generate electricity and is now an accomplished auto-electronic technician.

 

Rear view showing the speakers and CD console.

 

But it’s his Hummer that is undoubtedly the feather in his cap.

Over the last two years, he has constructed all on his own this fantastic replica of the popular GM-designed Hummer that could easily leave the originators of the vehicle in awe.

 

Front view with open bonnet and doors.

 

Completed earlier this year, Smith’s model Hummer, which cost him some $300,000 to build, is chock-full of features that literally boggle the mind of onlookers.

At first glance the workmanship and finish of the model are enough to draw commendations. But there is far more under the hood, so to speak.

Every detail is considered: the doors open with the use of chromed handles, seats recline, there is a working suspension and real rubber tyres, windows wind up and down and the vehicle even has its own air conditioning unit.

 

A close-up of the photovoltaic panel on the roof.

 

“Just like a computer, the circuit has to be cooled so I used an AC instead of a fan,” a soft-spoken Smith explains.

The vehicle is powered by a photovoltaic solar panel on the roof, feeding a car battery and inverter under the bonnet. Headlights work, windscreen wipers work, but those are incidentals.

Behind its alluring appearance, the Hummer is also an effective music and entertainment system.

“It is able to pick up CVM and TVJ,” Smith shares.
Inside the vehicle are two TV monitors and a CD/DVD player; midrange and tweeter speakers are also fitted. A 14-inch woofer box attached to the Hummer via cable completes the sound.

 

Driving the Hummer

Although Auto never saw it demonstrated, Smith says that the vehicle can be driven by remote from as far as three miles away.

“I can do it even from six miles away if I wanted,” he says, adding that his Hummer can be driven even if it is not within sight

A remote console housing a TV monitor and two joy sticks is at the heart of the system while mini cameras at the front and rear of the Hummer transmit pictures to the console.

The system, Smith reveals, was adapted from those used in flying large model planes. “That is why I can control it from such a distance as those planes need a powerful remote,” an enthusiastic Smith tells Auto.

Smith’s first public showing of the Hummer was at the recent Red Bull Art of Can exhibition launch at Devon House, then again at last Saturday’s Motor Show held at the Police Officers Club in Kingston.

“I am getting some good exposure,” he remarked.

Despite his enthusiasm, however, the obviously talented Smith has an unfortunate tale about other trucks he has made in the past.

“I sent two trucks up to Canada three years ago and I have not received any money yet.

“I said I wanted US$5,000 each and he said he sold one for US$10,000, I only heard from him again this year when he wanted the Hummer,” Smith said, while declining to reveal the purchaser’s identity.

He adds that the purchaser has now hooked him up with a GM car dealer in Florida who is requesting that the Hummer be sent to the US first before payments are made.

“He has to come to Jamaica to get it,” Smith declared.

How much is his Hummer worth? Smith is uncertain, but he says he has received an offer of US$60,000 from the GM dealer.

 

Source: Jamaica Observer



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