DIY: A/V Equipment Hardshell Cases

I realize that this might be premature, but I’m too excite not to blog about this. A few weeks ago, I got it in my head that it would be handy to have some hard cases to make my digital gear more portable. Not just more portable, but more portable and safe. You see, I go to a lot of conferences, and I go out in the world and give talks about digital storytelling, composing with digital media, and using digital tools in the writing classroom. And I teach at DMAC at Ohio State each summer which is a two-week commitment, and I need my gear. It’s not like I’m on the road a lot or anything, but certainly I get around enough to make me want to simplify my gear-carting practices, and to keep my stuff more safe.

Um… proper hard cases are really expensive. Really expensive. Hundreds-of-dollars expensive. The main thing I need is to be able to cart around an extra monitor on these trips. It’s not that I’m not productive with just my laptop screen, but I’m soooo much more productive with a second screen. And I also work on site for a small, local car dealership (which my brother owns) doing market research and database construction. I’ve been taking my extra monitor (a 23″ Dell, which I love) with me on these trips, and I kept the original packing materials for purposes just like this. But they’re pretty inconvenient. First of all, the box is cardboard. Read: not durable, especially when transporting in the rain. Second, styrofoam is fine, but it’s not actually all that protective. No where near the protection of foam padding. And I’d like my monitor to last, darn it.

Naturally, I thought of a hard case for the monitor. Too much dough. Wow. I have no idea why those things are that expensive, or why even professionals bother to pay that much. Whew.

So I cam up with the idea that I’d use a hard suitcase to transport my stuff instead. Much cheaper. I could pick one up on ebay for about $40, including shipping. And that’s sooooo much cheaper than the professional stuff. But I was patient. Probably to an inefficient extent (OCD alert!). I waited until I could snag what I though was a good deal. Maybe I could find something with a horrible color or a bunch of scratches that no one else would want. I don’t know. I do know that I wasn’t in a hurry, and there was a pretty steady supply of these things on both ebay and Craigslist. I was just looking for a single, hard suitcase at least 23″ across, and I had pretty much acknowledged that I was going to have to pay at least $35-40.

To make a long story a bit longer, I ended up snagging a beautiful set of hard case American Tourister luggage for $15. Four pieces. Three hard cases and a sort of laptop bag thing. And their condition is amazing. Pristine on the inside, with a few scratches on the outside. Soon enough, I’ll line them with foam padding (still not sure where to pick this up), and I’ll have about $300 worth of cases for about $40. How cool is that?

I’ve included links throughout the post to give you an idea of what they look like. Feel free to comment, share your own DIY hard-case ideas, or offer some advice about where I might be able to pick up some foam for the inside of the cases.

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