The Hacksmith: Drive-in Movie Projector

By The Hacksmith

Hacksmith Industries has been making a James Bond-inspired spy car from a 1979 MGB MK4 that was donated by a fan over the summer. The team has a variety of upgrades planned for the car, ranging from missile launchers under the headlights to a bullet-proof back window. So far, the MK4 has an ejection seat. While most of the planned upgrades are for escaping would-be pursuers in car chases, the second upgrade focuses on something else James Bond is famous for: romancing the ladies.

Remember when drive-in movie theaters were still a thing? These were the classic staples of old-timey dates and often a setting in horror movie massacres of unwitting teenagers (along with your various “make-out points”). Although the drive-ins have gone extinct, the MK4 spy car is bringing them back (minus the horror movie massacres) with its own movie projector that rises from behind the seats. A portable movie theater requires AC power, so the team assembled a power management system for all upcoming gadgets while they were at it! See how it works in the video below.


Powering a Spy Car

Although most consumer electronics (like the projector) run on DC power, they usually contain an AC-to-DC converter so they can be powered by AC wall sockets. The spy car’s gadgets are powered by a 12V DC car battery, which left the team having to choose between taking apart gadgets to remove their converters or making the car’s power supply go from DC to AC, then back to DC. The latter was the preferred option because it makes implementing new gadgets easier.

To accomplish this, a 120V AC power inverter is added to the circuit to go between the DC car battery and the internal power supplies of devices like the projector. The projector uses lasers and is much more power efficient than old-timey projectors that use Xenon lamps (About 1500 watts). The laser only consumes around 150 watts. With a 2000-watt power inverter, there is a lot of room left for more gadgets!

Circuit Schematic and BOM


A spy car wouldn’t be complete without hidden buttons and flashing lights in the center console to control your gadgets. Opening the ashtray reveals 3 hidden switches which lets you power on the inverter and raise the projector. The mechanism uses linear actuators that run on DC power, so a 20V DC power supply goes between the inverter and the actuators. When the power button is pressed, a green power indicator button lights up to show that the inverter is powered. After that, you’re ready to project your movie! All you need now is a date...

More Hacksmith Vehicle Creations

If you’d like to see more Hacksmith vehicle projects, be sure to check out the Batmobile Baja projects on!