Ben Heck Outfits “Expedition Awareness” Jeep

Ben Heck outfits “Expedition Awareness” jeep with cameras to help raise awareness for rare ALD disease in element14’s “The Ben Heck Show”

Modding guru’s latest technology feat helps father film documentary to raise awareness and find a cure for his child and others stricken with terminal disease.

London – June 20, 2011 – element14, the first collaborative community and electronics store for design engineers and electronics enthusiasts, and modding guru Benjamin J. Heckendorn, a.k.a. Ben Heck, retrofit an SUV with custom-mounted remote cameras in preparation for Phil Golden’s “Expedition Awareness.” The 5000+mile cross-country journey is dedicated to raising the awareness of Adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD), a childhood terminal disease affecting 1 in 18,000 boys, and a personal mission for Golden who has an 18-month old son with the illness. Golden turned to Heck to outfit his Jeep® Wrangler Safari with front and back cameras and an internal LCD monitoring system to help his team document their overland travels. 

“I was honoured and humbled when Phil approached me to assist with preparing his SUV for his ‘Expedition Awareness’ quest,” said Heck. “Not only was I able to contribute to such a worthy cause, but designing and programming the camera mounts and viewing system allowed me to show how technology can have an integral role in the way we communicate, educate and inspire each other.”

Modding guru Ben Heck outfits “Expedition Awareness” jeep with cameras to help raise awareness for rare ALD disease in element14’s “The Ben Heck Show”

From writing the code for the stepper drivers to programming the micro controllers for the virtual tripod pan control to routing and finalizing the components for the video display system –  four, four-inch LED backlit LCD screens – the project was a modding labour of love for Heck. Phil and his team will use the cameras to capture each phase of the expedition, beginning with the Continental Divide spanning New Mexico to Canada to a second leg of the journey looking at America’s heartland from the East Coast to West Coast, and culminating in an urban area and off-road exploration of Canada. Designed to instil hope to those touched by ALD, the documentary aims to entertain and educate by combining adventure with information and real-life stories.

“This show, in particular, underscores what the element14 community is about – like-minded individuals coming together to work towards a common goal,” said Kevin Yapp, chief marketing officer, Premier Farnell. “Ben shares his technical inspiration and electronics know-how to lend a helping hand to an incredible cause.”

The action-pack episode also features a guest appearance from engineer and U.S. Paralympics’ Cycling Team member, Sam Kavanaugh, whose journey to the London 2012 games is documented at the element14 Technology in Sports community group.  Kavanaugh  is one of element14’s most inspirational community members, refusing to give up on his passion for cycling after he was caught in an avalanche while backcountry skiing in 2005, resulting in the amputation of his left leg below the knee. element14’s ongoing support of Kavanaugh, who is intimately involved with robotics and technology to support his sporting achievements, underscores the impact and power of technology. 

The element14 community also sponsors two other inspirational Paralympics contenders: cyclist David Stone from the U.K. and boccia competitor Nurul Taha from Singapore. Their stories are also documented at the element14 Technology in Sports group.

For more information and to participate in Golden’s expedition, visit http://www.expedition-awareness.org/ALD/HOME.html.  In addition, show fans are invited to join the element14 community to send Ben a challenge for a future build, engage with community members and enter for a chance to win one of Ben’s recent builds.

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