The Yarn Phone

The Yarn Car has a working, yarn-covered phone inside!

When you pick it up, you hear dial tone, and you can make a call. If you're going for a ride with me, feel free to call your mom and tell her where you'll be.

When someone calls me, it rings. And I get to say to my passengers, "Excuse me, I have a call on the Yarn Phone." I live for that.

The secret: The phone's cord runs down the crack between the front seats and into a supremely gadgety gadget called a Dock-N-Talk, which enables any regular phone to be used as an "extension" of a cell phone. So even though you're dialing your mom's number and talking to her on a regular phone (well, a yarn-covered regular phone), behind the scenes you're actually using my cell phone.

But wait, the gadgetry doesn't end there! The Dock-N-Talk has an optional Bluetooth module. Bluetooth is a wireless networking protocol with a range of about 30 feet. My cell phone also speaks Bluetooth, so when it gets within 30 feet of the Dock-N-Talk, they find each other automatically. I don't have to plug the cell phone into the Dock-N-Talk, or even take it out of my pocket -- it all just magically works!

The last piece of gadgetry is a cord from Radio Shack that takes power from a standard cigarette lighter (fortunately a 1967 Imperial has four cigarette lighters, for all your smoking needs), and reduces the voltage to 9 volts. Coupled with a Radio Shack AdaptaPlug model "N", it connects to the Dock-N-Talk's power port.

Let's trace the sequence of events, shall we? Sitting there in the passenger seat as we barrel down the road, you say, "Hi Mom, I'm calling you from the Yarn Car!" A microphone in the Yarn Phone's handset converts that sound into an analog electrical signal. The signal travels through the copper wires of a phone cord to the Dock-N-Talk, which is powered by a 40-year-old cigarette lighter whose makers couldn't have imagined what futuristic, non-smoking-oriented purpose it would ultimately serve in the distant 21st century.

The Dock-N-Talk diverts the analog signal to its Bluetooth module, which encodes it as a stream of digital packets, and peeps them out through its puny radio transmitter to the cell phone in my pocket a few feet away. The cell phone re-encodes that packet stream into digital packets of a different sort, and blasts them at the nearest cell tower, perhaps miles away. The stream is routed into a mysterious humming gizmotron that re-encodes it as a stream of yet a different kind of digital packet, and feeds it into the public telephone network.

The packets, now embodied as pulses of light, travel across the country through a vast woven tapestry of fiber optic cables, to a nondescript building near your mother's neighborhood. There, another humming gizmotron converts them back into an analog electrical signal, and sends it down a pair of copper wires to your mother's house and through the maze of narrow spaces between her walls, past abandoned drywall trowels and a mouse with a cute sniffy nose, to the phone jack in the wall. The phone in your mom's hand receives the signal, and a little speaker next to her ear produces a low-fidelity but uncanny imitation of your voice saying "Hi Mom, I'm calling you from the Yarn Car!" about a third of a second after you actually said it. That sound vibrates her eardrum, which converts the sound into a stream of electrochemical impulses that branch out in all directions through neural pathways in her brain, evoking feelings of maternal love and pride. She says, "That's nice, dear. Now come home, supper's almost ready." And the entire sequence happens again in reverse, all the way back to the Yarn Phone in your hand.

Groovy, eh?