For sysadmins with an ache for the open road, these Ford E350 4x4 vans, complete with telescoping 10.6m mast, are data centres on wheels.
Eleven of the vans were built by EMI Technologies in the '90s for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to monitor radio frequency interference. That's why in addition to the 10.6m antenna mast, each of the vans has a massive air-conditioning unit inside, complete with in-wall duct work, as well as Onan 6.5K generators mounted inside a standard 19-inch server rack. A couple of them even have flip-down desks and rear-facing captain's chairs for pulling all-nighters.
EMI Technologies is still building similar vehicles for government agencies, but when I called them this morning they didn't have a whole lot to say about the vehicles. "How they were used might be classified," one man told me. But probably not - given the NTIA's purview, it's more likely these were used to make sure broadcast television stations weren't overstepping their spectrum or something.
What makes them a real deal are the vans themselves. Adam, the man who is selling the one with the lowest miles, said he'd probably let it go for around $US16,000. That's a fantastic deal for a dually van with the Quigley 4x4 conversion, even if it is over 10 years old. I know this because I've been out pricing vans to convert into an ersatz Sportsmobile. I nearly wept when I saw these, because living in an impractical 4x4 van with an antenna mast tall enough to get a strong 3G signal on a remote mountaintop is my idea of heaven. I'm just not sure that there'd be enough living space inside for me and my dog next to the antenna pole and the 19-inch rack, even if I did remove the ridiculously large A/C unit. But love would find a way.