"I drive an old beater Toyota truck. I don't eat out much, because I can cook," he says. "I live with girlfriends. I can survive on $150 a month."

The one thing he doesn't mind spending money on is his SCA hobby. There's a $35 annual membership fee and there's the cost of materials for his armor and weapons, which can run from hundreds to thousands of dollars. His costume took several years to assemble, piecemeal.

Fortunately for Rohrich, the City of Avondale's purchase of the S.P.E.A.R. went through a few days before the SCA's annual Estrella War, a weeklong campout in February at Canyon Moon Ranch in Florence. So he and Woodbury got a paycheck just before leaving and were able to drink as much beer and swing as much wood as they wanted.

Jamie Peachey
Jamie Peachey


Though he's often a sweaty mess at SCA battles, Simon Rohrich's office at Elliptical Mobile Solutions is tidy. There are no posters on the wall, no fingerprints or smudges on his flat-screen computer monitor, no dust on the keyboard, nothing stacked on his computer tower. There's a place for everything, including the giant battle-ax propped up against the wall in the corner. "I got that for my birthday this year," Rohrich says with a grin.

Behind the offices and laboratory, there's a deluxe RV parked along the back wall. It's got all the amenities of a regular RV — bathroom, kitchenette, couches — but this vehicle is more advanced than any RV on the market. In addition to a high-definition TV that rises from the floor and provides satellite TV and GPS, the RV also has its own Wi-Fi connection and can store multiple computers and data systems onboard.

The RV was the predecessor of the S.P.E.A.R., designed to show potential investors how well a mobile computing and data system can work. The company procured 36 investors for the S.P.E.A.R. project by touring the RV around Arizona. "The technology we had inside it was so advanced, and the RV was so amazing, that no one questioned us," Rohrich says.

Conceptualization of the S.P.E.A.R began in 2004, and its creation took almost three years. It was an intensive process for everybody involved. Woodbury made the parts, and Rohrich conducted much of the research and worked with the company's attorney on filing patents.

"My business card doesn't have a title because I do so many different things," Rohrich says. "But my favorite title is 'technology evangelist,' because I sort of evangelize people to the methodology of saving energy and how we're doing it."

Rohrich studied computer science at NAU for a year but got bored and didn't feel challenged. That was the end of his formal education. He and Woodbury are both self-taught inventors. They don't have science or technology degrees; what they have is five years' worth of toiling, trial, and error.

"We never went to school to learn that we couldn't do something," Rohrich says. "If you're creative or non-conformist, you'll probably never reach the upper levels of college because you're not good at jumping through hoops. So we find solutions in very creative ways."

John Robertson, a professor of engineering technology at Arizona State University's Polytechnic campus who's worked with companies like Intel and Motorola, says an invention like the S.P.E.A.R. could be invaluable in protecting and moving data, especially with technology moving at such a rapid pace.

"If you had told me five years ago that I could have a terabyte [1,000 gigabytes] of data on my desktop, I'd say you were crazy," Robertson says. "But now, it's easy to use it up. One [college] course on my computer can take up that much space. So we could always use more space, and moving quantities of data is quite difficult — it takes a lot of time. I imagine a lot of small businesses would like it because you could easily wheel it from machine to machine or room to room."

Protecting data in any environment — which the S.P.E.A.R. purports to do — is vital, Robertson says. "The value is not in the computer; it's in what you've got on it — the data," he says. "If you've got a computer with three years of work on it, multiply your salary by three and that's the value of the computer. Anybody who's lost files or data on their computer knows that it can be disastrous. It can wreck everything. So any product that can minimize the risk of data loss is important."

In the beginning, Rohrich admits, he didn't know what he was even looking for most of the time. People would say they needed a part for the S.P.E.A.R that did a certain thing, and they'd try to think of something else that did that same thing. Even if they didn't know what to call it, Rohrich would scour the Internet until he discovered that particular thing and the mechanics that made it do what it did. Then he'd give the information to Woodbury, who fabricated the parts — all 14,282 of them.

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6 comments
buffalobills515
buffalobills515

Love the story. It is great to hear a fellow SCA guy doing great things in the world. I will need to put a post about this inventive warrior on my medieval blog

Dennis Ward
Dennis Ward

Simon used to work with/for me a few years ago at ValueOptions. He's a gentle giant and I'd definitely want him in my corner.Glad things are going good for you, Simon.

Simon Rohrich
Simon Rohrich

I hope you have been practicing. ;-)Thank you for the doubleedged compliment. You and you household are formidable. I do ride on my rep. I don't hurt anyone on purpose. Any injury I cause that results in financial loss I feel terrible about.

see you in two weeks,thank you in advance-Nerd of War-

BammBamm
BammBamm

Only the bravest men dare poke the bear. Let alone 2 of them. See you @ practice

Leo
Leo

Its about freaking time you guys did a story on the SCA here in Arizona and the fact that you did one about Simon shows some actual intelligence. Simon is a straight thug and the inventor of the phrase "militant geeks" Alot of the time though he rides to much on his reputation as a bone breaker. He hurts one guy a year and the rest of the year everybody in the game is like "OOOH here comes Simon and Bam BAm." But us Romans have no fear and Constantly have to show the rest of the community that he isnt that mean. Believe me though when I step on the field the first thing I do is look for Simon cause when he hits you and your not aware of it its like being struck by a runaway train. But if your ready for him he falls just like all the rest. Good luck selling your Spear Brother and remember Saterday Night at Highlands is the bucket party swing by your more then welcome LORD LEO Roman Thunder

 
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