Burning Man 2016 Project

Updated May 18, 2016: new rotor in diagram. I really like wind-powered projects. Ten years ago I made a wind-powered graywater evaporation device, several years after that I helped Larry “Ember” Breed teach his Gray-B-Gone Evapotron construction courses. But unlike those wind-powered projects, this one doesn’t perform any practical purpose: it just displays the amount of air that has passed the [Read More…]

Wind Load Calculations

Updated May 18, 2016: Use new rotor. See end of post. Burning Man is a bit like an outdoor museum—a museum that can have highway-speed winds! Part of registering an art piece for display is determining the strength of hold downs required to ensure that the art does not tip over or blow away from the wind. The required calculations assume a wind [Read More…]

Design Drawings for Miles

Here is the current structural and mechanical design of Miles. This drawing set includes three views of the piece, an exploded view of the interior mechanism, and detailed drawings of the Geneva device, the main gear, and the worm gear. Later I’ll post a more complete set of measured drawings along with the bill of materials.

Number of Teeth

The rotor on top of Miles spins a worm gear. I want that worm gear to rotate the rightmost digit wheel once for each mile of air that passes by. To get that desired rotation, I need to mount an ordinary gear on that digit wheel. How many teeth must that gear have? Here’s how I approximated that number. A mile of air is 5,280 [Read More…]

Art Deco Font

The details of Miles are inspired by Art Deco screens. Keeping with that theme, the digit wheels will use the Art-Deco–styled font family, ITC Anna. Below is how the digit wheels will display the distance 123.9 miles. In the illustration there are four “digit wheels” and one “fraction wheel.” You can see that these wheels (shown edge-on in white) are separated (gray areas). The [Read More…]

Shape of a Spur Gear

Geneva devices link adjacent digit wheels of Miles. The devices cause 9-to-0 transitions of a digit wheel to advance the wheel on its left by one position. For instance when counting from 19 to 20, the digit wheel that represents the units position advances from 9 to 0. Then through the Geneva device, the digit wheel that represents the tens position advances from [Read More…]

Materials for a Ten-Year Lifetime?

Usually I design Burning Man projects to last for the week. This choice means that wood and metal remain unpainted and that nothing is supposed to get very wet. Then if I want to save a project and return it to the playa in a future year, I need to store it out of the weather, and [Read More…]

Metal Workshop

I’ve been working every day on the fabrication of Miles in this workshop. I think I’m going to complete the project before I need to leave for the Black Rock Desert. Unlike other years, the tools that I’m using are difficult to transport to the desert, and so if I don’t finish the project before leaving, [Read More…]

Cupcake Cafe at Burning Man 2017

Imagine you are walking along one of the roads at Burning Man. While you may be heading toward a particular destination, you welcome distractions. As you pass The Cupcake Cafe, someone emerges with a tray. “Would you like a cupcake?” they say. A handwritten label on the tray says “Cupcakes by Sarah.” The chocolate and [Read More…]

Cafe Infrastructure

Most theme camps in the Black Rock Desert are bars. Why is that? Having brought a sake bar to Burning Man, I can say that bars are easy. To create a bar camp, aside from hanging wall decorations, I just needed to bring sake and prepare to wash sake cups. Working the event was easy: I [Read More…]

New Shelter?

I’ve been bringing the same 26-foot-diameter wooden dome to Burning Man for 12 years. While I could continue to bring it for years to come, it takes much time to assemble and take down, and its cover is not dust tight. Since The Cupcake Cafe needs a dust-free environment, either the dome’s cover needs to be improved or [Read More…]

Two Freezers on a Generator?

The freezer will need to run 24/7, and so I’ll bring my Honda EU2000i generator and refill its gasoline tank throughout the week. To conserve gasoline, the EU2000i has an “Eco-Throttle” mode that keeps the generator in idle. The generator still outputs 115 volts, but at low capacity. When the generator senses a large electrial load it opens its throttle and [Read More…]

Architecture: Intimacy Gradient

I am inspired by architect Christopher Alexander’s book A Pattern Language. One of its sections, Pattern 127 Intimacy Gradient, recommends ordering the spaces of a building so that public areas are closest to the entrance and private areas are more distant. Following this pattern creates what is called an “intimacy gradient” because the intimacy of adjacent spaces increases gradually as one moves toward [Read More…]

The TRAPPIST-1 Chord

Update: Since the original announcement, astronomers have obtained more accurate estimates of the planets’ orbital periods, including the period of a seventh planet. This post has been updated with the new data. In February, 2017, astronomers announced that the nearby star TRAPPIST-1 has seven Earth-like planets. The orbital periods of the planets have nearly integer ratios. When periods are [Read More…]

After Burning Man 2017

Well, that was quite an adventure! After nine days in the desert running the theme camp “Cupcake Cafe” at Burning Man, I returned to the house exhausted but satisfied. I need to say that having excellent campmates makes it easier to run things. Here’s how everything went. Cupcakes and Frosting The whole point of the [Read More…]

Retro Pedicab

I’d like to bring an art car to Burning Man that looks like a 1950s diner and that will let me transport people on the playa while listening to popular 1950s songs. However, having an art car at Burning Man requires dealing with the Burning Man Department of Mutant Vehicles. Don’t get me wrong! I [Read More…]

Dusty Diner Progress

Many thanks to Stacy who suggested the project name “Dusty Diner”! Platform Trike Options. The Worksman Cycles Model STPT front-loading Platform Trike has several options. I’m considering these: Parking Brake — to prevent it from rolling downwind Kevlar-Belted Tires and Puncture-Resistant Tubes – to avoid changing tires Extra Wide Saddle – for added comfort 28-Tooth Front Sprocket – to [Read More…]

Dusty Diner’s Juke-O-Matic

The Dusty Diner needs music! Diners of the 1950s had juke boxes filled with single-play records. “Wallboxes” on the tables of each booth let you play any of the songs by inserting a coin into a wallbox and pressing a pair of buttons corresponding to the song that you wanted to hear. I’ve called the [Read More…]

Burning Man 2018 Project

At Burning Man some participants bluster that they experience 60 to 70 MPH winds every day. “Bluster” is an anemometer constructed from a 13-foot commercial lamppost. The piece has an illuminated bargraph that shows the current wind speed and the peak wind speed. In addition, Bluster’s night beacon pulses slowly in a slow wind and [Read More…]

Bluster’s Milestones

A simple project always looks more daunting after one lists its detailed milestones. Last update: August 22, 2018. And it’s done! Anemometer I’m using a modified Adafruit Anemometer to sense the wind speed. The “zero-MPH” value of the original anemometer’s output signal depends on the resting position of the rotor. This problem affects the totalizer, which integrates [Read More…]