Sunday, September 9, 2012

No Burner Left Behind

No Burner Left Behind 
 ... aka ... 
A plea to help two excellent burners who met with unexpected and serious financial burden post burn due to their desire to contribute a mutant vehicle to BM 2012

For those that don't burn, please read this and consider the merits of what I say, and maybe, just maybe, it will even inspire you to go that thing in the desert. 

And ... for those who read this that do burn, read it all please, because I think the bitterness tends to jade our vision after years of dust in our brains. 

The true burner knows that Burning Man is an event only made as amazing as it is due to the contributions of so many selfless people who bring their labors and creativity to the wasteland known as the playa. Often, this is a costly affair, with only the lucky few able to coax money out of grants or donations. 

The many who do not have funding still bring their labor of love, but on their own dime, returning with nothing to show for it besides memories and the appreciation of their art by others who like in the dust for the week. 

The financial burden of contributing to burning man is an accepted component of the endeavor, stacking atop the already lofty expenses of ticket prices, travel, food, shelter, and other costs.  Without these generous people, the burn would be half as much, maybe far less.

Every burner knows (and fears) the unexpected cost and most (the truly prepared) ensure that they have the finances to survive an emergency situation, the likelihood of it coming to fruition grows by the mile traveled and each pound of weight.  

For example, this year, the Camp Grrr mutant vehicle cost us an unexpected $1000 (on top of the already hefty costs to make it, keep it running, and hauling it) for an emergency transmission repair job in Bend, Oregon.  But that is a drop in the hat compared to some.

Two of the members of Camp Grrr, Jenn (T-Rex) and Zack (Sick), both very veteran burners, embarked on their first adventure into what it is to bring a mutant vehicle to the playa this year. 

They spent money on a base vehicle, parts, batteries, a new trailer, and they did all of this with eyes wide open, knowing full well that this was money they spent as a gift to other burners, rather on themselves. 

Shortly before the event, they also discovered they were pregnant. Still, they forged ahead, even despite the vehicle not operating correctly, with but the hopes and dreams that they would get their mutant vehicle running on the playa. It didn't happen. 

The Peacock never flew. 

Failure after failure plagued the project before and on the playa. Still, it was not all a loss, as they learned many lessons and even as a work of "still life", it is a beauty and intrigued a many walker-by on the corner of 4:30 & D. It was not what they desired, but they rolled with it, taking it all in stride. 

It was after exodus that the true $$$ burden struck, as their vehicle threw a rod trying to chug the trailer and mutant vehicle up a pass just outside of Reno. Trapped in Truckee, with few options, their costs increased exponentially.  The repair work alone is quoted at $6k-$7k.  This doesn't include the expenses that surround this unfortunate event that have stacked up quickly, trapped far from home.  They haven't landed yet, but I am estimating that another $2k has stacked up from towing, rental vehicles, hotel, and food.

Self reliance, a tenant of the world that manifests at Black Rock, is vital and important, but community should catch the worthy who stumble when plans fail and fate takes it's dues.

They have not asked for money, but I am asking for them. 

These two wonderful people did nothing but try to contribute their vision to the playa and that is what a real burner does. We all have licked our wounds, gone home and started version #2, and repeated the cycle of giving, learning, and improving. 

All of us have been eaten by the unforeseen cost monster that is BM, but in my humble opinion, this is simply too much for this awesome couple, with a child on the way, to endure on their own, especially when the cost is a direct result of trying to share something new and wonderful with others.

If you live in and love that week long of craziness in the dust, or just simply love the fact that there is something out there that defies sensible reason and people will empty their wallets to drag massive metal sculptures into the wastelands to share with the world, please consider kicking in anything to help these two awesome people. 

The Peacock (the short version of the vehicle's name) is pictured (in part) below (the red model-t thingy).  The Peacock will fly next burn, if it kills us, to entertain all, but these two (or is that three technically) people sure could use some good will in the meantime.

How to donate:

Send donations via Paypal, to
I am working on some gifts to people for various levels, but figured I would toss this out there before that had been finalized.  

1x Camp Grrr Dog Tag - $25
2x Camp Grrr Dog Tag - $50
3x Camp Grrr Dog Tag - $75
1x Small metal yard sculpture by me - $100
2x Small metal yard sculpture by me - $200
1x Larger metal yard sculpture by me - $300
For the sculptures, if you are out of the area, I will have to charge something for S&H or work out arrangements to get it to you.  I will keep each person who this applies to updated as I know more on the details.
If you are waiting to donate to see examples, email me at the above email address and I will get on it to provide some examples.

Q: Why Paypal?

A: After looking at the various websites for this, I felt that paypal offered the best option for simplicity, lowest overhead cost of using service (0%-2.9% within the US), and already widespread adoption for most people.  The disadvantage is that it is not an open book, leaving those who donate to trust that the money will be delivered to the intended target in full.

The solution to that one dilemma is simple enough.  Within a day or two of your donation, I will add the $ amount to this page, without your name, but instead a unique ID (sha1 hash for the nerds) that is based on your name (but not easily reversible to reveal your identity).  In addition, I will email you your ID#, the exact part of your name I used to generate it, and a way to verify that the ID was in fact generated from that string.

It is your job to ensure I am being honest by looking here and verifying that your contribution was included in the list (with your unique ID) and is part of the grand total.  

Then, the recipients of the donation can also verify that I have handed over all funds by verifying that the dollar amount posted in the contribution list here is what I give them.

As long as everyone does their part to verify that their contribution is listed and the recipients verify the total $ amount, I will be unable to sneak away to Guam with ill gained $.

Q:  Why not send the money to them directly instead?

A: Like I said, they aren't the ones pushing the idea.  I am.  Also, I don't want to burden them with having to deal with it.  I am volunteering both $ and time to the cause to ease the load of worries they are currently struggling with.  You are more than welcome to donate to them directly if you know them, but it will not go into this verification process.

Contribution Verification List

04a5d6b12a3fe5acd455870a97eda22f2299bb18    ------    $20
0cb58c271533ef06f19821eddaac5869149fba61    ------    $300
11b88897443329eb6d927208108374cc6c0774db    ------    $100
12ef7c9f25e7eeece4e61161a656ae3c36ed2e08    ------    $100
2c43002f903c71d6cefcab23617fb103ed33a026    ------    $100
41218b37d5ef0fe5e33d0a3f8414979c50dd95b1    ------    $50
50006e35b585cec7949840da4cf6e4af56bff9d1    ------    $50
5114ab3e42f5e3ab93980418d4d24362dd2d5489    ------    $300
6f91c2c77a38c43ebedc9cb5ef4fc6a8a2045dd0    ------    $50
8e1ff95e90790a4777a71e82717e9c00dc7a5fad    ------    $100
b7b6093e6bdd33a6753efa39a1efcf11e59d76b5    ------    $50
be6f36d396e5dc3daf360a9f3190f3c6d0b9ded3    ------    $25
bfe336bcb0e65d407ce3b86ff4c408a1650ea20a    ------    $300
c5a88a5014a764b8f7d8024b3cead2d9eb106777    ------    $500
cb8991cfbd8bedbbbd611e539f8f5eca5b52cc2f    ------    $300
d05e613b6a0cade269f8b0e1060ce92d08c87bb8    ------    $300
f3a99bcd29496f19c84840a41560e0801bd5fd33    ------    $20
f5fdf57bdee3578bd8edd721497c316ed15cd9cd    ------    $300
fdbb844a0e2f6027a5edda04f3d5bcb5aef49529    ------    $100

Grand Total: $3065

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Hearts for Parts! - Camp Grrr's burning man art car fund raiser #1

Heart for Parts ~ Pre Burningman 2011 ~ Sale!!!*
Help Camp Grrr raise funds for our mutant vehicle trailer and modifications (more bling!) and get a cool piece of jewelry at the same time!

Here is the deal ... after Burning Man, these sell for $88 minimum and the profits are not donated to the mutant vehicle. We need extra funds to bring our moving art so 50,000+ people can experience our madness, so we are having a buy now, get AFTER bman sale!

Our need was such short notice that we will be unable to deliver them before burning man itself, but we have sold and delivered dozens of them, so rest assured, we will send you the piece as soon after burning man as we can with post haste!!!

Gear Heart - $60 + $3 U.S. S&H
  • Cast in sterling silver (gold and white gold available on request)
  • Hard to see in the picture, but the necklace ring is also a gear!!!
  • Chain not included (see below) - A nice, soft black cord included
  • "Grrr" and burning man figure etched into the back
Heart Stitches - $65 + $3 U.S. S&H
  • Cast in sterling silver (gold and white gold available on request)
  • Copper stitching woven through the cracked silver heart
  • Chain not included (see below) - A nice, soft black cord is included
  • "Grrr" and burning man figure etched into the back
Want to help, but don't like either design? We will have at least one more design (a more masculine version ... as people have requested) coming in the near future, so stay tuned (email me and I will keep a list of folks who want to be updated).

Chain not included
- We can order them for you! Check out our chain page - click here!

Please note, these chain prices are from last year, so ask us what current prices are before sending money.

Shipping & Handling

  • $3 within U.S., $5 for two
  • Outside of the U.S. will be determined on a per case basis.

Payment (+ S&H)

PayPal to lunatechfalls(at)
email roboyeti(at) for

Snail Mail address

Send questions to roboyeti(at)

After materials cost, every dollar goes towards the art car!

Help us spread the word!!! Even if you are not interested, please considering sharing this with people who might be. Thanks!

What the heck is this all about????

Camp Grrr is the burning man camp that I started two years ago. I am pushing the envelope again and making Camp Grrr a camp that contributes something new to the event every year! After much deliberating in my own brain, I decided last year that an art car was the best of all options for our first creative contribution to this incredible event. And we did it! Those of you who contributed to it with the first hearts for parts drive will be happy to know we got a monster to the playa. It wasn't exactly what we set out to do, but it was well received.

The economy has really nailed our group over 2011, and we are coming up short on trailer rentals, changes required by the BM DMV, as well as money to fine tune the machine with more decor and more lights. We really want to up our game again, but could use the extra funds, and don't you really really want one of these awesome hearts!?!?! Yes you do! :-)

Here is the vehicle (night):
And daytime:

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Grrrsect : A partial first glimpse

From Grrrsect : Camp Grrr mutant vehicle sketch up

Well, it has been really slow getting the ball rolling on this project and in my mind, I had already re-allocated the project as my personal year long hobby to be ready for 2011.

Thanks to the enthusiasm and labor of a few members of the camp (and one BM virgin as of yet), I think there is at least some chance we can pull it off ... and as people get excited, the chance goes up!

After some soul searching, some pocket book frowning, and fussing about, I have decided to go ahead with the excitement flow and try to get it back on the 2010 BM track. App submitted (last minute), final materials getting purchased (ouch! - HELP!), and all spare time being allocated.

We are still somewhat under funded (click for our fund raising) , and could really use more labor help, but all in all, we are starting to make real progress and the speed of accomplishment is increasing now that we have a decent work zone, the core crew has been trained in working metal and welding, and as we learn what works the best for each process.

We have the vehicle, it is a BEAST (will grab a pic of it soon)! We have been welding and bending metal like crazy the last couple weeks. Everybody is learning fast and I can happily say that I finally feel like we are on track at last.

Last weekend, I finally got the spare bandwidth as the crew has become more self reliant, to get started on the structural underpinnings of it all: the base steel frames, the new insect robotic legs, and the support steel & pivot mechanics for the wings.

It is my hope, now that the crew has the skillz, the concept, and design templates to work with, that I can spend July finishing the fabrication of these core components, so that August is final assembly, safety device install, lighting, and finishing the wiring.

I will try to update this with more pictures soon, but here is the first salvo: the crew at work (day 1 of teaching the natives to weld, cut, grind, heat bend, cold bend etc) and some of the works in progress (at least example photos of bits that might make some sense to the viewer). We have many more components in the works already and should easily have the entire carapace and wings fully formed by the end of July.

Some example components and parts

Teaching day - Metal 101 !

From Grrrsect : Camp Grrr mutant vehicle sketch up

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Blue moon ...

A fun and silly New Year's project for Catamara's Blue Moon New Years Party ... behold, the 36" in diameter glowing blue moon prop.

Behold ... the monster blue ball ... err ... I mean moon ... if only I had made two of them ;-)

Started with a 36" diameter balloon from Display & Costume, and gooped tissue paper and paper towel on it with "Sculpt or Coat" (about 4-5 layers of the paper/coating).

The lighting is 3 DMX RGB LED fixtures (not in DMX mode for deployment this time around), but allows the colors to be changed etc.

I could have used less had I done this project the way I intended, which was to put the light inside the moon, but it hasn't had time enough to dry and/or enough coatings to make it stiff enough to survive well without the balloon still in it and inflated. That is the ultimate plan if I decide to keep it ... which I need to do soon ... before the balloon deflates much more (or try to inflate a new one inside the shell).

This is the same technique I used for my glowing giant spider eggs (smaller balloons), and maybe this blue moon will return as an uber giant spider egg.

It might also make a great BM fishing lure on a death machine art car, kind of like the deep sea fish with the glowing bulbs on the end of the strange protrusion .... yes ... lure those little X sucking ravers into deadly jaws with a huge glowing treat!

Anyways ... I have said more on this subject than it really demands. Happy New Years!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Electro plated cranium anyone?

So I convinced Amy (of Bee Girl Metal and my heart) that she should dig out her electroplating machine to plate her own work, instead of paying the rather steep price to have someone else do it.

To be honest, I think I had her get it out as much for me as for her ... I had purchased a bunch of mink skulls that I wanted to try plating as an experiment for a burning man idea.

So, after the dust settled from Pumpkin Prowl, she took over the kitchen for her evil experiments and I watched, learned, and starting sneaking in my own plating experiments (not really, but it sounds more mysterious that way ... ).

First, I was slightly surprised that the machine was just a big AC-DC adjustable linear power supply (0-30 volts, 20 amp max output).

I mean ... I wasn't actually THAT surprised, since I already understood the fundamentals and I had done electroplating in some grade school science class with a couple batteries, but I really did presume that a commercial grade machine (even an archaic one) would be more than a DC bench power supply. So, probably half of the people that will ever read this already have a commercial grade plating machine in their workshop or garage ... including myself.

Electroplating is just strange enough that it balances between science and art. The instructions on the bottle of solution are just simply vague, and a little thought and experimentation will improve the results.

The setup is relatively simple:

* Electroplating machine (AC-DC bench supply, 2-4 volts is working range of all solutions below, 5amp minimum, 10amp would be more ideal to prevent fuse melting).

* Pyrex glass containers (lab or more common oven cookware). You will need one per solution, and if you are plating metal, you will need one for the cleaner (if you choose to use it). These all need to be big enough to immerse your object into. If you use oven cookware Pyrex, you might want to make sure that it can be placed directly on a heat source ... it often says what it is safe for use with on the bottom of the Pyrex container itself.
  • DO NOT USE GLASS! Amy did not heed my warnings on this, and she did actually explode a jar of cleaning solution (caustic!!!!) all over the oven. I love that girl ... such a mad scientist!!!
  • After that fun and excitement, I added another pyrex container to the mix, one large enough to hold all of the others while they heated (see next step).
* Heat source (some solutions so not require heating, bright copper, for example, does not). 180F was maximum needed temp for our purposes. We used the stove top and a thermometer. After the jar explosion, I added a larger pyrex cookware container to the mix, one that all of the others could fit in while they were on the stove. To this container (a shallow baking dish) I added water, presuming that it would govern temperature change better on the glassware ... and it worked great!

* Solution ... this is the expensive part ... or can be depending on the metal of choice. This is the dissolved metal concoction that the object will be plated in.

* Anodes that match your solution needs. Sometimes this is the same material as the plating metal, sometimes it isn't. The anode required should be listed on the bottle of solution. Between what both of us were working on, we needed:

  • Stainless steel anode for the gold solution
  • Nickel for the nickel solution
  • Pure copper for the copper solution
* Copper wire to connect plating machine to solution anode and cathode to object

* Optionally, if what you are plating is not metal, then you will need conductive paint (brush or spray on are available). You will coat the object in this so the metal has a conductive surface to form on.

The variables to consider are the following:

* Voltage - increasing the voltage speeds up the process, however, it can also lead to "chunky" results (a sometimes desirable thing ... referred to as electroforming). In the case of copper, I was actually trying to electroform large growths (at 20+ vdc), and after a certain point, the copper that was forming was not actually adhering well to the object ... giving the object copper "hair" that could be washed off.

* Time - The longer the bath, the thicker the plating

* Temperature - Some solutions need to be heated before use (both nickel and gold do). It has been hard to get a bead on the effect of dropping temperature is, but it is on the suspect list of blackening that was happening to both nickel and gold in longer bath output.

* Proximity to anode - While this would be an electrical variable, this is listed more in relation to the object's three dimensional space versus anode proximity. The part of the object facing and closest to the immersed anode will simply plate faster. It is also possible that some of the blackening that occurred (on at least the nickel) was related to this variable.

I wouldn't say I have the processes down just yet, but it has been a fun journey so far!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Spider details and videos posted to youtube

Photo shamelessly stolen from Scott Axworthy (my partner in crime): Pumpkin Prowl 2009 Album

Videos: One with the ugly lights on (and my lovely assistant for size reference) and one with it in its natural habitat:

Video 1
Video 2

The giant spider finally made a real debut this year, albeit missing some components (the mandible/fang rig just didn't get finished to add movement on those bits ... for example).

10 linear actuators (firgelli mostly), 20 auto relays, 10 IO controlled relays from a serial controller, lots of wires. About 12' in leg span, weighs a ton (not really, but about 100 pounds is a good guess ... and that is not including the base ... another 20 lbs there).

Each of the front four legs has two automated joints, however I did kill one on Saturday night, as it jammed and burned itself out. I was thinking an inline fuse to each actuator might prevent this, and the fine folks at Firgelli (whom I am trying to get to sell me just the motor for the $120 actuator so I can save some cash) also suggested the same thing, so next version will have fuses inline with every actuator.

What also did not make it this year was the "interactive" aspect. Instead of just running random all of the time, I have a special spider egg (you can see the eggs in the video and photos) that really stands out which randomly "shakes" as if the spider inside is about to hatch. A motion sensor then connects to the IO board and triggers when someone reaches for the special egg.

I could have gotten that one done in time for Sat or Sun night pumpkin prowl, but after watching how most people were already so scared of the spider to actually approach it, I thought it might be hopeful at best that people would then reach for a shaking spider egg (which has multicolor, fading LEDs that provide a visual silhouette around the spider inside).

More thought will have to go into this concept I think ... and more time ... need to finish things like the animatronic fangs ... will it ever be done?!?!?!?!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

To blog or not to blog

Well, here we are. A blog. It has taken me years to accept things like this. MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, blogging ...

I think what has pushed me over the edge of finally making a blog is that I personally want to record and track progress on my creative projects, and while I do so, might as well use an internet available app and share it with others in the off chance that someone finds something useful in it.

So ... cheers ... a blogging we go!