Burning Man Art Project: 2003

Last updated: July 13, 2003

This web page is a project log for our Burning Man 2003 art project. I'll add entries at the bottom from time to time.

Here's the similar page for the octavepus project last year.

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Feb 2: The Flicker-Tron

Well, that's what we're calling it for now. The idea is to make lines of LEDs, all computer controlled, arranged vertically and spun so that each one sweeps out a cylinder. The result will be a series of concentric cylinders of light (maybe "Light Cylinder" would be a good name?).

If we can make the lights come on at the same points each time the cylinder rotates, persistance of vision should make the whole thing look like a sort of holograph.

It looks like each set of 8 LEDs will be controlled by a PIC chip (currently PIC16F628) and all the PICs will be controlled along a serial line on which the main processor will issue instructions. The PICs plus the LEDs will thus be a sort of 3D framebuffer.

First Test

Here is a proto-board layout of 8 LEDs, PIC, PIC programmer, and power supply. (The power supply is the only working part of a board I fried last year working on that year's Burning Man project.) The power supply is to the right of the proto-board and the Epic PIC programmer is below, powered by two batteries. It is normally cabled to a laptop where the PIC code can be written and assembled.

Test Board

Here's the first attempt to see what the printed circuit boards might look like. We've put two modules on a board to be able to test synchronization of the PICs. On the left is me wiring it up, then there's a view of the top and bottom of the board.

Bicycle Wheel Test

Here's the test board cut narrow and mounted on a bicycle wheel. If you turn out the lights and spin it, you can see ghostly patterns in space.

What we learned is this:

July 13: Newer Design

I finally got back to this. There have been a lot of discussions about how the thing should work, and now we're thinking of a single sheet of light, but for only a 2D image.

We also counted the states, and realize that we'll almost certainly need one PIC chip for every 4 lights instead of every 8. Today I rewired the board so we can test it and if it works, make some printed-circuit boards. On this version I also added wires for clock and communication -- interrupts, transmit, receive, and clock.

Here are photos of the rewired board:

We have settled on at least one thing. The name is "The Flickertron", all one word.

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