Aug 25 2011

Bits and bobs – 3 days till liftoff

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Because an art car is never finished.

I disassembled all the light arrays from XyloVan 1.0, and I’m reassembling them onto the light bars I made for JANUS. This involves testing all of them, including the flasher circuits …

… and then screwing them down. I’ll wire everything up later today. (It’s stupid-o’clock in the morning right now).

I also cut a stencil so that I can spraypaint warnings (PLEASE DON’T CLIMB HERE!) that discourage people from trying to scramble up onto JANUS’ “shoulders,” which are built to withstand the playa winds and sun, but not a 238-pound Java developer full of Fuzzy Navels and good cheer – let alone a 5-year-old child in a Wolverine costume.

I then cut a frame for the stencil out of an old TV carton and put the whole thing together with Gorilla Tape (accept no substitutes!)

I’ve also been drilling out a few discarded xylophone keys that I plan to mount with the drums that will be installed on the Cloud Deck so that people riding on top will have more instruments to play.

Chugchugchug.


Sep 11 2010

Repair time in Kidsville

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Quick – run out and publish this bumper sticker: “AN ART CAR IS A HOLE IN THE DESERT INTO WHICH YOU POUR MONEY”

I moved the van into Kidsville Thursday morning to repair a melted circuit. A staple had cut through a lead, shorting out the entire port strobe circuit – and basically melting the wires together. Check it out …
Continue reading


Aug 26 2010

Bits and bobs – knocking down the punchlist

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Last night was all about hitting XyloVan’s extensive punchlist of Little Things that Need Doing.

I spent the better part of a flaming Technicolor tequila dusk on the roof beneath the gently fluttering canopy, paranoid that we’ll crash or break down en route to the playa, and debugging shorts in the strobe/flood bars. Then I set about hammering out all the other little things I’ve been meaning to do as this insane 6-month project comes to fruition.

Things like … Continue reading


Aug 25 2010

Lights!

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Time to add the unreasonable number of big, cheap Chinese-made LED floods and strobes … Continue reading


Aug 22 2010

Sound check – Clean!

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Clean enough, anyway.

That wicked line buzz is gone. It turns out I needed to ground the mixer to the chassis, which involved tearing apart and then sewing up the 20-foot umbilical. That took a little while.

Pay no attention to my banging. I’m just banging. But it’s sounding pretty lush. And I”m excited to show it off. Thanks to everyone who pulled up and talked to us this afternoon. It’s all good.

Just a little more wiring to go.


Aug 15 2010

Light bars

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The lighting plan is coming together slowly, but surely. I installed lights behind the disc gongs, ordered some green EL wire and am eagerly awaiting delivery of the Incredibly Stupid Number of Chinese Strobe Lights, which may or may not be used in an attempt to dazzle the DMV into giving us a nighttime driving permit.

But until then, I got to work building these light bars – scavenged from BM projects past and hand-built over the past week or so. They will hang over the keyboards, giving light to play by … Continue reading


Aug 6 2010

Neatening the mass of spaghetti

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Spent last night with cables in my teeth …

… stuffing speaker wires into conduit …

… and hooking up the bottom end of the sound system, running Monster cables from the cheap Pep Boys amp to the surplus bass cabinet I’ve had kicking around for 10 years, and then out through a switchbox that patches two tweeter channels out to my four outrigger speakers …

The brown lines are 2-pole thermostat wire, which I’m using for the lighting since it’s cheap and nicely contained.

We’re doing a gig this weekend that should allow me to run this all full-tilt and shake out the last of the bugs. I’ll post video. Stay tuned.


Aug 4 2010

Mumblecore

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I spent much of the night wiring in the sound and lights.

Wiring is a vast, sucking swamp into which one wades happily at first, only to discover three hours later that one has been muttering things under one’s breath just because the sound they make keeps one from desperately chopping off one’s fingers with the wirestrippers.

Things like, “channel-stuffing.”

“Switchbox …” Continue reading


Aug 3 2010

Got glow?

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Back when we were having a cow over being denied a Department of Mutant Vehicles permit to drive around the playa, I was taking everything personally.

The DMV were shellbacked nannies for refusing to see XyloVan as a mutant vehicle, the law that it must-not-look-like-a-street-vehicle-in-any-way was pedantic, draconian bullshit – anyway, I was a bit of a wreck.

But I took to heart one criticism I heard here – someone said, “I thought from your description it was going to be covered with instruments, but it looks like you just have a few.”

So I spent the better part of the weekend bolting on another eight gongs and … Continue reading


Aug 3 2010

How to capture and amplify the xylophone’s voice

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Getting XyloVan amplified properly has turned out to be one of the biggest technical challenges.

First you need to capture the sound – for that, we built parabolic resonators out of sheets of fiberglass shower-liner. The material was perfect – sturdy enough for playa abuse and hard and reflective for sound. When you played, the sound would bounce back to you off of the resonator surface like thisContinue reading