Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Lights !

Given all the emphasis on safely lighting the karmabox so it is not a nighttime playa danger, I first started thinking about lights and not the box itself. Solar powered LED lights are the obvious choice because I was not going to need a lot of light (just enough for safety) and their automatic self-contained nature is great.

I poked around the local bigbox and hardware stores looking at lights. I was immediately attracted to these guys for few reasons - small form factor, a metal stake and omnidirectional visibility. The small form factor is key. A lot of LED garden lights are made of flimsy plastic that seems ripe for blowing away in the wind. These are more compact and made of tougher material. The metal stake should give me several mounting options, including drop them onto a piece of rebar. The omnidirectional visibility is key as well because they whole point is to see them far enough way not to hit them. A lot of lights don't have this type of lens and are more of the "soft glow" variety.

My biggest concern way the claim of "up to 8 hours" of lighting. Or was it 6 ? Anyway, I sure didn't want the lights to crap out at 4AM! I decided to buy one for experimentation. That was $4. I think I will start keeping track of the project costs too.

Turns out this light (and almost all LED garden lights) are powered by a cheap rechargeable AA battery. The battery was only rated for 350 mAh. Not much. So I popped in a fully charged 2100 mAH rechargeable. I covered the light sensor to force the light on. Guess how long it ran ? Over 5 days (24 hours a day). So if the light is off and the battery recharging when the sun is out it should last the entire week of Burning Man no problem.

We also took the light out to the park on a moonless night just to check the brightness. It was plenty bright for the intended purpose.

On the next visit to the bigbox I bought a couple more lights on the theory the 3 lights should be plenty for safety. I even picked up a few extras to have on hand (you never know).

My buddy Steve also thinks we may want to light a sign or something so we got a pair of solar LED floodlights. These guys have are really bright (3 LED's), have an adjustable neck, adjustable solar panel, and take 3 AA batteries. However I don't think we will put the high capacity AA's in the floodlights because they are not critical to safety.

Hirez pics can be found on Flickr.

Total project cost:
$12 (3 LED solar garden lights)
$20 (2 LED solar flood lights)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Application and Approval

It seemed that if I wanted to nail something down out on the playa, I was going to need some sort of official OK. To figure out how to proceed, I started by visiting and looking for information.

I found lots of information about the 2009 theme, previous art, art groups, etc. I didn't find much that told me what I needed to do. Turns out they were busy changing the back-end IT stuff around and didn't have the links up for a while. Eventually launched and it has all the forms for art projects, mutant vehicle registration, camp placement, etc. Note this site has its own registration system, because you know you wanted another username/password to remember. I also like that it runs on plone, which we have been using at work for some time now.

Even after getting registered, it still takes a bit to actually find the dang form (tiny link way at the bottom of a page; time to get a UX expert on board guys). But after that it is pretty straightforward. Unless you are dealing with fire. If you are, you will have a TON of questions to answer about how you are not going to roast anyone.

Since the karmabox is a pretty modest project, all I really needed to do (besides described it) was make a little diagram. I just grabbed an image of a box from google and used Skitch to draw some arrows and text on it.

I did all this on the first week that went up, so I got a pretty quick response. Jonesy Jones, an Artists' Advocate, called me back pretty quick. We basically rehashed everything I put on the forms (the nature of the project, how big, lighting, etc.). I think this was to make sure I was not an idiot. He also really emphasize the need to make sure your art is nailed down to the playa and well lit. I appreciated that he was very supportive and not harsh or judgmental in any way. I was also added to the playa-art-announce mailing list.

Since I don't need a lot of setup and am not (too) picky about location, all I need to do is head to the Artery once on-playa and they will assist in placing the art. I hope this means driving me out to the location in a truck because moving it by hand would be a pain.

Next few posts will be about the karmabox itself (with pictures) !