We’re back from Burning Man, and we’re happy to report that the Ardent Mobile Cloud Platform was a raging success. It rained, it misted, it suspended aerialists, and it brought much joy and mirth to the inhabitants of Black Rock City.
In the weeks to come, we will begin sending out backer rewards. We will also be launching the AMCP website, which will include the “Thank You” page, photo galleries and videos of the Cloud, and information for booking the Cloud at future events. For now, here are some pics!
Here it is misting on the DPW Parade. Photo by Neil Girling:
And here it is glowing beautifully in the night. Photo by Audrey Penven:
And here’s a shot of one of the 8-bit flowers, courtesy of Heather Hunsinger:
And finally, here is a rad old-timey pinhole portrait of (most of the) AMCP crew. It was taken by Jason from Media Mecca. On behalf of the entire crew, THANK YOU AGAIN!
This weekend, we hit a major milestone: we successfully put together the voxel cloud. Hundreds of squares and over a thousand zip ties went into the assembly of this object. And we owe it all to you! Thank you, dear backers, for helping to make this happen. You are wonderful, and we love you.
On the electronics front, we have a rain controller! It hooks up to the Raspberry Pi GPIOs and controls up to three valves. The electronics team did a great job of soldering everything together. In other electronics/software news, a bunch of the LED controllers are also done, and Micah wrote a “shader” for the cloud, which lets us do some nice cloud and lightning effects with our 2560 LEDs with a nice, smooth frame rate. Ed and Samson teamed up to give us a touchscreen UI for controlling both light and sound effects.
To be continued as the Cloud continues coming together!
Yesterday, our Kickstarter triumphantly concluded, and we all rejoiced. Not only did we meet our goal, but we exceeded it goal by a significant amount! THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU. (Also, our friends the Charcade totally hit their goal, so thanks to all you Cloud backers who helped them out as well).
Cloud construction is proceeding at a rapid pace! On the lighting front, a very heavy box of LEDs just arrived, straight from the factory. Micah has cut, tested, and packed 40 strips of 64 LEDs each. They are ready to install on the cloud! Additionally, J has finalized our order for the gridcloth, which we will use to diffuse the LEDS to give the cloud a soft glow. Expect pretty photos of cloud lighting soon!
Elizabeth has been working on a kick-ass playlist for the cloud. We have a working list of songs, heavily coated in cheese (it is Burning Man after all!), that pertain to rain and clouds. From November Rain by Guns and Roses to Cloud 9 by the Temptations, we’ve got you covered. We’re also amassing a list of songs in French and Spanish, such as La Pluie et la Beau Temps by Zazie and llueve by Ella es Tan Cargosa. We also have a dose of classical music relating to rain, and of course some video game music to go along with our 8-bit design aesthetic.
Voxel fabrication has been going strong all weekend long! Thank a bajillion to all the amazing Cloud engineers we’ve had on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday! We’ve run out of zipties several times, figured out the Way of the Three Sided Box, double handed the zipper guns, lined silver, and generally had a wonderful time.
We are now halfway finished with complete Cloud pieces! Here’s a status update from Lyra:
Laz0ring my pixels: 100% Finished!
Silver lining: 70%
CAD wrangling: 100%
Voxels created: 55%
Completed Cloud pieces: 50%
Finally, here is a photo by John showing part of the cloud frame attached to the rail. GO TEAM CLOUD!
Our HDPE arrived yesterday, and our first worknight building the cloud skin is going on at this very moment! We’ve finished assembling section “A”, and are building section “B” now (the final section is “H”).
And now, photos!
We’re constructing the voxels (“volumetric pixels”) using 1/16″ HDPE squares, held together with small nylon cable ties. After a lot of experimentation, this route presented the best balance of buildability and aesthetic appeal, while not interfering with the ability of the LEDs to make the cloud glow evenly.
(Lana, placing a large group of voxel faces)
We decided that to give each voxel a little more definition, we’d trace around the edges with a silver permanent marker. We chose silver because the metallic elements make it more colorfast in the sun, and because it makes for better puns.
(DJ applies the silver lining)
While Lee used a variety of tools to design the cloud, the final buildable model is maintained in Rhino. As we assemble the pieces, it’s someone’s job to keep the model up-to-date with which pieces have been finished and attached.
(Lyra keeps track of the CAD)
The voxel faces were cut by our supplier on a fast CNC plastic saw into 140mm squares. Each square is then placed in a custom jig in the laser cutter to have the fastener holes cut. We originally planned to cut the squares with the laser as well, but because the AMCP has more than 1500 voxel faces, it would have taken too long.
Once the cloud sections are fully assembled, they become somewhat floppy and unweildy. Later this week, we’ll transport them to our metal shop in Oakland to install rigid steel framing inside them. This frame will make them strong enough to resist the bouncing of the telehandler, and will provide solid attachment points for connecting them to the platform. It will also provide mount points for the LEDs.
(Audrey, tightening zipties inside the nearly-finished section “A”)
We’re really excited about how the project is coming along! With just a day-and-a-half left on the Kickstarter, we’re hoping we can really push and hit one of our stretch goals!
(Section “A”: voxels done, supported on a stand until we get the frame installed)
First of all, thank you all so much! As of today, we’re 75% funded, with 9 days to go. We’re so close!
A lot’s been done in the past week. Lee’s been working hard on the final cloud design, and has prepared some beautiful renders so we can see how things have progressed:
(AMCP front view)
(AMCP side view)
We’ve also been busy working out exactly how we’re going to make these things. Our strength and LED diffusion tests tell us that HDPE is the right material, and we’ve been able to get good cuts on the laser with the addition of more air pressure. It’s looking like we’ll cut the cube faces with a hydraulic shear, and then add the fastener holes with the laser. This hybrid strategy will make the cleanest parts in the shortest possible time, and that’s important since we need to make about 1000 voxels.
Here’s Eden with some of our prototype voxels. Ignore all those dangly ziptie ends… 🙂
And here’s a video of the laser cutting those parts:
Work on the water and lighting systems is going great! Micah and DJ have picked out the right technologies and put in our LED order yesterday. Software work is underway, and code will start appearing on Github shortly.
Finally, Simon and friends have been rocking it on the steel fabrication. The load-bearing components are finished, and the platform railing and speaker mounts are nearly done too.
Thanks again to all our Ardent Supporters. Because of your help, this thing is going to be awesome!
First off, holy shit! Thank you so much, guys. You’re all awesome! At time of writing, we’re almost two-thirds of the way to our goal. Be sure to tell your friends about this exciting new market opportunity!
Here’s what’s new with the Ardent Mobile Cloud Platform:
– Our mist system was delivered today, so expect to see tests with a little less water soon.
– Plans, prototypes, and fabrication for the AMCP are well underway. We got the control and lighting software started, finished the base platform design, worked on the model for the shape of the cloud itself, wrote some code in Grasshopper to help unfold the design into flat patterns for laser cutting, and made prototype voxels (a.k.a the three-dimensional pixels that will make up the cloud shape).
– Our electrical system is taking shape! Micah has created a diagram draft showing how all of the electrical components—from strobes to audio—play together. You can check out the PDF on our newly-created Github project for the cloud.
– On Sunday, we picked up our first load of steel, cut it up and cleaned it, and began welding it together. Ben even cleaned all the rust off those fork pockets, in preparation for painting! The metal crew: Simon, DJ, Micah, Eden, Ben, Ian.
– For prototyping the voxels, we tried bending HDPE with the plastic welder, tested many different strategies for binding the cube edges, and upgraded the air assist on the laser cutter to get better edges on HDPE (and drier air). Big props to Arlen for creating the cube prototypes, and Simon for his edge-joining ideas.
– Lee’s been tuning the design for the cloud’s plastic skin as we finalize the placement of all the internal components. It’s looking really good! Expect to see some new renders soon.
– A few of us went out and carefully measured a sad, graffiti-covered telehandler at a construction site in the Mission. The security guy was pretty friendly, all things considered. It’s a similar model to the one we’ll be using, so now we know how best to build this grassy hill without interfering with the moving parts or scuffing the paint.
Coming up next week: LEDs, software, more steel, and making cubes. Stay tuned!
You people are amazing! A day-and-a-half, and we’re almost halfway there! We are all truly and completely humbled by how our community has come together to support this crazy idea. Thank you all SO MUCH!
Yesterday, a few of us got together in the shop for some preliminary work on the TPM (the Trusted Precipitation Module), aka the AMCP’s rain and mist subsystem. We tested the spray patterns and water consumption of a standard fire sprinkler and a smaller shrub sprinkler. Here’s a photo of our janky test rig taped to the hook from the bridge crane:
And here’s what the spray from the fire sprinkler looks like from 15 feet up. You can see Laura holding the controls, while Dan and our neighbor Greg with the tesla coils try not to get wet:
Both sprinklers work great, and the fire sprinkler in particular feels like a serious thunderstorm—it’s surprising how much water can come out of such a small object. There’s a few more ideas to try out, but we’re thinking we might install them both under independent control so we can easily change how hard the rain comes down.
In other news, platform CAD is coming along nicely. Our mechanical engineer, Lyra, put together some preliminary FEA for the aerial rigging, and our designs seem sound. We expect to move forward on the metal fabrication soon. We’ve also ordered all the materials for pixel prototyping, and should be lasering up some beautiful plastic cubes later this week!
Last, but certainly not least, we’ve received some requests for a captioned version of the video. We’re not sure if we can get captioning to work in the Kickstarter video player, but rest assured that we’re working on it and you can expect to see an audio-optional version on YouTube soon. Watch this space for further updates.