Charcade @ Burning Man23

Hey!  If you like fire-belching games like “Simon: Fire Edition”, then consider what an entire arcade of games would be like.  Enter, “Charcade“, a 2013 Honorarium award winner.  They need some help meeting their funding goal at Kickstarter.  Check it out.

Saturday at Critical Northwest

The response was amazing! Thank you, very much, Critical Northwest for the warm welcome and cold beer.

I’ve been totally absorbed with the production of the Simon project, and I’ve really neglected promotion and fundraising activities to support the project. If you enjoyed the piece, and would like to support this effort, consider donating to the cause:

I’m pretty happy with the tuning I did over Thursday and Friday. Those of you who were there may have seen me hunkered down over the laptop, between visits to the (glorious) coffee stand. Anyway, things seemed to flow better on the project’s interactivity and timing. We found that having the panel motion sensors generate tones was a little confusing, so we adjusted the octave down and turned them into two short beeps.

Trevor and Gorski were there to spell me Friday and Saturday night, respectively, which gave me a little time off to see the event. Still, I can’t say I had an opportunity to see everything that was going on.

Finally, my sincere thanks to INW for providing support in the form of a grant and an opportunity to show the work at Critical Northwest. The support and kind words at the event were appreciated.

I did grab a (poor quality) video on my phone.  Please let me know if you’ve captured some better footage, and I’d be happy to link it here.

Thursday at Critical Northwest


Simon had a great reception at Critical Northwest Thursday night. As soon as I started, a parade of children (literally) swarmed the sculpture. Once they understood that the controller wasn’t a touch surface, they immediately got it.

I did blow through 50 gallons of propane, however. There’s a resupply today and some software tinkering needed.

Thanks, everyone, for the warm debue.

Simon packs

Well, Simon packs down pretty well. Not shown: 200 pounds (50 gallons) of propane.

I’m hitting the road Wednesday, shooting for a noon setup at Critical Northwest. See you there!  Being your game face and beer.


Fanfare Playing!

I’m not sure if I can make the blog show a video from my phone without rigmarole, but here goes. The video shows a “fanfare” sequence. That is, you can see the sculpture playing an 8-bit video game song (ie. “chiptune”) and sequencing the lights on the panels and the fire release to work with the song. We’ve improved that quite a bit since then, but here’s a first look!

Simon controller

Finally settled on the v1 Controller system that we’re taking to Critical Northwest. It turned out to be quite a bit more straightforward than the initial build. In the photo below, you can see the Simon controller printed circuit board. It’s one-sided, so the traces are facing away from us. In the lower right, there’s an Arduino Mega. Why a Mega? Well, the prices on these have come waaay down ($20), and they feature four hardware serial ports. One of those ports is connected to the Xbee Series 1, which you can partially see in the upper left. That hardware serial turns out to be pretty important. While a serial port can be emulated in software, we’re also hooking an interrupt service routine to analyze the frequency being played on the speaker. If we were to try to do both of these things (software serial emulation and frequency analysis), that’d be hard to pull off. The timing falls apart, and the serial link is disrupted. That would lead to the art sculpture and controller coming of of sync, which we don’t want.

I may still add a lithium polymer battery to replace the 2x D cells. I had this set up in in the intial build, so I can probably move that hardware over. I won’t do so for Critical Northwest, however–“one in the hand is worth two in the bush.”


Panels, motion sensing

Great. We have IR motion sensors around the base that throw animations (and fire). I affectionately refer to this as “Hippy-roaster Mode”.