"The Deep" - D.C.'s Sonic Jellyfish Art Car

A Burning Man Art Car Project by a group of D.C. (Not Washington!) Burners

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Who says hacking is just engineering?! Leonardo Da Vinci, Buckminster Fuller, Howard Hughes, Shinya Kimura, and Su Song sound familiar? What do these famous engineers have in common?

They're also incredible artists! It's time that a new archetype be propagated far and wide, the Engineer-Artist, Artist-Engineer! Or Artist-Hacker, Hacker-Artist? Art is a fundamentally creative human endeavour.

Take six maniacally passionate artists. A few drunken nights. All six love Burning. All six have a thing for primitive primordial oceanic life forms. One golf cart, and too much excess creativity. Some microcontroller hacking and soft robotics. Stir. Season. Simmer.

And then bring it out to one of the Regional Burns, like Transformus, Alchemy, Playa Del Fuego, Wickerman, Freeform, Firefly, Gratitude Migration, Frostburn, etc.

And Burning Man. What, you thought Burning Man was the only Burn around? Puhlease. Being a Burner is about mindset, not location.

So, to date, this project includes the following high tech concepts:

  • Green construction using locally sourced bamboo - it grows everywhere in D.C.
  • Composite construction of mast points (fiberglass and epoxy resin on the bamboo poles), creating a mast structure that's far stronger than steel for the weight
  • Arduino Teeny LC's
  • Later on in the game, soft robotics for the tentacles.

    Here's a video of the Deep in action.

    For an explanation about The Deep, here's our crowdfunding video.

And you can see our crowd funding campaign here:

  • 1 × A Big ass Golf Cart
  • 2 × Bamboo poles fiberglassed with epoxy to form a composite, super strong mast
  • 1 × Silk Fabric
  • 15 × Teensy LC
  • 8 × RGB LED strips

View all 13 components

  • The Deep Indie Go Go Campaign: D.C's Dancing Jellyfish Chariot

    Casual Cyborg07/11/2016 at 19:26 0 comments

    With less than 54 days until the Man Burns, our team is hot on track to get the version 2.0 version of the Deep completed.

    Now that the Deep 2.0 Indie GoGo Campaign is up, come out and help contribute to us finishing up the 2nd version of the artcar and getting it out to the Burn!

  • Customized Deep Logo Tin Cup for Your Donation

    Casual Cyborg06/19/2016 at 17:45 0 comments

    So, I'm right now working on the Deep version 2.0 with my team, and we're facing what every Burning Man Art project faces as their primary foe. Lack of funding. We're right now coming up with a reward product for our next indie gogo campaign, and I want to put some feelers out there to the hackaday folks about what y'all feel.

    For the Deep 2.0, this is what we're working on accomplishing before the burn:
    1.) Building the electronics for the simulation of the Comb jellyfish lights, which are synchronized to music and respond to movement, like a real jellyfish. Because we've all seen musically reactive jellyfish...
    2.) New decorations that are durable, non-MOOPY, day ready, cleanable, on the Deep Art Car, to make it more seaworthy in the middle of a desert, the woods, or a sandy beach.

    3.) New Spare Battery, so we don't have to abandon art car in the middle of the desert

    4.) Transport costs, so we can get the Deep out to the Desert

    5.) Spare parts for repairs in the desert

    6.) Soft robotic tentacles to hug people.

    These are the questions I'd like to ask y'all who are following the Deep.

    1.) Would you donate to the Deep Art Car? The plus is you already know that we've built the Deep 1.0. We've got the pictures and videos to prove it. So you know we're not a fly by night operation.

    2.) Would you consider donating $50 for a customized tin cup with the Deep Logo on it. It looks like this, thanks to the mad machinations of Marina.

    This is what the metal cup would look like:

    Feel free to comment below.

  • Jellyfish Bell v2.0 Electronics

    Casual Cyborg06/17/2016 at 21:30 0 comments

    This is the initial circuit diagram for one of the sensor nodes. It's going to get expanded into a sort of hybrid digital/neural circuit emulator design, using a synapse discharge as the main model. The entire Jellyfish will have about 11 microcontrollers, right now, they're independent of each other. In the future, or near future provided we have time, they'll be networked with each other in a mix of analog circuitry that simulates a neural synapse, using the high output of a digital circuit as a discharge signal, and that interfaces with digital circuitry. I call it the "Wannabe Jellyfish Cyborg."

    This is just the first sensor node which controls the RGB LED strips.

    This is the overall diagram of the concept.

    Obviously, because the signalling is going to be digital, there aren't going to be any weights. The only thing that can be weighted is from the sound sensors, and that we're not going to use for the time being. I know, some of you are probably asking, "then what's the point?" There is no point other than to create a signal that fires off in analog at various points around the bell creating... ART!

    And, here's the basic code.

    The Deep Combjelly Simulation Code

  • Making the new Jellyfish Bell

    Casual Cyborg06/17/2016 at 18:10 0 comments

    Last year, we were scrambling to get the Jellyfish art car ready for the burn, which meant taking the path of least resistance. The result was our jellyfish bell looked like a mushroom with tentacles. This year, with more time we've started building the second jellyfish bell frame.

    Me and Marina with the new frame inside the old envelope.

    David with the new frame.

    We made the frame from a 6 junction pvc construction piece - you have to special order it online - and some pvc pipe from home depot. We used a heat gun to soften and form the pvc pipe into the shape you see above. I first got that idea years ago when I made my own PVC bows and arrows from this guy out in Hawaii.

    And I just repurposed the technique to make the Jellyfish ribs. Next up, electronics!

  • Sea Shells Made out of Paper Mache and Mortar

    Casual Cyborg06/13/2016 at 17:02 0 comments

    Carrie and Marina are hard at work lending their incredible design and creative talents to creating the next version of the Deep Art Car's ocean themed mutations. Using an interesting mix of paper, and mortar - this $#!T is fireproof - they've crafted some beautiful creations of the oceans. Check out their simulacra...

    Marina and her sea conch.

    There's more to come! We're hard at work getting ready for Burning Man 2016, Transformus 2016, and Playa Del Fuego Fall 2016!!

  • The Deep v2.0 reactive LED/eye system

    Casual Cyborg06/13/2016 at 16:34 0 comments

    One of the characteristics we wanted to do with the Deep that we didn't have enough time last year to do was to make the jellyfish reactive, you know, like a real jellyfish. So, for this year, among many many other improvements, I've been working on a circuit that has more biological behaviour.

    The BOM is an arduino compatible boarduino, from adafruit,, a neopixel RGB strip that uses the neopixel LED strip,, and a cheap ass pir sensor from ebay. Note to anyone who's attempting this, the RGB strip draws a lot more power out of the boarduino, whether from the USB (which you shouldn't be using), or an independent power supply! Because of that, the pir sensor wasn't picking up and the digital port it was attached to kept flashing high, triggering the program code. To fix this, I attached a 3V source to the pir sensor, using this information: Now the circuit works perfectly. Also, instead of arduino, which I used to rapid prototype, I'm moving to the msp430g2553 instead for its low power characteristics.

    You can see LED color pattern is similar to a comb jellyfish, like this

    Using the pir sensor, we can start approximating some of the jellyfish's reactive characteristics, in this case to movement/light. Circuit design and code to be put up shortly.

  • The Deep @ Love Burn

    Casual Cyborg04/21/2016 at 16:08 0 comments

    Here's the Deep at Love Burn 2016!

  • The Deep 2.0, 2016 Edition

    Casual Cyborg04/19/2016 at 03:33 0 comments

    The Deep successfully debuted at Burning Man 2015, Love Burn 2015. Next up is the Freeform Arts and Transformation Burn and what many on the East Coast consider the best Burn around - there are people who sell their Burning Man tickets just to go to this Burn - Transformus. For that one, we're getting into the Deep 2.0, Soft Robotics edition! Here are the design concepts going into this year's iteration.

    As for Burns, being a burner doesn't mean Burning Man itself. It means embracing the 10 principles, which is why so many Burners I know don't go to Burning Man. A lot of them go to regional Burns. Burning Man just happens to be a very very large Burn regional to Nevada. But the future of that movement, IMO is in the regionals.

  • Lights and the Deep's Maiden Voyage

    Casual Cyborg04/19/2016 at 02:48 0 comments

    The active lighting system, which consisted of RGB light strips, was programmed on a Teensy LC. For the next version of the bell, I'm programming it to be responsive to sound and to randomize and re-order the light patterns depending on the kind of musical input it gets. Like a proper reacting neural network would.

    And this is the Deep's very first test drive out of the workshop!

  • Video of the Deep's First Full Assembly

    Casual Cyborg04/19/2016 at 02:23 0 comments

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isdrue3 wrote 11/10/2021 at 17:04 point

This is looking one of the most attractive and impressive art I think its very similar to james hubbell art  as you can see here. I like his art very much.

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alusion wrote 04/02/2015 at 18:05 point

This looks mad cool, I love the jellyfish idea out in the middle of the desert.

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Jasmine Brackett wrote 03/24/2015 at 20:49 point

I'll keep a lookout for the deep in the deep!

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Casual Cyborg wrote 03/24/2015 at 21:13 point

LOL! Thanks Jasmine! Cause that's exactly where we're goin with it! If
we ever meet one day, I'll tell you the story of its genesis...

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Casual Cyborg wrote 07/16/2015 at 18:31 point

Hey Jasmine, been a while. Check out the video we just put up about it. It has some progress shots. 

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