I just posted this to the Facebook page, but I wanted to share here as well for anyone who followed along here:
First, the headline - the Crypto Lotus was successfully deployed in all its glory at Burning Man 2013! Success!
It sure wasn't easy though! If you're interested in hearing how it all went, read on!
I arrived on-playa close to midnight Saturday going into Sunday. I quickly pitched my pup tent and crashed as best I could for a few hours until the sunrise woke me up. After a few hours helping to setup camp (Yay S'moregasm! What a great crew!), I headed to the Artery to get placed. After a few hours there I headed back to camp and I borrowed my friend John's minivan and trailer and headed over with Franco to the DC Container to get the rest of my stuff and the parts of the lotus.
We dropped the lotus off on the edge of the plaza at 4:30 and G and then headed back to camp to drop off our stuff. Just as I finished setting up my tent we got word that a storm was approaching and we should secure everything down. I tried biking over to the lotus, but the wind kicked up and it started to rain so I retreated back to camp.
A couple hours later, when the storm still hadn't fully materialized I biked to the lotus with all of my tools and got started trying to build. Pretty soon I was being yelled at/scolded/questioned by everyone from EMS to BLM officers and Black Rock Rangers for having all my stuff "in the middle of the street". I had to patiently (though that got thin by the end of the day!) explain that I was in the correct spot and was exactly where the Artery had placed me.
This was when my first big gift was given to me - a set of 8 plastic traffic bollards from Camp Do Nothing who where there on the plaza. They noticed that I was not terribly well protected in the middle of the plaza as I was trying to setup my art and the little plant stakes I was using to try to rope off my area weren't visible enough in the dust, wind, and darkening skies.
Then, over the course of the evening a small parade of burners came by to help me build. I can't remember all of their names, but they were universally kind, helpful, and damn proficient with tools. Chow and his friend Alex were particularly helpful - thank you dudes so much.
Eventually though it got too dark and I got too tired to finish the setup that day. For some reason my power strip wasn't working and I just couldn't figure out why. So, I secured the job site and called it a night.
The next day, with a lot of help from even more helpful burners, I was able to get the power strip and all of the petals working. The lily pads still didn't want to work correctly, but I figured I could just stage those in the next day. That was the first night the lotus bathed the plaza with rippling light!
On Tuesday I arrived early at the lotus only to discover the main computer, a Raspberry Pi, was dead. It's power light would turn on, but nothing else. I spent the day trying to fix it and eventually retreated to a local bar camp, White Trash Superstar, to lick my wounds and try to figure out my next steps (and getting pretty damn drunk in the process!).
When I sobered up I headed to the lotus to hang some blinky lights on the bollards to help keep it lit and safe at night. Just as I was doing so, someone crashed straight into my sign and borrowed generator. Luckily I don't think he was hurt (he biked off in a hurry) and nothing of the project was irreparably broken. Still... that sucked.
It's safe to say I started Wednesday off in a sour mood, but decided to go talk to any electronics folks I knew to see if there may be a spare Raspberry Pi floating around on the playa. In the meantime, my buddy Chow started working on getting one of his other spare micro-controllers (a Teensy 3.0) working with the lotus' lights so it could at least be lit up.
Over the course of the day I spoke with an assisted a number of projects and camps, including spending some time repairing EL wire with the awesome people at Nosefish. Eventually I was told that the artists at a camp called Frogma were in dire straights with some propane aspects of their project, but that the electronics part of the project was based on a Raspberry Pi and they MAY have a spare.
It turns out I wasn't able to help with their propane problems (a bunch of their connectors were faulty) but they did, in fact, have a spare Raspberry Pi that they generously lent me! (Note - Frogma was able to get their project fully working at least a couple of times during the event - I'll post a link later!)
I was able to quickly get the lotus lit back up for that night and then vowed to get the whole thing working on Thursday.
Thursday morning I woke up and dashed to the lotus and quickly discovered my problem - half the power strip was dead! So, just a tiny bit of time later I was able to get the whole thing up and working. Thus, on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights the Crypto Lotus finally, fully fulfilled my artistic vision. I was beside myself!
Patti and I spent a few of the early hours Sunday (our 12th anniversary!) acting as docents at the lotus and it was an absolute blast. I can't wait for the lotus to arrive back home so I can check out the log files and see how many times it was solved!
There were still some problems - the opening mechanism worked properly, but the super dry air shrunk my wood significantly. This changed all of the dimensions enough that the difference in shape between the open and closed lotus were minimal at best.
The heat and dust in general did a number on the lotus, and a lot of the wood was visibly on it's last legs. On Sunday, during teardown, I decided any future installations would just have to be built off a new base, and burned all of the lotus' wood parts in the burn garden. It was quite cathartic tossing the wood into the roaring fires.
So, this is the end, for now. This was the ultimate goal, and it was reached. That being said, the lotus may still make additional appearances in a slightly different form, and there are some plans afoot to take this idea even further (I'll share as soon as I can!). Thank you everyone for your support. It came in every possible form and in every possible way. More than anything this project taught me a lot about the depth of human generosity and love.