Jon & Kyrsten had a big, big idea : to make a pair of 50' long art cars, two serpents, one light and one dark, based upon ancient mythology with a 'sky viking' theme and full of programmable LEDs. How could one resist helping out with something so awesome?
Anyways, one big thing we helped with was the tails. While most of the Serpents were made via Jon's master blacksmith handmade methods, the tails were fully digitally fabricated. That means made by robots. Well, cut out by robots, and assembled by us!
So in this instructable, we're going to go through step-by-step how we did that, and dive into the deep end of digital fabrication.
It all started on paper. Meeting with Jon, we sketched and talked until we got a good idea of what the tail should be. We made some early 3D models, then printed those out and sketched over the top of them. We looked up pictures of classic viking and art deco structures. Back and forth until the idea was solid.
It's important early on to figure out what your goals are for a given project, because it's easy to loose your way when you get into the thick of solving problems.
For example: - We needed to be certain that the tails were under a certain height, so they could fit into a standard truck. - Each serpent had to have a generator and a charger fit into the base of the tail. - We wanted it to be all made of steel so it matched the rest of the Serpents. - We needed to make them very quickly, for the deadline was really tight. - It had to fit with the 'sky viking' theme we were going for with everything else. - Finally, we figured it needed to be able to survive a friendly-yet-aggressive hug, which is likely to happen at Burning Man.