Instructables
For this year's Burning Man, we threw in with our good friends Jon & Kystren of Form and Reform . You many know them from their awesome 'how to make a snail car' Instructable they made a while back.

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.

 
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Step 1: Figuring out the Why and What

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.
randomray2 years ago
Wonderful project , Kudos to all !
mikeasaurus2 years ago
Awesome video, they really so slither across the ground!
Thanks for sharing your build!
colin2 years ago
AWESOME AWESOME AWESOME! I hadn't seen the video before. The serpents look even better in motion!
JeffreyMcGrew (author)  colin2 years ago
Thanks! It's amazing how well they track. You could make a sharp turn with the head and the tail would only drift a few inches (if that) from where the head had gone. Jon's a genius!
jzallan2 years ago
Needless to say but JeffreyMcGrew & Because We Can create AWESOMENESS!!! And they got robot :-)
Wow, this is just Amazing! What an awesome job! Those are really something :)