Lights and neurons and fiber optics, oh my!

Hi everyone! You might have seen the beautiful LED lit prototype of Dr. Brainlove on The Atlantic article. You must be wondering how we are going to do that. Well, here is the update on our progress with the lighting!

3D printed models of the brain and the bus

The lighting team — Sean Stevens and Ashley Newton — have been working to design the 3D printed parts that will enable a magnificent light show on Dr. Brainlove.

Ashley has been designing a 3D printed case to hold the LEDs at each of Dr. Brainlove’s neuronal lighting nodes. Each node will hold 24 LEDs, and thick fiber optic strands will carry diffused light from the LEDs between the nodes and throughout Dr. Brainlove.

Solidworks model of the neuronal lighting node

Prototype of the neuronal lighting node with one fiber optic cable attached

You can check out a video of the prototype nodes in action here!

Sean is making software to control the brain lights and combine the information from the data interpreting algorithms and sensors. Sound, camera, and EEG input will illuminate the regions of Dr. Brainlove that would be activated in an actual brain. The lights will also simulate neural connections, so you will be able to see virtual signals propagating and triggering other signals to be sent. Dr. Brainlove will respond to different inputs at once, mixing them together to create a beautifully intricate experience. 

A screen capture of Sean’s lighting control software

Get excited about our lighting!  We have lighting wizards on board and they will create a magical lighting for Dr. Brainlove.

And help us spread the word about our campaign! We are at 90% with 6 days left and will soon be announcing our stretch goal!

-Asako and the Dr. Brainlove team

We have a brain!

Great news! We completed our first assembly of the brain mesh this weekend! We rented a 8,000 lbs rated variable reach forklift (or a telehandler) to lift Dr. Brainlove, and friends from Ardent Heavy Industries, another large-scale art community, helped to operate it for us. It was one of the most labor-intensive and expensive weekends of the project and we are glad to be over this hump.

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Dr. Brainlove getting picked up by a powerful forklift.

 The Dr. Brainlove crew worked all weekend assembling the structure, which sometimes took six people holding a steel bar in place while others deftly placed & tightened a bolt.

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Nicholas, NovySan, Scott, Ian, and Laura working together to complete a node.

We also got to test-climb the structure for the first time.  It’s really easy to climb and the structure is rock solid!

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Asako took this picture from the ground looking up from inside Dr. Brainlove.

AND check out a video of Dr. Brainlove’s first baby steps driving forward.

We are working hard and making good progress on the project. Please help us spread the word to support our effort:

http://igg.me/at/drbrainlove

We are currently at 77% of our fundraising goal with 9 days left!

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-Asako and the Dr. Brainlove team

Tail/side projects and looking ahead

Most of our crew was away at Priceless for the holiday weekend, but Dr. Brainlove did not sit idle! We rewired the bus tail lights, one of the key steps to making Dr. Brainlove highway-ready. The wiring is housed in a conduit along the bus floor, keeping it safe for brain climbing and lounging. We’ve also made good progress on leveling off the metal edges of the bus and lining it with wood beams - we’ll be ready to mount the brain on the bus bed soon.

We have a big work weekend planned ahead! The brain mesh is currently ~50% assembled, and we plan to support it with a crane to complete the construction.

Lastly, our Indiegogo campaign is doing well. We’ve raised over 60% of our goal and still have 17 days to go. Please support us and spread the word to your friends!

- Natalia

And the top comes off!

Three solid days of work and off comes the top.  Day 1, last weekend, a crew of about ten gutted the old dear: seats out, bed gone, kitchen uninstalled. 

This heroic task continued yesterday with an amazing turnout of, what, 25 people.  So much energy, so much action, so many people learning skills they never knew they would love.  Most of the cuts were made through the bus, leaving just the uprights.  Lots of thinking and figuring out, but not quite ready to lift as the end of the day crept up and the barbeque became more attractive than the angle grinders. 

And so todaySunday, was the final push.  A handful of folks headed back out to NIMBY and carried on the cutting.  Armed with a couple angle grinders and an embarrassingly long sawzall blade we took things to the edge of structural integrity and, as the sun edged toward the west, Snook and Dave from NIMBY brought their forklifts into place and the final cuts were made. 

The back half came off first: the forklifts lifted and Jascha drove the bus forward, leaving a suspended shell and a half naked school bus.  One more time, off came the front.  And there we have it, a de-lidded bus, ready to receive a giant jungle gym brain.  Simple!

— Nicholas

The transmogrification begins…

I can’t remember how long it’s been since I’ve been covered head-to-toe in metal dust, but damn, it feels good.

Today was the second Dr. Brainlove work day at NIMBY, and our goal was to cut off the top of the bus, or at least get as far as we could.  Questions we had to answer along the way:

  1. What should we do with the top of the bus?  Do we keep it intact, and if so, where do we store it?  Or do we hack it off in pieces?
  2. How should we re-route the biodiesel line that’s currently inside the bus?
  3. What’s the best way to cut through the sheet metal wall of the bus?

We started the day with about 20 Phagelings and friends, only a couple of whom had ever used an angle grinder or sawzall before.  Perhaps we’re not experts yet, but at least we’ve all made sparks fly (and loved it!).

Answers:

  1. We’re going to remove the top of the bus in two pieces, either to keep at NIMBY, or to bring to one of our homes, at some point.  We’ll use two forklifts to hold up the lid while we drive the bus out from under.
  2. TBD.
  3. We used an angle grinder to cut through the sheet metal near each seam, both on the outside and inside of the bus.  Then using that hole, we used the sawzall to cut the rest of the way.  We still have yet to cut the seams, which we’ll do after reinforcing the rest of the frame (next time).

While we didn’t get all the way to cutting off the top of the bus, we made a ton of progress.  And I think we’re all addicted to angle grinding.

We’ll post progress updates here, but feel free to check in with our Twitter stream (@DrBrainlove) and Facebook page for more frequent news.

(And now, for the shower…)

— pico