META: Rising concern

Mostly because it’s the worry I woke up with.

First thing today, I was thinking about wind storms.

No matter how frictionless the junction between the orbit door and its track is, it will still be bearing the brunt of the weight, so the unit will act top heavy.

Powerful winds pushing on Jupiter will threaten to topple it, torquing the bridge. I may be thinking too rigidly (thanks to flat diagrams), but until i started writing this out, the thought was really stressful. Remembering that the door will rotate, not be a fixed wind-catcher helps.

Winds will play into the construction of the base, too. Surface level spokes will be easier to put up, (and allow off-playa display) but offer less stability.

I wonder if the tracks will be modular, or if I can make extra bases for dry land display. One for pre-playa testing, of course, but more for, say, decompression. Mmmm

Also: See that reference to Jupiter? I’ve started naming parts of the sculpture after things in the solar system (but don’t see how to add images on mobile). I’ve tried to use logical terminology in my descriptions, but this is more like having shorthand names for BEQs, except BEQs sometimes involve the interaction between bodies.

Still disappointed I can’t upload photos from the app.

Edited to add MEQ#1: how to add mild (2” max?) durable texture to the surface of the doors. Without too much weight



Brad and I had lunch today. Graziano’s. My salad was good, but could’ve used a little more dressing.

Our discussion touched on most of the BEQs, and reshaped things so maybe I have more hurdles for on-site build and fewer hurdles for offsite fabrication.


The orbiting pole and door seem decently simple. A fixed pole inside the door, with a pin/ball-bearing unit at the top and bottom.

The center pole/door is a little more complicated, since there need to be two independently rotating entities stacked on top of each other. So do they have a unifying pivot point like a chicken kebab, or are they stacked elements like an Oreo?


BEQ #2

This is possibly becoming linked with BEQ#4. (More on this below).

Brad’s brilliant solve for this is to have the hoop/track be convex and the wheel be concave. I like this! Less possibility to clog/trip on a convex track, and likely easier to fabricate.


The triangular truss is possibly unnecessary from a structural sense. Cool. Thinking about keeping a decorative element on top, but having it be a half-circle for there to be less obvious directionality, from an aesthetic standpoint.

The joint where the cross arm connects to the orbit pole, however, is greatly a source of concern. Brad is worried about a twisting that could create a pendulum effect (to the wheel). Adding a strut across that corner might be a good solution, but it would interfere with the corner of the central door.

In general, that connecting arm needs stability and isolation. What about putting decorative exterior elements to brace it from the outside? Instead of a support that cuts the corner (90 degrees), could it go outside the corner (270 degrees)? And in three dimensions? Like a cast for a broken bone. (Will sketch this in the coming days).



Suggested solution: connect the center pole to the ring track with 3-4 spokes, like a wheel.

Sounds great for helping the track keep its shape, and also adding a wide, splayed base for the central pole.

Initial suggestion was to trench and bury the spokes ~6 inches underground, so the combination of width and depth would keep the center pole aloft.

I’m considering adding more spokes (6 total) and/or having them be flat strips on the surface.

Other details:

These parts are sounding way more affordable than I expected.

Brad might be able to help with fabricating these. Ballpark of 1 week for the first unit, 1 day for each subsequent unit.

Wondering about the possibility of fabricating in Victorville. Space could be cheaper there, but it’s not local to prospective crew members. Or doing the wood/metalwork there, and shifting to LA/Bay/Reno for painting.

TECH: Big Engineering Questions (#1-4)

Each assembly includes:

  • Center door

  • Orbit door

  • Center pole

  • Orbit pole

  • Truss (connecting center to orbit)

  • Wheel(+track) kit

Budget per assembly: $500 (barf emoji)

#1: How To Hinge

Each door needs to rotate 360+ degrees along one long (upright) edge. (“Hinge” might not be the best word, but it’s the best I have so far).

The door will be about 4 inches thick, framed with wood and filled/stabilized with rigid foam.

Initial thoughts were to have the rotation happen external to the door structure, like a typical hinge (as seen in my early models). But now I’m considering having the rotation set into the frame of the door by a few inches, which would hide the pole, centralize the weight a tiny bit, and make everything slightly more mysterious.

New idea is worth a 10% increase in door cost.

Hinges should be very easy to operate. I like the idea of all the doors ending up pointing in the same direction during high winds.

#1b: How to Pole

This may be a separate question from #1, and may be question #0.

Is it hollow or solid? Is it the same for both the central pole (14-17-ish feet) and the orbit pole (11 ish feet)? Is this a core element that should be determined first, or can it be flexible based on other requirements?

#2: How to Wheel

At the bottom of the orbit pole is a wheel! I highly resisted this for a long time due to concerns about the evenness of the playa surface, plus surface erosion/deformation over the course of the event.

Part of why I eventually agreed was because someone mentioned that the wheel could be set in a ring track, which would give it more consistent support.

Maybe instead of a ring, there could be some kind of spring/shock that keeps the wheel in contact with the ground.

Overall, I want it to be very easy for the orbit pole to move.

#3: How to Truss (ie: the attacment and support of the orbit pole)

If decorative metalwork is too heavy and difficult, possibly a simpler metal brace, plus CNC wood decoration.

UPDATE: Initial contact with Brad lead me to believe this might be the most difficult part, engineering-wise.

#4: How to Support

Do we sink the center pole deep into the ground? Do we have a flat brace plate? or a buried brace plate?