Archive for the ‘Burning Man’ Category


The Colour Stealing Cloak

30 September, 2013

The Colour Stealing Cloak is version two of the Cloak of Many Lights. It looks similar, with twinkly white lights under layers of organza*. But this one is different. Let’s say I am wearing it of an evening, and I get chatting to someone, and this person is wearing a nice blue hat.

Me, looking at their hat: “Oh, I like your hat! It’s a lovely shade of blue!”
Them: Oh, thank you!
Me, looking them straight in the eye: “Such a lovely colour! I’m going to steal your colour!!!”

At this point they probably think I am away with the fairies**, but I reach out and touch their hat:

The cloak comprises 150 individually addressable RGB LEDs stitched onto a layer of black fabric.

150 LED modules are surprisingly heavy.

LEDs stitched on, before the organza is added.

It’s powered by a hefty Li-ion battery on a shoulder-strap…

Probably fine, right?

Battery in shoulder pouch.

… and connected to a glove. The glove has a colour sensor mounted on the index finger and two buttons on the side of the middle finger: one to trigger a colour change, the other to go back to twinkle mode.

Hardly cyborgy at all.

Glove with colour sensor and buttons.

There’s an Arduino controlling the whole thing.

Wires, wires everywhere.

The brains.

Despite months of planning, I had to nip into a campmate’s RV to make the finishing touches to the code on-playa. To my alarm, this is rapidly becoming a tradition.

Makes me look a bit like Allie Brosh, if I do say so myself.

Carefully planned before construction.

This little performance generated some pretty nice reactions. One guy told me that it blew his mind, which against the backdrop of Burning Man I consider quite a compliment. However, my favourite was the reaction of my camp‘s fearless leader, who stood for a moment in open-mouthed astonishment and then declared me to be a witch.

* Ok, that’s really the last time I work with organza.

** Which, let’s be honest, is not unusual at Burning Man.