The Ripple Build

Trial by Laser

It’s kind of weird to see your own handwriting etched onto acrylic. Not exactly surprising, since I spent so much time making a font of my own handwriting and figuring out how to laser engrave it. Just weird.

Here’s our first mini-test of a poem panel. Ripple will have about 40 of these on its inner ring, each about 2.5′ wide.

Still Life with Janky Light

EPOXY IS MAGICAL. I mean, wear gloves. But magical. If you ignore what it really is. Magic is like that sometimes.

Pro tip: when working with acrylic, big bulky fittings and caulk is not the way to go. It turns out that you can just drizzle some liquid plastic in the crack and it literally turns into plastic. Right in the crack.

And all over the fucking place. And all over your hands because you thought you could get away with not wearing gloves. But you can get better at that part.

I’d like to introduce the first real test of an airtight Ripple tube. We did it. This is a serious project milestone.

Maybe we’ll work on lighting and sound next. That sounds lovely.

Starting to See It

The water, that is. Today we did the first test with actual side ports installed in an actual acrylic tube. One that I didn’t destroy.

The side ports are brutish, but they work. A bit of leftover tile caulk and a bulkhead union just might work, if we weren’t trying to make an art piece. And it’s still an open system. But… how cool is that?

Answer: it’s sort of cool. It’s encouragingly cool. It’s a not-close-to-done sort of cool. But still cool.

Where Greatness Begins

Greatness always, always begins on the floor of your garage, in front of a bunch of trash cans. It might begin with something hanging from your garage door opener, because the pipe for the fire suppression system was too low.

As a quick followup to the March 26 test, we took our learnings and made something that actually works.

V1 — it’s a big pile of jank. But it works.

Proving that your idea works is the single biggest thing you can ever do. Everything after this is just refinement.

Here’s a few minutes of audio from V1.

The Closed Circuit Sieve

On March 26 we had our first successful build of something that looks vaguely like a closed circuit fountain. It leaks like a sieve, but we’re ignoring that part.

This is a proof of concept with a 100W pump, a fully built airtight bucket, a ½” main feed line to ⅜” tube feed line, and two ⅜” drain lines.

It turns out that when you push pressurized water through a 3/8″ tube and also try to drain it with an unpressurized 3/8″ tube, the drain can’t keep up with the feed line. These are the kinds of things one could calculate in advance, but sometimes seeing the mistake is more fun.

Water flow with this pump and the ⅜” feed was good and strong.

Feeding the pump line though the lid of the bucket is a PITA, it makes it really awkward to get the lid off.  We’ll try next with a bulkhead union on the side of the bucket so it can just be permanently installed.

The bucket concept is working well.  Here it is closed and ready to transport. Just plug in, fill with water, and go.

We also got to work with the first acrylic tube.  After a bit of research, these are less prohibitively expensive than expected.

PSA: acrylic is brittle. We knew this. And have now confirmed it. Acrylic is brittle. If you were thinking you could drill a 1″ hole in the side of such a tube using an old, rusty, dull spade bit, you would be wrong.

Next steps:

  • Refactor to ½” drain lines
  • Design tube sidewall fitting.
  • Run feed line through side of bucket.
  • Buy 12V DC pump to try.  Trying this one.

Power Play (Damn it feels good to be a Playa)

Gasoline sucks. I can personally guarantee you that no matter how many precautions are taken, some gets on the Playa. I also don’t like breathing it. Or going out several times a day to pour it into a big stinky machine

So, in line with BMOrg’s push for sustainability, Ripple will be solar. We hope Ripple will be solar. Please help us make Ripple solar.

Our power lead, Michael Vermette (Woodstock) is focusing almost exclusively on this. It turns out that pumping 30 gallons of water 10 feet into the air takes some power. Who knew?

The solar system we’ll need to power this project will likely cost nearly $5000. But this effort is worth the cost. At the end of a long day we’ll come home stinking of release, and freedom. Not gasoline. You will enjoy Ripple without having to smell more exhaust. And the Playa will continue to feel good.

Please help us make Ripple solar

RIP Flow. You were loved.

Picture this: you have an idea. It burns in your mind like fire. Like fuel. Powering you on to the horizon even when you spend a few years with nothing to show but an intention. You finally sketch some designs. You write some content. It’s fair dinkum good, dammit. You’ve got something.

A name comes to you: Flow. The ceaseless flow of a cycle of water eating its own tail. The flow of words. The flow of the human experience. And it’s also a suggestion, a request, a demand: flow. Like a twig in the shoulders of a mighty stream.

And you think, ok fine. So what if it maybe makes people have to pee. That’ll be a funny little jab. We can take it.

So you make a design. Including v2.1, 2.2, and 3. You find partners and build a team. You make a budget and source things. And since you’ll need to fundraise, you need a site. And for a site, you need a logo.

And the logo appears. The first version looks pretty good.

And should this happen to you, you might find yourself showing it around a bit. Asking for input. You probably expect the little things: maybe a different color. Move that one circle. Add a little pizzaz.

But the feedback you will receive, based on our extensive experience, will be: “this looks like a feminine hygiene product”.

RIP Flow. You were loved.

It takes a village

It was about this point that our other founding member entered the project.  I’d like to thank Warren Trezevant for looking behind the sharp angles of V1 and seeing what could be done with it.  Every project needs that person who comes in saying “I see what you’re trying to do here.  But why are you doing it that way?”.  Thank you Warren for your vision and experience in helping us get where we are today.

So after a few intermediate iterations:

Flow v2.1
Flow v2.2

we landed on something we think you could enjoy and live to tell others about:

Oh V1, you were so adorable

So then suddenly in 2022 I found myself in Sketchup modeling a poetry fountain.  I mean life is strange.  Poetry fountain.  19 years of Burning man plus two years of pent up “what the ever-loving f*ck is happening in the world” sometimes finds you in Sketchup modeling a poetry fountain.

V1 had some flaws.  It was also called “Flow”.  A great name, but slightly cursed.  More on that later.

It sort of did the job, but it also looks a bit like it wants to kill you.  Either way, it probably would have.