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People doing strange things with electricity

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Images from Karen Marcelo
Images from Swissnex SF

Blind Juggler - Philipp Reist
Christopher Schardt Part 1 from James Young
Christopher Schardt Part 2 from James Young

7:30pm Wednesday
02 November 2011

MADE (Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment)
610 16th St. Suite 230 dial #0230 to get in

Donations ($5-$20) to the space much appreciated. No one turned away for lack of funds

MADE (Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment)

Philipp Reist - The Blind Juggler

Philipp Reist and Raffaello D'Andrea developed a series of juggling robots for dynamics and control research at the Institute of Dynamic Systems and Control. A first prototype is called the Blind Juggler, which is able to juggle balls at heights of up to 7 feet without any sensors detecting the ball. Philipp will outline the principles underlying the Blind Juggler and discuss open research questions in controls and nonlinear dynamics that we face with new prototypes. Philipp concludes with a preview of the Juggling Ensemble art installation that we are currently developing. Additional info may be found at

Born in 1982, Philipp grew up in Zurich, Switzerland. He obtained a Masters degree in Mechanical Engineering from ETH Zurich, where he eventually built the Blind Juggler for his Masters thesis. During his studies, Philipp spent two exchange semesters at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he worked on his Bachelor thesis and on a randomized control algorithm. Since 2009, Philipp has been working towards a PhD in controls engineering at the Institute of Dynamic Systems and Control at ETH Zurich, where he now, among other projects, explores unstable system behavior for motion planning and control of uncontrollable dynamical systems. In addition to research, Philipp is interested in mechatronic art and teaching mechatronics to high-school students.

Jonathan Foote - Yet More Robots and Things that Glow

Jonathan will be showing some things he's been working on recently, including robotic desklamps with high-power LED color engines, a laser projection oscilloscope, and a 10-meter steel tree with three kilowatts of LEDs.

Jonathan Foote is a recovering research scientist with a background in machine learning and electronics. He does technical consulting to pay the rent and the balance of his time doing lighting design and building robots.

Christopher Schardt - Garden of Rockets

Garden of Rockets is a set of three mechanical sculptures whose motion is caused by the thrust from propane burners. In 4pyre², a 12' pipe moves around on two axes, tracing out a sphere. In Pyroticulation, the motion is like that of a spirograph. In PyroGoRound, three spinning 8' pipes are mounted on the ends of 12' arms, all spinning on a vertical axis.

The throttle and the angles of the burners are remotely controlled. The throttle is entirely analog (a ball valve). The burner angles are manipulated by Arduino Mega256 microcontrollers connected to 12V DeWalt drill motors and rotary encoders. Each machine has a control panel with another Arduino that communicates with the one(s) in the machine via RS-485. (Old but good!)

All three machines were seen at Burning Man 2011. 4pyre² was at Burning Man 2010 as well. Various combinations of machines have been at Decompression events in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Christopher will present some lovely photos, videos, and words. If space permits, he will also bring PyroGoRound's control panel and one of its arms, so as to demonstrate his recent work improving the servo-control software. You may recall a dorkbot-blabber discussion about PID algorithms. It will be demonstrated how the P, the I, and the D coefficients alter the servo's response.

Christopher Schardt is an C++/Objective-C programmer who annually hinders his career advancement by building large things for Burning Man. In 2000 he made Spin, a 12'-high, 12'-diameter POV-based cylindrical digital display. In 2002, he made Ping, a Vanagon-sized submarine art car. In 2003 he made Yantra, an LED/el-wire-lit temple to all religions and none at all. In 2004, he and his lovely wife Betty Ray made Nebula, a propane/blacklight representation of the Crab Nebula. Then came many years building Catwalk Studios and fathering a child. Now he's back to making spinny fire-things.

He also writes iPhone/iPad apps and jazz/funk/pop music.

If you would like to give a presentation in the future or host a dorkbotSF meeting, please contact Karen Marcelo at dorkbotsf [at] dorkbot [dot] org