Friday, August 20, 2010

I recently counted up the performances that the Hand has given so far, and it's a pretty impressive list.....

•Burning Man Festival, Black Rock City, Nevada, August 2008
•Big Day Out Festival, Gold Coast, Australia, January 2009
•Big Day Out Festival, Sydney, Australia, January 2009
•Big Day Out Festival, Melbourne, Australia, January 2009
•Big Day Out Festival, Adelaide, Australia, January 2009
•Big Day Out Festival, Perth, Australia, January 2009
•Coachella Valley Music Festival, Indio, Califrnia, April 2009
•Stagecoach Festival, Indio, California, April 2009
•Maker Faire, San Mateo, California, May 2009
•Oakland Fire Arts Festival, Oakland, California, August 2009
•Mile High Music Festival, Denver, Colorado, August 2010

On October 8th 9th and 10th, the Hand will perform, for the 12th time, at the Chalk the Block festival in El Paso, TX. Stop by if you are in El Paso and give it a try!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

August 19th, 2010: The Hand has just returned from its 11th successful outing.... Mile High Music Festival in Denver, Colorado.

It was almost a year to the day since its last outing, which was at the 2009 Oakland Fire Arts Festival, and which was arguably somewhat less successful! It was at that show that the pinkie and thumb actually RIPPED off the Hand, necessitating a pretty significant set of repairs and upgrades!

The main upgrades that the Hand received, which were within the last month, were a total re-design of the individual finger joints (which made them MUCH stronger) and the rotation of all the exposed hydraulic cylinders on the back of the Hand (which put all the plumbing INSIDE the fingers as opposed to exposed on the outside; compare the following picture with some of the very early pictures from Burning Man and you can see the difference.) These modifications have made the Hand much more able to withstand the punishment it suffers all the time!

One nice thing we had this last weekend in Denver was a little electric trackbot, courtesy of my friend Zack Bieber of The Machine Lab, which made the re-positioning of the crumpled-up cars a LOT easier.

DAMN, now I have to build one of those!

We had a great crew this weekend...

From left to right, Oswald (Taos), Eric (from Denver's MotoMan Group), Dan Spencer (in army helmet, Boulder), me, Zach Dunkin (Fort Collins), Reason Bieber (in blue, Fort Collins), and Zack Bieber (Fort Collins)

Thanks, wolf pack!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Popular Mechanics Backyard Genius of the Year Grand Prize winner, 2009!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Long time no post...

The Hand has had a very busy, violent, and exciting first year of life!

Since the last post, the Hand has:
• Toured Australia with the Big Day Out Festival,

(In this photo we are assembling the Hand in Melbourne with a very unusual crane. Well, it's unusual by our standards... it is in fact an Australian design and quite common there. We set the Hand up, ran it for the festival, and broke it down 5 times in 2 weeks! Gold Coast, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, and Perth. And each time we did it, we used different equipment.... We got quite good at it!)

• Returned to New Mexico where its wrist-rotate function was rebuilt AGAIN (for the last time... it is super-strong now)

(This design is very similar to the original design for the rotate function, insofar as it uses pairs of cylinders which are "cross-plumbed" and working "against" each other. However, whereas the first design used one pair of cylinders, this new design uses three pairs, with each cylinder being larger than the original ones.)

• Gone to California to perform at the Coachella and Stagecoach festivals in Indio,

(The Coachella Festival was in some ways the most successful appearance yet for the Hand. It was the first time that the new and improved wrist-rotate function was in full effect. It drew the largest and most appreciative crowds to date. Overall, it worked flawlessly. And, it generated some of the best photographic coverage yet! This photo is from Jeff Clark, who I will say is one of my very favorite photographers to work with, because he actually gives me the pictures that he takes of my work. It is a pet-peeve of mine, and many working artists I know, that so many photographers take pictures of artwork, and then refuse to share the images with the artists. That is wrong. Thanks, Jeff!!)

• Performed at the Maker Faire in San Mateo, California

(A lovely dusk portrait, wouldn't you say? It's a little hard to see, but at the rear of the Hand's base are twelve 55-gallon drums filled with water which are used as counterweights. Maker Faire was the first time they were employed, and they seemed to work well. They are now a permanent feature of the sculpture. Also, you can see twelve "road plates", or one-inch-thick sheets of steel, laid out on the ground in front of the piece. This was done in order to protect the ground, and was highly effective. In fact, protecting the ground at Maker Faire was such a high priority that we did not use cars as props, which made for a slightly less dramatic outing, but people had a good time nonetheless.)

• And been photographed for a double-page spread in Popular Mechanics magazine.

(I actually do have a copy of the photograph which will appear in the magazine, but I can't share it at this time! You'll just have to go buy yourself a copy of the September issue when it comes out on August 15th! We shot the Hand at NIMBY.)

I will return to California with Gregory and Christina next week to perform with the Hand again at the Crucible's Fire Arts Festival. This will be it's last showing in California for a little while, and it will finally return to New Mexico after that for some R&R (which, if you are a robot, means Repair and Resuscitation).

I am working on an appearance or two for the Hand in NYC in the fall, and also trying to line up some shows in Europe for next summer. Now that would be exciting!

If some of those things happen, you can bet I will update this darned blog again!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The "wrist-rotate" function never worked at Burning Man, and the "wrist-fold" function didn't work too well. Luckily, there was enough time before shipping the Hand off to Australia to get the wrist functions sorted out. This video shows one of the first successful tests of these motions, as well as the brand new control station (which, like the Hand, runs off the main hydraulic power unit.)

Toby and I will drive the Hand to Los Angeles next week to transfer it into a shipping container bound for Brisbane, Australia! (I think I'm going to have separation anxiety....)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Hand of Man did end up attending Burning Man after all. There were a few challenges along the way, but we overcame them all just in time.

I've put up a link (just a few inches to the right from where you are reading right now) with an excellent video of the Hand done by Current TV. Have a look!

There were many amazing pictures taken of the Hand out there at Burning Man. Most of them are on Flickr, and if you simply click here, you can see most of them.

Here are two of my favorites, taken by an obviously talented photographer who goes by "Extramatic."

There are also a few videos of the Hand on Youtube... clicking here will get you most of them.

After its successful debut at Burning Man, the exciting news is.....

The Hand of Man (and its excellent crew) are going to Australia!!

Yes, that's right. All six of us will chaperone the Hand on a trip around Australia in January in connection with the Big Day Out music festival. Over a span of just 2 weeks we will perform 5 dates all over the continent. Stay tuned for more info.....

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Well, with the infrequency of my posting, one could hardly call this a "blog," but what the hell.... I'm BUSY!

Actually, I probably wouldn't be blogging today at all if my friend Justin hadn't made me feel like such a slacker, so this update is thanks to him.

It's been something like ELEVEN WEEKS since I blogged last, and a lot has happened.

This is a view of the arm, photographed a half-hour ago. (Actually, all these photos were taken 30 minutes ago... how's that for up-to-the-minute reporting!!!) You can see that things have progressed dramatically since the last post. The main pivot, including the hydraulics to power it, is done. The arm up/down hydraulics are in as well. The main arm is pretty much done, and the wrist rotate assembly (the parts of the arm in the foreground) is also done.

In this view from above/behind the entire assembly you can see that the forward outriggers are done. You also get a pretty good view of the right/left hydraulic cylinders.

This view is looking down the arm towards the wrist-rotate assembly. The hydraulic cylinders hanging from the arm in the sub-assembly just to the left of the red cylinders will control the rotation of the wrist.

A bunch of finger parts. the pieces standing upright are, from left to right, the last joint of the thumb, the middle finger, and the pointer and ring fingers. As you can see, they have been slightly tapered to replicate the natural tapering of human fingers. Pretty soon, they will be cut into individual segments and jointed to move like actual fingers. The finger on the ground, the pinkie, has already been jointed and fitted with two hydraulic cylinders. The last joint, as well as its cylinder, has not yet been attached.

The power unit. We have been building this simultaneously with the rest of the hand. All the major components are in place. The Perkins diesel engine is at the upper left part of the frame, the hydraulic reservoir sits below it, the diesel fuel tank is at the lower right, and all the hydraulic plumbing and valves are at the upper right.

The other side of the power unit. You can see the home-made exhaust, made from various shades of green pipe. Most of what remains to do on the power unit is plumbing-related; a few more hydraulic connections and then all the fuel connections to the engine. The engine has not yet been tested.... I really hope it works.....

The HAND is obviously priority number one for me before Burning Man. But just so that I can be assured of a highly stressful few weeks, here are the other things I might try to get done, in descending order of importance: #1: put a new clutch in my big truck (highly critical; I need this truck to transport the HAND, and the clutch just went out.... great timing!) #2: refurbish the Scoutch (that's the Scoutch in the picture above.... not critically important but would be a lot of fun. So far the various people who have promised to come help with the Scoutch have not yet shown up [except for Adam and Wendy - thanks guys!]) And lastly #3: Transplant the high MPG Cummins 4BT engine in the Frito Lay van I just got into the awesome 4X4 van I just got! That's the van in the pic below. (Not critically important at all.... but it sure would be an awesome ride and home for Burning Man. This will only get done if I have lots of extra time on my hands in August..... yeah right!)

Nice van, huh?

(P.S. Many thanks to the awesome and committed Toby Rickabaugh for all the help he's been giving me lately... couldn't do it without you buddy!)