It has been a busy winter at Formstone Castle (Actually it’s been super busy since July, but those posts will come later).
Last spring we visited the very first Light City Baltimore festival. Saturday night in particular was a wild conversion of friends, neighbors, art, music, and weather. We began thinking of ways to get involved in 2017, but couldn’t quite figure out what we should do. It wasn’t until May when we resurrected the Kinetic Couch that we focused on an idea. Our 2016 KSR was a great success. We won our second (2/2!) major award: “The Next To Last Award”.
We’re still not exactly sure where the convergence of ideas came from, but we decided to apply the look of Japanese Dekotora trucks with our 3 person couch and coffee table. In about 3 weeks we put together a killer proposal for Light City 2017. In the process of writing the proposal the project evolved, took on collaborators, fed back their input into the piece over and over until we came up with this:
In the process we also roped in artist friends to collaborate. Katlyn Wyllie would make the mural on the back, Charlotte Hager would make the costume for the creature, Adam Rush would make a 6 hour music mix and Siri and I would build the couch and coordinate all of the other details.
As winter settled in, we wanted to have lights and controllers in hand to being building prototypes and playing with code. Our first orders were placed within hours of hearing we were selected so that we could have them by Christmas to play with. We wanted to order as much as we could locally, but some parts did come from over seas such as the controllers and WS2811 LED light strips. The battery was sourced from Best Battery in Baltimore. It is a giant 12v 150lb 255Ah deep cycle battery. This was all set up in the basement with our fuses and wires run up through our floor vent into the living room where we used the lights as our Christmas tree, but also to test our ability to power them from the battery, charge the batter and program the controllers. If you got our Christmas card, this was in the background.
We also started the the process of strengthening the rear wheels and brake as they’d need to hold several hundred additional pounds with the new design. I wanted cast aluminum wheels to be able to handle serious side loads. A quick trip to Baltimore Cycle Salvage led to some dope 1981 Suzuki GS400 Enkei wheels with mesh disc brakes, calipers and brake/clutch levers. I can’t overstate how generous Dean at Baltimore Cycle Salvage was. He practically gave us the parts and was fully supportive of our way outside of the box project.
Around this time we moved into Spirits Tavern’s garage on Bank Street in Upper Fells Point. We didn’t want to work outside in the winter so we made sure to add this into the budget. Here is a good spot for a pause. The following day we left to Puerto Rico for a quick winter vacation to prepare us for the wildest 2 months finishing this up. Details in following post.