Sensatron 5000

I got to work on a really cool project that combined a bunch of things I like and am good at: rolling my face across a keyboard, dressing up like a banana with bunny ears, and dancing under blinking lights.

Let’s talk about things:

What is Burning Man?

  • An outdoor arts festival?
  • Camping in the desert with 70,000 of your closest friends for a week?
  • An annual festival that takes place at Black Rock City—a temporary community erected in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada.
  • Black Rock City becomes the third largest city in Nevada, having it’s own post office, airport, and free medical help.


Wait but really what is Burning Man?

Ok so this is a hard question to answer succinctly, so let’s touch upon what kinds of things happen there.

Burning Man co-founder Larry Harvey wrote the Ten Principles in 2004 as guidelines for the newly-formed Regional Network. They were crafted not as a dictate of how people should be and act, but as a reflection of the community’s ethos and culture as it had organically developed since the event’s inception.


One of the Ten Principles: Radical Self Expression:

“Radical self-expression arises from the unique gifts of the individual. No one other than the individual or a collaborating group can determine its content. It is offered as a gift to others. In this spirit, the giver should respect the rights and liberties of the recipient.”

Art is Radical Self Expression!

Art Cars!

One form of said art are ‘art cars,’ which are regular cars modified to look crazy and/or do crazy things.


Sensatron 5000

The art car for the Post Nuclear Family!

The Facebook Page


Sensatron Lights


Sensatron 5000’s Hardware:

  • BeagleBoneBlack controls LED lights
  • 12 strings of lights on clock directions
  • each string has 50 lights on it
  • uses shaders to power the lights
  • touchscreen to switch between shaders
  • wasn’t involved in hardware at all, so not really sure the technical specs


Scenario/Problem to Solve

  • People load up on Sensatron and we go on adventures
  • Sensatron stops at random cool things like dance parties, everyone get soff
  • Want to let everyone know the Sensatron is leaving, to give time for everyone to wrap things up.
  • Create a ‘liftoff timer’ to let everyone know the Sensatron is leaving soon!


Shaders and Shadertoy

  • inputs and outputs
  • explain procedural mistake

Color from Left to Right

12 Strings:

Make Colors Wobble:

Make ‘Meter’ Wobble:


OMG it WORKS! Sensatron Countdown Sequence!

Awesome Gallery of Pictures from 2014ish (some NSFW)