Saturday, August 23, 2008

OT: Building the Lounge

aka, where the heck have we been?!

Because we don't seem to have enough to do on the house, Dan and I took a little "break" to work on another project.. we've been doing this little Burning Man thing for awhile, and for the 10th anniversary of the Thunderdome we thought we'd do it up..

If you happen to remember the post about our wedding, you might recall the flaming arch we made to get married under.. well my dreamy mad scientist envisioned the arch as a doorway to a place we could go after the Thunderdome was done for the night, and the Fire Lounge was born. It made an appearance at Burning Man 2006 and the sketch at left is the plan for Fire Lounge 2008: bigger, better, and with more fire /evil grin

<-- Here's Dan fixing the mount for one of the two flaming tulips. You can see the one behind him has a propane tank sticking out the top.. although these run on propane, that isn't where we store it (we go through MUCH more propane than that!), it's where the gas expands until we open a valve and it all gushes out the top. The copper vines extend further up and serve as pilot lights to ignite the giant ball of flame.

This is Big Dave.
Big Dave is rebuilding one of the valves that wasn't opening.. it's very, very sad when you push the magic button and there's no giant burst of flame.. Dave's making sure that doesn't happen again. Thanks Dave!

This is Annetta.
Annetta is soldering some of the leaves that have fallen off between the wedding, burning man, moving, and then sitting outside in the backyard all winter.. thanks Annetta!

This is Shannon and Mollie.
Shannon and Mollie are helping us plumb little green propane tanks to a great big propane tank so we don't need any more disposable tanks that only last for one night. Thanks Shannon and Mollie!

This is the fire tornado Luke built to keep us warm when the temperature plummets at night in the desert.

That's a vacuum cleaner down at the bottom to draw the air up through some harley exhaust pipes he welded onto a washing machine basin. It's truly the world's most awesome fire pit! Thanks Luke!

This is the control box Dan built to control the different components of the fire tornado. There's a dimmer switch to control the speed of the vacuum, an on/off switch to control the spark, and a knob on the side to control the flow of the propane

This is me cutting a 20' length of 6" cast iron pipe into 2 10' lengths to start off an awesomely cool new piece for the fire lounge. A friend sent us a youtube link to a Rubens Tube, which is apparently a common physics class experiment (not in any physics class I ever took!).

The very short explanation is that it's like the equalizer lights on the front of your stereo that bounce up and down with the music, but instead of lights, it's fire!

Here's Emily making sure her dad drills all the holes just right. They have to be the same size, and evenly spaced for this to work.

Here's Dan starting the plumbing to feed propane into the tubes.

The tubes will be sealed on each end with rubber caps (you can see one on the end in the picture), and on one end we'll attach a speaker, which will compress the gas in the tube when it moves, forcing the propane out at a higher pressure, depending on the frequency of the sound. (doesn't that sound cool?!)

Here's the first test.. stand back everyone!

The flames definitely look cool, but they're not oscillating as much as we'd hoped.

What does one do with a silicone baking pad when one doesn't have an oven? Why, use it as a membrane for a rubens tube, of course!

After some trial and error, we decided that the best effect was from the speaker sealed right against the open end of the tube, with no membrane in between. After sealing it with some weatherstripping and a minor mishap with blowing the speaker off the end, it was working pretty well!

Here's a video of test #5


The next thing we needed were stands to sit the tubes on so they'd be at eye-level instead of not-seeing-and-tripping-over-level. This is Josh spending an afternoon whipping up perfectly fabricated stands that stack, are sturdy, can be staked to the ground in the desert or be free standing, and would also hold a wind-shield. Thanks Josh!

As you can probably see in the video, the slightest breeze really wreaked havoc with the flames, so Josh sketched out and whipped up a frame and sheet of metal to arc around the back and sides, protecting the flame from 3 sides. We also decided to add pilot lights so if the wind was coming from that last direction and blew the flame out, we wouldn't have unburnt propane venting.

This is Woody Minor's annual "Woody Walk," which is a walking tour hosted by the Alameda Architectural Preservation Society. Woody is an author and historian and knows everything there is to know about the buildings in Alameda. Although we were bummed we didn't have time to go his year's walk came to us!

We were testing the heat shield setup when the tour came by. We all got a brief history of our house and then Woody declared that ours was his favorite example of Marcuse and Remmel's Eclectic style, and that it had found the perfect eccentric owners to bring it back to life.

.. coming up next time, the fire lounge in action!

1 comment:

Kitt said...

Wow. That Rubens tube is awesome!