On my night out wednesday night, I was looking at Sound Camps at 2 o'clock at burning man, and go by a big elaborate sound camp that played something that sounded like Trance. I stayed for a bit, and though, "eh, this is something Oakey would play".
I get closer, zoom on the DJ booth, and what do you know, it was Oakey playing. I stayed for his set, and get rewarded by Above and Beyond who came next and also played a great set. It was awesome, I was super tired and had planned to go to bed by 03:00, but I totally scratched that plan, and stayed for the whole set :)
Thank you to all the people involved in making this happen, it was an awesome night. Here's a summary video with the best tunes I heard:
The runway and taxiways were quite good, along with a makeshift tower. After landing, we taped up all openings on the plane very carefully, which is no small feat on a retract plane:
very nice visible chevron showing the runway
albeit mostly dry, the playa was still collapsing under weight
it was courageous to fly in a Cirrus at that time
Big change for the airport were the number of commercial flights, and air terminal, which unfortunately meant a much longer line to get in, and lots of people without paper tickets, severely delaying the rest of us with tickets:
We took a while to secure the plane, it took over 30mn to tape up everything carefully to make it playa-proof.
Eventually, we got to the gate, but that was as disaster with a 2H+ line due to a single person slowly checking every person, including people with will call tickets :(
after way too long, we finally got through the gate
and we were super lucky to get an art car ride into the playa, saving a long walk
exodus pulsing (traffic is held in block of 1h to save on gas and frustration)
Pictures of the flight back, also uneventful:
We did a good cleanup of the plane after landing, and it was good as new :)
With a bit of work shaving the inside, and adding support to make the pixhawk flat, got to fit the speed controller, the OSD, Frsky receiver (later replaced with L9R):
I later moved the GPS/compass up, and the battery monitor down (to avoid interference from the motor)
it fits, but it's pretty full
Next, I added the 3DR radio (antenna), 2 mobius action cams (those are much better than gopro, smaller, lighter, and less cross section to the wind), with one attached to my FPV analog camera so that it can move around on the same servos:
I upgraded from an X8R to an L9R because I figured out I didn't need the telemetry from the X8R and would benefit from the extra range the L9R offers since I was getting telemetry back 2 ways already (via the OSD in the video, and via the apmplane 433Mhz radio channel), and I tried to set the antennas in a cross pattern for best range:
I then did multiple test flights at Rancho San Antonio to tweak the airframe with the new weight and CG, as well as test the equipment and tune it:
While I got some good video and range out of this (over 2km, around mountains even), the main issue was that my 3S lipos weren't delivering enough trust and made takeoffs iffy (the glider would go down before picking up airspeed and going back up). This meant I had to launch from the little hill in the picture above, and the rangers have decided that this is unsafe to others, so it must be forbidden, lovely...
Eventually I ended up with a launch that failed (I threw it too high up), and it instantly talled and crashed hard:
I lost the bearing for the motor, making field repairs impossible)
I actually fixed the first crash, but it weakened the control horn for the elevator. While the elevator passed preflight, the control horn broke in the 2nd flight causing the plane to dive to the ground with no way for me to recover. Unfortunately that crash was a lot faster (full speed, no flare), so the damage was much more serious. I'll have to replace the whole body this time:
But all isn't horrible, I still got some really good flights and videos out of it. My best one is on this page.
While my first Cularis had an unfortunate ending, it was a good starter FPV platform that could fly with a total weight of 2kg (carrying over 700g of gear, including 2 mobius HD cameras, the analog camera used by the transmitter, and the autopilot).
The flight below is best viewed full screen in 1080p to appreciate the OSD view (not that great, but what I was flying with) vs the 2HD pictures (front and rear) and the flight replay on a map showing where the plane was at that time, showing how I flew around a hill and overflew a quary I didn't have light of sight to, at all.
decked out, probably more than it was meant to :)
3 cameras, one for OSD, 2 high res
ready for flying
Here is the main video (again, recommended to see full screen):
The stats at the end show that:
at its farthest point, I was at 2.2km from takeoff point. Considering the hilly terrain and almost flying behind hills, that's not bad :). I'm told the L9R can do 5km in good conditions.
total distance flown about 15km on a 2400mAh 3S pack. It wasn't stone dead on landing, but it was quite low, although thankfully still in the "can be recovered" range.
total height was a bit over 300m above elevation point, but I never really fly that high above terrain, this was necessary to reach proper altitude when crossing the hills with power lines by the cement plant. In other words, my AGL (above ground elevation) was not that high, but high enough to stay safely above rising ground level.
2100mAh from a battery that's allegedly 2600mAh was close enough for that flight. Note that I glided the enter trip back, and that the OSD was showing what glide ratio I had. On landing I was way high, but thanks to a crow flaps mode I had made, flaps+ailerons became huge spoilers and allowed my glider that couldn't have landed from that high, to land just fine :)
The video crapped out a bit due to the distance and the fact that I had to manually re-orient my patch antenna a few times (guesstimating while wearing the goggles and flying). I also almost flew behind a ridge and the video (600mW) and Frsky L9R mostly held kept the signal running.
The video commentaries are from my wife who was wearing a 2nd pair of goggles and had never seen an FPV flight :)
The 2 high res videos were taken with 2 mobius cameras and the virtual flight in the bottom right was created with the datalog from the ardupilot pixhawk that was controlling the plane when signal was lost. The videos were hand synchronized by me because the OSD video was 10 seconds short as a result of the video dropouts.
If you'd like the individual videos:
Like the previous years, it was a lot of work to process/fix/sort all the pictures and write this summary report (2940 to start with this year, all organized by cateory). All pictures are geotagged, so you can click on them to see where they were.
As a way to say thanks if you enjoy the report, share it with your fellow burners, or friends who might be interested in burning man.
If you'd like to see reports from previous years, you can go to my main BM page, and especially if you don't know burning man, you should read my 2002 page which has more of an introduction.
If you'd like to use my pictures in a commercial setting, drop me a line to discuss and I can give you full resolution pictures (marc<at>merlins.org).
If you want to say thanks with cash, please donate money to one of the many camps and art installations that are often out of pocket after burning man, be it Opulent Temple or others.
Of course, BM was a lot bigger this year than last time I went in 2007. I tried to bike as many streets as possible to see all the camps people built, but even after 4 days of biking and 127 miles biked :) I had to exclude the outer streets. Here's what I was able to see:
It had been 7 years since my last trip to burning man in 2007 (if you read my 2007 report it has some hints why). I think the novelty hard worn off a bit, and the time to prepare before and clean up after made it a bit less fun for me (smarter people take gear make it playa gear and never use it anywhere else again, but somehow I never quite did that since a fair amount of my gear I use elsewhere too and feel bad buying double just for that).
If that makes me a softie and loser in the eyes of hard core burners, sorry :) (and I still have 7 burns so far, so hopefully that's not too bad :) )
You can go to my main BM page if you'd like to see my other burns.
Anyway, this was the year I woke up and decided to go back, just to learn that getting tickets was now near impossible. Thankfully my friend Joyce was able to locate a spare one for me, and we flew in together:
You can read more about the flight here
The fun thing about burning man was how in a city of 50,000 people I ran into several people I hadn't seen in a long time, including Gen, as well as Michael and Blondie whom I recognized from their back at night while biking by. Talk about the odds :)
my friend Gen, found volunteering at playa info
The Tech Side
The tech side of burning man is usually hidden, but consider the following:
high speed point to point internet link to the nearby city of gerlach
a real NOC with free NOC engineers who do this the rest of the year and know what they're doing
wifi repeaters and autoconfiguration setups
power distribution from multiple sources, from solar to diesel (burning man doesn't provide power to camps, but to its own infrastructure, and big camps also provide their own, mini cities in the city).
how to properly burn structures in a way that's both safe and doesn't throw too much debris in the air
precise GPS mapping of the city in a way that changes a bit every year to lessen the impact on the playa (what my own GPS map on this page is based on).
An airport with 2 runways built on ground that's generally not so safe for planes.
I've also seen FPV biking (one person hoding a camera and biking ahead and the other person biking blind behind with a set of wireless video goggles).
the amount of fancy LED lighting on people, bikes, and art cars is of course amazing to see each time.
all the very fancy art installations and art carts (some running on arduino or other microcontrollers):
remote controllable chair with driving cameras
Black Rock City
I always try to start with the city itself, visiting installations from BMorg:
The Artery is a good place to go to find out where the major art installations are, as well as which burns are going to happen on a given day (you can look at the burn radius in red dots to see how big that burn will be):
this is the map where you look for the burn radius in red dots
Since last time I've been, there are now post offices and ice at 3, 6, and 9 o'clock, which considering the size of the city is a great thing:
ice at 3, 6, and 9 o'clock
we also had 3 post offices
indeed there is no team in fuck you :)
thank you to the folks providing medical care
lamp lighters every night helped us out with light
One treat at Burning Man is always the sunrises and sunset:
It's always fun to go check out the deep playa to see the contrast from the city:
Weather is also interesting, between dust storms (no big ones this year), rain and rainbows (just missed a big rain on monday before arriving), and dust devils:
Night pictures of the playa are also nice:
One thing to do during burning man is to bike to the trash fence, look a random patches of lit art, and look back at the city:
I found this kangaroo mouse, so cute
It was by the lost outpost, which was well done:
If you're lucky, you'll find a structure you can climb for better view (here Embrace):
There is art on the playa everywhere of course, too much to see all, especially as it comes and goes during the few days, but here are some shots:
this bird would fly when you pedalled
not sure if it fits in a porta potty, but still helpful :)
playa art on wheels
Of course, night time gets even more interesting :)
this control console let you change the color patterns on this sculpture
the creator explaining how you could program the flashing patterns
During the day, I spent most of my time visiting all the camps I could see. I'll start with a few pictures of Red Lightening, where I happened to be staying:
my tent with shade and power :)
never saw these tesla coils working, what a shame
time for a nap in some shade, this definitely had customers :)
yes, glitter can be used as full body sunscreen :)
they promised to go play by the trash fence at midnight. Somehow I didn't find them there, wasn't too surprised :)
bad ass tatoos, impressed...
Irish bar with singing
another afternoon nap pod
'gas' station :)
went there to attend a talk about astrophysics and more, no kidding :)
I will need to get my EZpass for next year :)
flashing your junk got you a snow cone faster :)
Of course, it's interesting to go see camps a night too, the other city :)
Of course, thunderdome was still there, still a crowd favourite:
I'm putting sound camps in their own category because they are such a big part of the nights. Some are actually a cross between art cars and mobile sound camps. Since last time I came, I was impressed by how much bigger and numerous they got. Some are crowdfunded (some total veterans like Opulent Temple), and others are paid by wealthy and generous burners (like White Ocean and Root Society). Both are very welcome and appreciated, and as far as I'm concerned, I'm still a trance addict, so I go for that, wherever it is :)
Opulent Temple had a great lineup announced for all
White Ocean's lineup was a bit harder to read, and no set times :)
Sander Van Doorn
Oakey, spinning in his own camp
handing off to Above and Beyond
There were many more sound camps, but I just couldn't be everywhere. Here are some pictures:
Root Society was the major sound camp across the playa at 2 o'clock.
DanceTronauts had an awesome mobile installation:
I of course also enjoy taking pictures of people :)
BM of course is known for its parades. I happened to catch critical dicks going by (critical tits was whited out by a dust storm):
The billion bunny march is always fun too :)
Of course, one main attraction of BM are all the crazy vehicles, art carts, and bike-like constructions :)
I'm on a motherfing yacht! :)
I actually found the number of crazy bikes went down, but still caught a few:
And then this:
Speaking of bikes, when biking in the middle of the playa at night, more light is usually better (as soon as you don't blind people coming the other way). It's most useful for seeing sand pits ahead of you and steer around them:
this is a normal high power 1000 lumen flashlight
My 3000+ lumen firesword, love it :)
water truck to to make the roads easier to use
DPW, Department of Public Works:
propane refills for all your fire needs :)
Other random vehicles (not art cars) seen during the week:
After people and vehicles, I have my usual Fire picture section, fire shows, fire dancing, fire structures, and random burns:
Alien Siege had an awesome structure and burn. The pre-burn show easily rivalled the man's, the alien was attacked with pyrotechnics and fought back by shooting at its attackers:
nah, it's not even hot :)
Other miscellaneous burns:
Embrace was the big fancy construction from an outside team this year. You could climb inside and there was even a small passageway to cross to the other structure. Unfortunately, the view from up there was limited since outsie of the eyes, there weren't really any viewing windows, but it was still nice.
Very unusually the burn was at 07:00, which meant I went to bed for 2h and got back up somehow to go see it. That was tough... This was supposed to be for lower winds, but honestly the winds at 04:00 are pretty much always lower than winds after the sun rise. Anyway, the structure wasn't chiefly designed for being burn, so the outer skin went up in blaze quickly, and the inside structure which was very soundly built never came down. I personally gave up after 1h of waiting and went to bed :)
it was touching to see them burn together
this is as far as it burned :)
Temple Of Grace
One touching part of Burning Man is always the temple, this year the Temple of Grace, to read the notes left by people about lost ones, from family to pets, to celebrities (here Robin Williams). The inside was also beautiful:
Ah, yes, there is some kind of little wooden man there that gets burned :)
This year, it was much bigger than usual, which meant no platform. I thought it was kind of a shame because I liked the platform you could climb and get sweeping pictures from, and turns out the platform actually was quite useful for bring a good blaze to the man and allow it to burn whell. This year, the fire went up, but the feet never really burned, and despite being half cut with a chain saw before the burn, it took over an hour and extra help for it to fall.
Then came the burn:
ranger meeting before the burn
lots of pyrotechnics, that was impressive
this is why I check the wind direction and don't sit downwind :)
the core man was strong, it didn't really burn or fall
note how the legs were cut, but that didn't help
But finally, after way too long, the man fell down, but it wasn't really a clean burn, there were beams across the ground, so the dancing around the fire wasn't easy when you had to jump over half burning beams that were still lying across.
nothing bad can happen here if you jump high enough :)
Since it had been 7 years since my last bm, the changes are obviously bigger with more people. We didn't get any severe weather after monday (I arrived tuesday), so that part wasn't too bad for a change.
I think I made the mistake to try and go see as many streets as possible, and ended up not spending enough time on the center playa to see the cool stuff there. At night, it was a bit gruesome to get so little sleep and twice wake up for sunrise (once for a DJ set, and once for the Embrace burn).
While the non burning man with no platform is hopefully something that will get remedied next year, I otherwise found that BM didn't change in worse ways (as in the "it was so much better last year" meme), which is a good thing. The ticket limit, auctions and scalping are a problem, but on the plus side while BMorg actually did a better job in the last 7 years keeping the ticket prices from rising as much. Ironically the only sane way to fix the ticket problem is to make an auction with higher prices, cutting out people who can't pay as much.
I was just not very impressed with some law enforcement apparently having sting underage officers (between 18 and 21) trying to get alcohol without being carded to bust camps. I'm not an alcohol person, but having to carry your ID around the playa is kind of a stupid thing if you lose it. That said, all officers I saw were actually doing a good job of trying to enforce the law in helpful ways as opposed to unhelpful ones. Hopefully the trend continues in that direction. Hopefully the cowboy save the world local sheriff or DEA agents are an exception.
Anyway, after 6 days it was time to fly home, 'till next time :)
traffic pulsing on the way out (allows you to wait with your engine off/take a nap)
If you're still here and actually reading, here are tips I'd like to share from my personal experience:
Go to the Artery to find out what is burning and when each day
Go see the man before the day it burns, it'll be closed on Saturday
Same thing for the temple, go see it before Sunday
If you want a good seat, fo to the Man Burn at least 90mn early with some reading, check the wind (don't sit downwind), and don't sit just at 06:00, too many VIPs will be in front of you and block your view (no fair!). 05:50 or 06:10 will work better.
You took your bike to the man burn or the temple burn? Do not leave it next to an object that actually can move. If you have a GPS, this a very very good time to leave a waypoint of where your bike is. You will thank me later. If not, find a lamp post or something that you can find for sure when you've turned 3 times around the man, you don't know where 6 oclock is anymore, and you might not be sober anymore either :)
If you run towards the man when it falls, turn counter clockwise, wear full clothing (burning stuff flies, it could burn you), and wear goggles (amber in your eyes is not good).
If you walk, wear lights for others to see you (some have died run over by art cars). If you have a bike, use custom blinking lights so that you can find it later in a sea of bikes
You didn't use your bike since last burning man? You didn't clean it? Have it inspected and cleaned or expect it to fail during burning man. There are camps at 3 and 9 oclock that can help you fix your bike, but they'd rather that you take care of your bike so that they don't have to :)
Once, go to 12 oclock and the trash fence, look for weird art out there, turn around, and look at the sea of lights and crazy music all playing at once. Nowhere else can you see that. Even if daft punk wasn't there, it's worth it :) (I saw the lost outpost 7 that way as well as the kangaroo mouse, see pictures above).
I'm not giving you a packing list, but if you don't have duct tape, a 1000 lumen LED light, and a swiss army knife, you're probably doing it wrong :) Same thing for ear plugs :)
I bought a fatshark with integrated pan/tilt system, but found out the hard way that it's not designed to be mounted upside down (i.e. having your camera upside down without the picture being upside down).
Unfortunately, the integrated fatshark mount is not designed to be used upside down. As sad as it is, I had to take it apart, use a soldering iron to move/widen some holes by melting the plastic, and then fill the gaps from the old holes to avoid having dust go inside and end up on the sensor (there are also a couple of tabs to break/cut out/melt away to allow for screwing the back plate upside down).
Here are the pictures:
Jennifer and I happened to be in Chicago during the right weekend for their annual air and water show. We missed the morning activities, but apparently it's 5H of a lot of waiting and something once in a while in between, with most of the nice stuff in the last 45mn of so. Putting aside this weird (if not to say lam-ish) format for an airshow, what we got to see was fairly nice.
This was only my 2nd time seeing an F22 do an airshow, and while I had seen the thunderbirds before, it never hurts to see them again, they put on a great show.
since there was a whole lot of waiting, many folks used the opportunity to enjoy the 'beach'
Since we were flying to Chicago and were going to be on Pacific time when arriving, Jennifer made the good call of getting us a dinner reservation at Alinea the day we arrived, and we enjoyed a very nice dinner at Alinea. The dishes were quite inventive, but what was special was the presentation of each dish which really was a little spectacle of its own.
The pictures aren't great, because we were not allowed to use flash, but still got a few good ones:
food was hidden in there, you had to find it
fake corn with bacon and other yummy stuff in there
edible sugar balloon filled with helium, good times :)
and 15 courses later, we finished with the 2nd dessert
Jennifer was fairly disappointed with the regular wine pairing, and I found out they had a premium wine pairing but they only offered it a few days after we went, so we didn't get to enjoy that. Apart from that, the food was definitely tasty, super well presented, and fun. Definitely an experience you don't get elsewhere.
Jennifer and I had seen part of the Museum of Science and Industry 8 years ago in Chicago, but we barely had half a day then which totally wasn't enough. This time, by going all day, we got to see most of it. It is big and well worth a full day:
I can't believe it's been 8 years since my last serious visit with Jennifer. I used the opportunity of going to Chicago for Linuxcon 2014 to go early, stay with Jenifer's family, and go see things we hadn't seen so far, and after 4.5 days, turns out there are things left to go see for next time :)
Here are the pictures, starting with random Chicago pictures:
We had some "lovely" weather some days, on sunday the airshow got cancelled due to appalling visibility with fog all day. We went to see the Navy Pier stained glass museum instead:
Went to see a few churches too:
The Chicago History Museum recommended by Arturo wasn't as interesting to me, but more to Jennifer:
Jennifer and I had seen part of the Museum of Science and Industry 8 years ago, but we barely had half a day then which totally wasn't enough. This time, by going all day, we got to see most of it. It is big and well worth a full day:
this would show your veins through your skin
I fell! :)
The field Museum was also worth a full day. Actually a day wasn't enough, even at my pace. I did do a 90mn private backstage tour though, without that I might have finished it. It is a quite good natural history museum:
On our last day, Jennifer and I started with a Chicago History walking tour, showing the notable buildings in the south loop:
We then finished with the Adler Planetarium:
And this wrapped up our time in Chicago, we just had enough time to get back to ORD and catch the last flight back home. It was time well spent, but we didn't finish it all, which I guess is good news for next time :)
Time flies, it's already been five years since our wedding day. We just did things simple, but celebrated the occasion by rollerblading on the Los Gatos Creek Trail, one of our first dates. We ended at Fleur de Cocoa where we got our wedding cake and had a pastry of what our cake was:
That evening, Jennifer made a reservation for a tasting menu at a new restaurant for us, Ambience in Los Altos. It was actually quite good, but the Asian chef didn't believe in bread, so there was none whatsoever, which bummed the Frenchie in me a little bit (some dishes really go quite well with bread) but the dinner was well done, food was tasty and the presentation (plates) was well above average. Chef Song also did a very pretty sugar piece for our anniversary, it was a piece of art.
That made for a good day, we even got a surprise call from Fabien, the French person we found who made that great wedding dinner we all enjoyed 5 years ago. Thanks Fabien!