Organ backpack documentation

My studio sound project:


As we were required to experiment with sound in combination with our Arduino, I combined a few interests of mine for inspiration on the final product. I love sci-fi and it seems that there is a common trend in every sci-fi movie for some character to be wearing some sort of complex instrument on their back. I had made a previous attempt at creating a backpack, but out of soft material: tarp. This time I wanted to make something solid and strong. I decided to utilize the laser cutters to construct a wooden encasing for my backpack.

I don’t play any musical instruments, so figuring out how to link my project with sound put me in a very uncomfortable position. Naturally I was inclined to make something incredibly unconventional, something that wouldn’t resemble a formal instrument at all, but instead be something different.

I drew inspiration from a clip I found on the internet as I was looking through photos of burning man when i stumbled across a flame throwing organ! I was immediately drawn to the idea. So I took it up to merge the backpack and the unconventional flame organ into one – though without the flames. That would require more technical knowledge than I currently had time to learn.



All photos taken during the construction process were lost when my iphone 4 was destroyed. If I ever find a way to take the memory from the phone, I will post them here.

However, I do have some documentation on the drawings/notes I made:

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final outcome:

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Some photos from the design and technology Play Tech event on D12:
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Final combined studio/coding

The original concept: To create an energy visualizer that collects data from a crowd. The machine would resemble the energy instrument used to measure the main character, Tetsuo, in the Japanese Anime Akira.   The 3D model  before physical construction: Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 8.47.18 PM

Materials purchased:

one 4’x8′ 3/4″ birch plywood from Prince Lumber

one 12″ diameter plastic hemisphere from Canal Plastics

three 18″x12″ 1/8″ clear acrylic sheets

four 8″ 3/8″ diameter bolts with eight accompanying nuts and washers from Home Depot

one length of vacuum tube from Home Depot

one strip of RGB led from Amazon

four potentiometers from RadioShack

wire, wood glue, zap glue, zip ties, translucent mylar

Creating a quick prototype “hologram”. Really this is an illusion called “pepper’s ghost illusion.” Real holograms are created with lasers. Though this is a cheap and visually interesting alternative.


clear PVC 2/32 sheets, wooden dowel, glue


Could not be possible without the generous donation of this computer monitor from Mick, my boss over at the 3D printing/laser lab.



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My rendition of the energy measurement instrument:     Rather than being a machine exclusively for the purposes of measuring and visualizing energy levels, the machine is modular, capable of running many “apps”. The base of the machine is designed with spaceships and the future in mind, complete with diffused blue LED’s, hoses and tubes, and a circular construction. The machine is meant to be used to up to 4 people, as there are 4 potentiometers, one for each person, placed around the perimeter of the hologram. The potentiometers are used to change variables within the main processing sketch.

Mode 1: cube


Mode 2: spaceship


Mode 3: pong

Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 12.30.10 AM

Mode 4: drawing tool


road bumps/struggles/what i’d like to improve/add :

Construction of the base could be cleaner. Additionally, the edges of the pyramid could have been joined in a much more precise way.

if more time: I could make the lights on bottom respond to the potentiometers. I could also add sound and, as Sven suggested, fog that could shoot out of the hoses to create a more immersive interaction environment. Additionally, it would be great to eventually utilize this as the data visualizer I originally intended it to become. The next project would likely be creating a system to collect and parse the data.


All in all, the project took me a long time to make and I am happy with the end result. I think the amount of time I devoted to the project justifies the end result. I also am fairly pleased with the future spaceship looking aesthetic and the interaction that it induces, requiring people to be engaged with the object for the full experience to take effect.