Engineering Roundtable - EL Wire Burning Man Sign


Today we have August's first edition of "Engineering Roundtable." If you missed the announcement post, Engineering Roundtable is a new SparkFun video series featuring a triumvirate of SparkFun employees talking about the projects they hold near and dear. These three SFE electronic gurus - Chris Taylor, Joel Bartlett, and Nick Poole - will take turns explaining their build processes and the trials and tribulations of DIY electronics hacking. The feature will run the second and last Mondays of the month. Today we have a project from SparkFun Engineer Chris Taylor.

Chris is one of SparkFun's early employees and has made a name for himself in the SFE engineering department as one of the most creative engineers on staff. Chris’s electronics career started when he was 12 and built a flashlight out of a battery, a light bulb, and a bit of wire. This project ignited his interest in electronics and he set out to learn BASIC at the age of 13. After high school, he continued to pursue his passion in embedded systems and earned a degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Colorado.

As a child, Chris was afraid of loud noises - a phobia he overcame after being in two very loud punk rock bands. Besides his interest in punk music, motorcycles, and the Baltic Sea, Chris is a founding member of Boulder's first hackerspace, Solid State Depot. Chris's embedded electronics strengths lay in programmable logic and assembly-level coding. A dedicated "Burner," Chris regularly attends the Burning Man festival in Nevada, an event which tests his creativity to come up with unique innovations and designs.  Which segues nicely into today's project - check it out!


Vimeo version found here.

If you have any comments or questions, feel free to leave them below. Hope you enjoyed this edition of "Engineering Roundtable!"


Comments 20 comments

  • There’s one thing that is bugging me. I’m sure that all three are nice guys, great at their jobs, but calling them things like “the coding king” is a complete turn off. I used to work with a bunch of guys who were described as gurus in all the companies marketing stuff, and they were some of the worst programmers I’ve ever met. I spent 6 months just making one guys stuff not crash.

    Basically, please tone down the hype.

    Definition of an expert , an ex is a has been, and a spurt is a drip under pressure !

    • Haha! I’m right there with you on this. Trust me when I say that “Coding King” was not my first choice. I wanted “Pissed-Off Nerd,” but that was deemed inappropriate. The hype is a bit much, and the absence of a round table or more than one person indicating some sort of collaboration is confusing. We’re kind of figuring this series out as we go along, but for now I just hope people learned some more about working with EL wire.

  • Can we see the sign lit up?

    • We’ll definitely get a shot of it lit up posted soon. For this video we wanted to show the design/build process, and due to time constraints, we couldn’t get the nighttime shot. Keep an eye out for it soon.

      • I can understand why you didn’t do an actual night shoot, but fliming it in an interior room with the lights off can be done at any time.:p

  • How do you make the “DO” flicker? Can you share the hardware / code you use to do that?

  • Why EL wire instead of an LED and Light Pipe?

  • that’s cheese. Don’t forget to sell me something and not see it working!! Suppose to be one of “most creative engineers on staff.” Nate, save some money. Hire a salesman for 30k a year and stash this guy in the back room. If I was you I’d go down to the local used car dealer and see if a salesman will come work for you. Those guys are really good at making crap look and feel great!

  • I want that soldering iron!!!!

  • I always thought it would be fun to work with neon. High voltage and fire!

  • Lost on the playa? Who’s ever heard of such a thing?….

    Very informative, i’ve been thinking about some projects with e.l. wire, good basic info.

    If you stop by “Camp Baggage Check” (to play dodge ball, or morning yoga) give a shout out from Preemie, I won’t be able to make it this year.

  • I really like the idea, light sequencing is the way to go! Even with LED’s.

  • Chris, come by The Pier, I have a question for you for our project for 2014… I think you’ll like it.

  • Where could there possibly be that many bikes?

    • I used to only own two bikes, but then I started building them from scratch. It kind of became an addiction.

      • Bikes ftw!!! I only have one really nice diamond back mountain bike with disk brakes– so much fun to ride!! Have you attempted to light up a bike? that would make for an interesting project!

    • There are that many and more bikes in my garage. With seven other family members, and I have a MTB and Road and unicycle(s).

    • I alone, also have that many bikes, though most are mountain bikes.

      • Wow! I own one bike, I would like to get a road bike. I guess there would be a lot of places to bike to in colorado though. Wisconsin isn’t the most mountainous region.


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