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12

Apr

The design is close to final at this point, though I’m sure we’ll make minor adjustments during construction. We added more snow to hide the wheels and raised the elevated rear seating area to free up more room in the rest of the compartment.

Color-Treatment

Artist Tom Dawson has agreed to build a reindeer for the front of the sleigh. He’s still working on the design, but it will have a similar industrial/rocket/steampunk motif.

christmas carol

9

Apr

The Merry Marauder Facebook page is now up and running if you want to follow major developments there.

Parkingbigger

We also posted our Newbies vs Veterans list there – it’s a compilation of stuff from Dustin and past campmates.

Newbies vs Veterans

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15

Mar

Electronics2

We spent a lot of the winter assembling the guts of the sound, lighting, and electronics for the sleigh. I’ll post more details as the assembly comes together, but in the picture above you can see:

48v to 12v voltage reducer (so we can run everything off the 48v battery pack)
Motor temperature monitor and relay (so we don’t burn out the motor)
64 feet of RGB LED strip lighting
1959 Cadillac bullet tail lights
Vintage voltmeter and ammeter
Military throw switches
JL audio marine wakeboard speakers (rocket engine pods)
JL audio 600watt class-d amplifier
Fuse box; various gauge wires and interconnects
Vintage first aid kit (will house ipod and light controls – as well as first aid supplies)
25″ clown horn

Below is a 500w par64 spotlight off an old fire engine that will be mounted on the front of the sleigh to light up our reindeer. And two sets of 40″tall blow mold candles and santas that will be rewired with brighter 12v lighting.

image image Santas

Getting everything wired right is going to be an interesting challenge. As we thought about it we realized we need more controls than just one on/off switch. For example, you want to be able to leave on the running lights while you’re absent for the vehicle for a while without someone being able to drive off with it. We want to be able to turn off or dim the monster front spotlight while approaching art and the city, while still having some headlights. And so on.

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10

Mar

In addition to helping visualize the general design of the sleigh, I asked Mad-dog to come up with a rat-fink stylized version we could use on gifts, fund-raising, etc.

His first draft looked like this:

Angrysanta

While obviously hilarious, I asked him to make it a tad less angry and add some women…

Merry Marauders

I think I liked my girlfriend’s opinion of this best: “I’m not sure how much fund-raising that’s going to generate, but it definitely captures you and Mad-dog” – which I suppose is the most we could hope for.

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2

Mar

After we decided on the Rocket Sleigh theme, we started looking for inspirational designs. Since I draw like a 5 year old, I recruited master artist and trouble maker Mad dog to help out. For starters I fed him the below images.

stock-photo-4759850-santa-sleigh sleigh Santa__s_Super_Sleigh_by_Hunterb8 legosleigh-sg  sleigh 37 500x_santa_sleigh

The first draft looked like this:

car1st

The base vehicle is only 10ft long, so we trimmed some of the ornamental flash. We added the side wings to emphasize the rocket look, and added more lights everywhere. The rocket pods on the wings double as speakers for the sound system. The rear of the sleigh has a raised seating area with storage underneath (for gifts). We also moved the rear entrance to the driver’s side, so he’d have better control over people getting on/off. The second draft looks like this:

Marauder20

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15

Feb

After considering chopping down postal delivery vans, pickup trucks, and (very briefly) my own car, we decided to save a little time and money and start with a vehicle that was already pretty stripped down and reliable: A 2000 Cushman Titan utility vehicle. This particular one used to tow luggage around Dulles airport before Independence Air went bankrupt. The base is a good medium size (about 10’x4’) — we wanted something that would be able to carry 6-9 people (you know – like a sleigh). Also, it already looks kind of sleigh-ish.

It is powered by a low-speed/high-torque 48v electric motor. Going electric was a tough decision. There are a lot of trade-offs and challenges, but we think they will pay off. Being able to run silent goes well with the winter santa theme, and we thought Burning Man didn’t really need another noisy engine running around.

Base

 

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9

Feb

Everyone loves Santa. Everyone loves getting gifts. Actually, I’m kind of surprised that in 15 years of going to Burning Man I’ve never seen a Santa’s sleigh before. It’s such an ideal base for interactive mischief and gifting. The Santa theme lends itself easily to demonstrations of Burning Man’s traditions of gifting, immediacy, and radical self expression (among others).

The crew building this mutant vehicle has been running Santarchy in Washington DC since 2001, so it was a pretty easy choice, based on our experience spreading holiday cheer. Also, considering we have to drag this thing all the way across the country, something sleigh-sized makes a lot of sense logistically.

Santarchy-Tattoo

Planned Marauder gifts include: ice delivery rides from Anarctica outposts, deep playa art tours, ice cold towels, Santa hats, LEDs for darkwads, as well as general community services such as shuttling wedding parties to the Temple, etc. Anyone riding the car will be encouraged to wear a Santa hat, of course.

The Merry Marauder also pays homage to what is widely credited as Burningman’s very first theme camp: “Xmas Camp” in 1993 by Cacophonists Peter Doty, Lisa Archer, and Amanda Marshal .
image
(photo by LadyBee)

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1

Feb

Why build an art car? They are very expensive. It’s a ton of work to modify it into something beautiful. Where to store it when you’re not using it? How to get it from the east coast to Nevada? Should we leave it out there, or bring it back? Are we really going to spend several thousand dollars on something that we’ll probably only use a week or two out of the year, and might break the first day?

I weighed these questions for quite a while. I finally arrived at the answer that there is no good answer. It’s art. We do it for it’s own sake – because it’s fun. Personally, the main reason I’m doing it is because I’m excited about it. It’s something I’ve never done before – a whole new set of challenges to overcome and problems to solve – a whole new bunch of creative ways to interact with my community. I’ve been going to Burning Man nonstop since 1998. I’ve done esplanade theme camps, corner sound camps, funded art grants, greeted, rangered, and just about every other form of participation you can think of. I’ve never built a mutant vehicle and dragged it across the country. It should be a blast!

spend

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christmas carol