RoboShaw 2007 plans [updated 2/25/2007]

Artistic/visual

This area seems reasonably well under control; RoboShaw's "Max Max" appearance and attitude seem to work pretty well out on the playa.  I'd still like to add some ability for the driver to "speak" for RoboShaw w/ a microphone and speaker rig, but that'll probably need to wait for another year.  Adapting RoboShaw completely to each year's theme is probably more work than I can manage; I'll look for smaller customizations.  For example, while I may be able to get RoboShaw's head to fit into the Green Man theme, larger scale changes such as electric drive aren't really feasible given timelines this year.

What RoboShaw lacks at night is some fire effects.  I think having RoboShaw spit flames will add some drama as we motor across the playa The fire effects should consist of a mast over the engine or perhaps from the very front of the foward frame.  I'll use a pretty standard rig - propane tank filling an accumulator (another propane tank w/ the valve removed), and a couple of high-pressure solenoids that will trigger bursts of flame.  I'll plumb a separate line to provide pilot flames for the exhaust stacks.
I'm considering synchronizing the flame to the sound from the amp.... we'll have to test out that idea. 

All the propane & lines will be well away from passengers so we avoid flame hazards; I'll have to see how low the pilots can be so we don't burn too much gas.  I'd like to use electric ignition for the pilots so I can turn them off when we're not using the flame immediately.

I'm going to rig some LED Christmas lights along the frame; last year a reveler tripped over the front of RoboShaw.  I need to consider how these should be attached; it already takes several hours to unpack and setup RoboShaw and adding more fiddling w/ tie-wraps to hold on lights will just make that worse.

After seeing some of the cool bicycle lighting supplies from Rock The Bike and the way that they mounted their CCFL tubes at the 2007 Maker Faire, it occured to me that I could "ruggize" the cheap PC ones I'd been using  on RoboShaw w/o spending the
$$$ that the pretty tubes from Rock The Bike cost.  The PC CCFL tubes (I got mine from svg.com for $6 for 2 12" tubes + inverter)
will break if subjected to a lot of vibration; the glass tube that contains the gas vibrates around inside the protective acrylic tube
and eventually breaks.  I simply used an old .22 cal shell casing heated up w/ a propane torch and carefully melted holes at the end and 1/3 and 2/3 of the way along the tube.  Much care should be taken not to touch the glass tube w/ the shell casing.  I then
squirted clear silicone rubber into each hole to form a plug that holds the glass tube in place.  We'll see how it works; even before the silicone set it eliminated all the rattles from the tube.

Mechanical/functional punch list