Sea Urchin

Sea Urchin

Sea Urchin

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2019 Updates

Interactive Control System

People love technology and they love being able to control are projects. We’re giving them the ability to do just that. The interactive component of the project will be operated from an iPad control booth which we tested at burning man this year. You can see the test we performed with people operating and interacting with the iPad in the video further down below.

The control booth will be about 50 ft from the project so that the controller can observe the effects the he/she is manipulating. They will ONLY be able to affect color, speed and sound intensity. (without being able to turn off the project) Yes, they will be able to see their voice animated.

We’re working with a program called LED Labs. Since we toured the project last year, we were able to see what worked with the interactivity and what didn’t. We found that giving people FULL control wan’t a good idea. They inadvertently turned off the project several times. They would then panic and walk away without trying to figure out how to turn the project back on. So we’re going to limit what they can control but only to the affect that they won’t be able to accidentally turn off the project or do something that’s not reversible. So alternatively, we’re working with some custom built firmware and controllers.

Technical Explanation:
In the included videos above you will see that we made a model Sea Urchin. This allows us to test different controllers, circuits, code, and effects without having to construct the full sized Sea Urchin. Please note that the model Sea Urchin in the video has less “spines” and “legs” that are actually on the project. This is just for testing purposes.

We have a variety of controllers for the Sea Urchin, including commercial products designed by fellow Burners (L.E.D. Labs). In the videos of the model Sea Urchin, the effects are being driven by a 32 bit microcontroller with custom circuitry and custom firmware. By writing our own firmware for the microcontroller, we can take advantage of the Urchin’s unique 3D layout and symmetry, as well as interface with all kinds of external hardware.

We are currently testing the use of Passive Infrared (PIR) sensors between each of the 8 legs of the Sea Urchin. When a participant approaches the Sea Urchin, the spines adjacent to the participant will light a different color, and the color effect would then spread to the rest of the Urchin.

In past projects we have successfully utilized an iPad program TouchOSC, that allows us to make custom button/slider layouts to signal changes to the microcontroller, such as changing color pallets, changing modes, etc. We may utilize this to give participants additional tools to manipulate the Sea Urchin alongside the touch control model.

Here’s how it looked at Burning Man 2015

Acrylic Tubes

We received some new acrylic tube samples and they are STRONG. They barely bent with my full weight on them while the tube at a 45 degree angle against a table.


The 80 “Spines” of the sea urchin will be made of aluminum tubing and acrylic tubes with programable LEDs running through the center. The spines are then attached to the legs with a thick metal bracket to support weight and prevent the spines from breaking. The spines are clear naturally, but I will coat them with a resin and paint mixture which makes the spines glow evenly and give character to the Urchin.

Check out the end result after painting them and putting the LED’s through them.


2015 – A Learning Experience

Despite some technical difficulties we are pretty proud of our debut with this project. We also had a couple of minor theft issues, but we had a great time at Lightning in a Bottle this year. As always, THANK YOU LIB!

Posted by Liquid PXL on Thursday, June 4, 2015

Project Description

The Sea Urchin is a 18 ft tall and 36ft wide kinetic sculpture made to look like a sea urchin. The project is composed entirely of wood and LED strips inside of aluminum and acrylic tubes (spines). The “skeleton” of the sea urchin is made of interconnected wooden pieces.

The “Legs” of the Sea Urchin have a beautifully designed laser cut pattern on them. They are held in the middle by a metal bracket. Coming down from the center of the Sea Urchin will be a “chandelier.” Each leg will also be equipped with seating to enjoy the project from the inside. (You can see the heart shaped seats in the picture below.)


The 80 “Spines” of the sea urchin will be made an aluminum and acrylic tubes with programable LEDs running through the center. The spines are then attached to the legs with a thick metal bracket to support weight and prevent the spines from breaking.

The project will be built for the intent of a permanent outdoor installation. We will treat all the wood and fabric for outdoor use and the lighting system and electronics will be waterproof.

We toured our previous projects to Lucidity, Lunacy, Lighting in a Bottle, LA Decom, SF Decom and Burning Man. We do have outlets to show the art piece and we’re hoping to tour this piece to all of the above and more someday. Each of these festivals are about 4 days long in duration. I have other local outlets that I have the ability to display the work at in addition to event spaces where I could possibly hold a long term exhibit once the project is complete.

Sea Urchin - diagram-3




cnc machine Programable LED lights Routing Painting an art project Sea Urchin - Lightning in a bottle Legs for sea urchin legs assembelled fabric dyeing

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