Funded! This project was successfully funded on August 3, 2013.

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An unique, interactive climbing experience with illuminated holds and an awesome roof deck. Top out and chill out!

We're climbers. We're engineers obsessed with colorful, shiny things. We're also silly enough to think to ourselves:  "What happens when you mix blinky lights with climbing?"

The result is FLASH.IT, an art project for Burning Man 2013.

FLASH.IT is an interactive climbing experience. Each climbing hold doubles as a full-color LED light. A central computer is able to dynamically change any hold's brightness and color based on custom software.

Composed of over 800 sq. ft. of climbing area at various angles and a 200 sq. ft. roofdeck lounge to hang out on after making it to the top, FLASH.IT will be a beacon of colorful light in the desert night.

Artsy shot.
Artsy shot.

UPDATE: New Reward: Party time!

We've added a new reward tier -- an invite to our post-burning man party featuring the climbing wall! Anyone who pledges for any reward tier higher than that will get an invite, too.

Why is this awesome?

First (and rather importantly), we're bringing a rather unique climbing wall to Burning Man! But that's just the beginning...

  • Look Ma, no tape! We can set climbing routes by simply coloring or flashing the holds. Want to change the route? Done!
  • Remember Twister? Imagine playing dynamic games such as "the holds are lava!", and avoid the holds that turn red while still staying on the wall. The possibilities are endless!
  • The holds can be used to make dynamic visual art, pulse along with music, or blink to send Morse Code messages to other camps.
  • Everyone who makes it to to the top can join in for a roofdeck dance party!

A simple programming interface and an ability to change software on the fly means that it's easy take an idea and turn it into reality in less time than it takes to sing "Blinded by the Light."  Our code & hardware is available on github for you to fork and contribute to.


What got this started?

We were brainstorming for this year's Burning Man art project -- a ragtag group of engineers and artists bundled up in an office with a whiteboard and loads of creative energy. Bright ideas flew back and forth, until someone stood up to announce their idea -- a climbing wall with light up holds.

The idea captured our imaginations. Everyone started throwing around concepts for using the wall, exploring implementation details, or discussing the finer points of aesthetics.

So we decided to make it happen.

About few members of the group, working on structural supports.
About few members of the group, working on structural supports.

We're The Arbitrarium -- a burning man camp of friends old a new. We have more than 50 members, focused mostly in the Bay Area and Boston. We spend the hours after work building cool projects, exploring the world around us, and -- of course -- climbing.

Where's the money going?

Everything you give will go towards making this structure an elaborate and engaging interactive experience! 

We need to pay for

  • transportation to and from the event (large truck rental, gas, etc): $2500
  • a place to build and store the pieces while we work on them: $1600
  • the hardware, wood, and other materials to build the wall: $2400
  • silicone to create lots of molds for the holds: $300
  • plastic and electronics for the holds: $400
  • Safety equipment (padding and/or bouldering pads): 900
  • Kickstarter fees: $900
  • We might also buy a single gallon of ice cream to celebrate when we're done: $2.50
  • Rewards: Varies based on outcome, but we're just funding them ourselves.

We're not trying to stealth launch a product, or fund a secret startup. All of the money we're asking for will go towards bringing the project to Burning Man and making it an awesome experience for everyone there. Anything above and beyond our goal will go towards adding more holds and creating an even more elaborate roof deck experience. (No matter what, though, we'll share the ice cream. We promise!)

Give us something nice to look at!

A photo of the wall we built for testing software (small enough to fit in our backyard).
A photo of the wall we built for testing software (small enough to fit in our backyard).
A closeup of one of the holds.
A closeup of one of the holds.
A CAD model of the wall, showing the internal structure (minus some cross braces).
A CAD model of the wall, showing the internal structure (minus some cross braces).

FLASH.IT

We ask that you help us by donating here, and in any way you can be involved.  All of our software libraries and hardware are available open source on github, and we'd love to run other people's software on the climbing wall.

Your contribution will help us shine on in the night.

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

There's always the risk that the structure will take longer to build than we expected. Luckily, we've designed our construction process so that we are effectively creating a stable wall at every step in the building process. If we end up being too slow, the wall will still be an entirely functional (albeit smaller) structure.

We've already designed, built, and tested lots of LED-embedded holds, but are just now beginning to produce them in a larger volume. We've already made our boards and bought our components, and now we just need to assemble and cast all the holds. There's no guarantee that the manufacturing process will scale as we expect, but current progress suggests that casting holds in parallel is easy to do with a small number of people.

On the software side, we've already written firmware to control the lights via DMX, and have an API that abstracts away the idea of panels and holds to make it easier to program the wall. This makes it easy for us to quickly iterate and improve the software that gives the wall its functionality.

The greatest challenges, though, are the ones that you don't expect.
We're ready for that. We have a team of engineers that are passionate about the project and about making the experience the best it can be. Our team has put many hundreds of man hours into designing, testing, breaking, and fixing everything about this project -- and we're not going to let anything stop us from bringing it to Black Rock City this year.

FAQ

  • Yes! After burning man, we'll be running the wall in San Francisco for the next few weekends in September.

    As of now we don't have anywhere with enough space to hold the entire wall structure (~30' x 19' x 12' tall with padding), so we'll be running a portion of the wall in the largest space we can find. If you have anywhere we could host the whole wall (or even somewhere large enough to hold most of it), we'd love to hear from you!

    You could also buy a panel, and own a portion of the wall yourself!

    Last updated:
  • In order to use the hold from the $60 reward, you need to do two things:
    -- Drill a small (0.15 inch) hole in your wall to run wires.
    -- Connect the wires to a microcontroller (e.g. Arduino).

    Basically any microcontroller will work. You could use an Arduino, a Maple, an AVR, a PIC, or anything else that can toggle a pin at ~800kHz.

    An Arduino library for controlling the code is available here: https://github.com/adafruit/Adafruit_NeoPixel
    Each hold has two independently controllable RGB LEDs arranged in a chain.

    Last updated:
  • Every reward above $20 includes a party invite! (I just can't change the reward description after someone has chosen it.)

    Last updated:
160
Backers
$9,235
pledged of $9,000 goal
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  • Pledge $10 or more
    You selected

    18 backers

    We'll send you an awesome sticker with the FLASH.IT logo on it, and seal the envelope with a hug.

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $20 or more
    You selected

    47 backers

    You'll get an invite to our exclusive post-burning-man party at the beginning of October in SF. The star of the show: our LED climbing wall! Have your first (or another) chance to live the experience.

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $25 or more
    You selected

    23 backers

    One of our dedicated climb-gen-eers will scream your name in elation as they finish a climbing route and fall back down to the pad, and then mail you a sticker. We'll send you the video for proof.

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $50 or more
    You selected

    8 backers

    We'll send you a laser-engraved FLASH.IT keychain and along with all of the above rewards, and seal the envelope with a kiss.

    Estimated delivery:
    Add $5 USD to ship outside the US
  • Pledge $60 or more
    You selected

    9 backers Limited (31 left of 40)

    Get a small piece of the wall! We'll send you one hold fresh off the wall from burning man. This WILL REQUIRE SOME WORK to use on your own climbing wall -- though we can help you out with that!

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships within the US only
  • Pledge $60 or more
    You selected

    5 backers All gone!

    Climber's special! Come hang out with us on the playa and set your own climbing routes. We'll stick a sticker on you, too, just for kicks. (includes all of the above rewards)

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $75 or more
    You selected

    3 backers

    We'll send you a sweet FLASH.IT logo t-shirt and gently caress the packaging closed. (includes all of the above rewards EXCEPT setting a route and a used climbing hold)

    Estimated delivery:
    Add $15 USD to ship outside the US
  • Pledge $100 or more
    You selected

    12 backers Limited (28 left of 40)

    We'll send you a brand-spanking-new LED climbing hold on a commemorative plaque. Great as a desk ornament, or take it off and mount it on a climbing wall! Fades between colors.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships within the US only
  • Pledge $250 or more
    You selected

    1 backer Limited (14 left of 15)

    One signet ring embossed with the FLASH.IT logo, and two sticks of sealing wax. Sign your routes the classy way. (sticker included)

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships within the US only
  • Pledge $500 or more
    You selected

    1 backer Limited (14 left of 15)

    Safety, Safety, Safety! When you buy this reward tier, you'll be sponsoring one large (4' x 5' x 5") bouldering pad with our logo & your name emblazoned on it for use on the playa. If you are at burning man or in the SF area, you can take it home with you!

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $1,000 or more
    You selected

    1 backer Limited (2 left of 3)

    For one easy payment of 999.999... you TOO could own your very own section of the brightest climbing wall in town! With not one, not two, but TWELVE feet of height and with included climbing holds and DMX-compatible RGB LED drivers, this deal won't last for long. Act now! Operators are standing by. Must be able to pick up from the San Francisco area. Size: two panels at (4'w x 1'd x 12' h) each.

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $5,000 or more
    You selected

    0 backers Limited (2 left of 2)

    Two members of the FLASH.IT team will fly out to the destination of your choice (within the continental US) for a weekend and help you out with anything climbing wall related -- talk to us and we can work something out!

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships within the US only
Funding period

- (30 days)