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The Turbinophone is a jet engine transformed into an interactive musical instrument that will be installed at Burning Man 2013.
The Turbinophone is a jet engine transformed into an interactive musical instrument that will be installed at Burning Man 2013.
177 backers pledged $8,300 to help bring this project to life.

About

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$8,300

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Imagine that you are on an adventure in the desert, when all of a sudden you come upon an old jet engine, a rusting hulk standing proudly in the vast openness.  You look around and see that there are some metal ball bearings laying in a tray at the base of the engine, and decide to pick them up.  You then climb up a set of small stairs to get a better look at the inside of this engine.  As you are looking into the engine, you drop a ball bearing into the engine, and you hear this:

How does it work?

The Turbinophone is comprised of the compressor section of a General Electric J79/LM1500 Turbojet Engine, which has been generously given by AgentJayZ, an accomplished turbine mechanic.  

You can play the Turbinophone by dropping ball bearings into the top of the engine, and as they fall through the engine, they strike each set of blades, which makes them ring at their resonant frequencies. Because each blade has a different length, the sound of each blade will be different.

The Turbinophone will be mounted on a stand which keeps it safely secured to the desert floor, and will allow for the mounting of a recovery system which keeps all of the metal bits contained within the art piece.  There will be a staircase so that all of us can climb up and drop ball bearings into the engine. 

This project is perfect for this year's art theme, Cargo Cult.  It is a blending of science and art, a repurposing of military technology into a musical experience. The Turbinophone will enchant your senses, inviting you to entertain new understandings about the meaning of why we build machines like this.  Playing the Turbinophone will allow you to play music in the most unexpected manner, enriching your knowledge of musical expression.

I am EXCITED about making this happen!  I am a huge aviation nerd and a musician.  I have been playing music for over 12 years, and find great fulfillment in giving others the experience of playing music.  I am passionate about sharing my knowledge of aviation with others, and with this project, I get to do both at the same time!  

I became inspired to create this art piece while I was watching AgentJayZ's YouTube channel. AgentJayZ is a turbine mechanic in British Columbia who passionately shows his viewers how turbine engines are maintained and tested, and it was this exact video which inspired me: http://youtu.be/4wKPTWXD2Z0

When I heard this, I felt a calling in my heart to bring this experience to more people - so I sent AgentJayZ a message, talking about my idea, and where to get an old jet engine like in the video, and he surprised me by saying that I could take the exact engine in the video as long as I could pay for the shipping.  I realized that this could be a reality, and that I would need to raise outside funding in order to make this project happen.

I have gone to Burning Man for the past 3 years. Every year, I have built my own living structures, as well as helped build large shade structures for a theme camp, Devachan Lounge.  These experiences have given me valuable knowledge about how to successfully execute build a project of this scale at Burning Man this year.

Project Timeline

Here is the planned schedule (these are absolute latest dates - most of these dates will be met early): 

  • May 4: Initiate shipment of engine
  • May 25-June 16th: Receive engine 
  • June 16th: Build Process begins 
  • August 16th: Build Process completes 
  • August 19th: Depart for Black Rock City from San Francisco 
  • August 20th: Arrive at Black Rock City for setup
  • August 23rd: Burning Man starts

Budget

The money being raised from this kickstarter is going towards the following:

  • Shipping the engine from Canada to San Francisco: $3500
  • Renting a workshop with a crane, equipment, and tools: $1500
  • Purchasing project materials, such as steel tube, sheet metal, stair components, lighting components and kickstarter rewards: $1000
  • Shipping the Turbinophone to and from Burning Man: $2000

The project is being fully funded through Kickstarter, and is done on a completely volunteer basis.

By contributing to this project, you are supporting learning in the fields of aviation and music.

I need your help to make this project a reality!  You can help in 3 easy steps:

1. Click the like button at the top of this page to share this project on Facebook.

2. Click the tweet button on the top of this page to share this with your followers.

3. Support the project!

Rewards

Here are photos of some of the rewards being offered for backing this project!

Anodized Aluminum Laser-Engraved Dog Tags

Laser Engraved Wooden Beverage Coasters

General Electric J79 Compressor Blades

Risks and challenges

The biggest risk this project has (like many other Burning Man art projects) is the inability to complete the project due to poor time management. For that reason, I have factored 1 extra month into the planned build time (the build will only take 1 month).

In addition to this, there is the possibility that the engine shipping is delayed due to the shipping company not being timely, or to border restrictions in Canada. I will compensate for shipping delays by initiating shipping at latest by the end of the kickstarter campaign, and factoring 2 extra weeks for delivery. The engine will be classified as scrap, which will lower the probability of Canadian customs holding it up for processing.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    Jet fuel: Thank you for your support! As a token of gratitude, I'll send out a thank you tweet with your name on it!

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    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    Pulsejet: Thank you for your support! You have my gratitude! As a reward, I will mention you in a thank you tweet, and list your name on the website.

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    17 backers
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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    Ramjet: Incredible! Thank you! To show my gratitude, I will mention you in a thank you tweet, list your name on the website, and give you a link to download photos and audio recordings from the Turbinophone.

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    42 backers
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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    Turboshaft: You clearly love the idea of this project! I am honored to have your support! As a reward, I will provide everything above, plus a link to download high quality, royalty free, creative commons licensed audio recordings suitable for use in your creative projects.

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    30 backers
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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $30 or more About $30

    Motorjet (early delivery): You must want this project to take off! To say thanks, I will reward you with everything listed above, plus an anodized aluminum dog tag laser-engraved with the Turbinophone logo which you can wear to support the project!

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    6 backers
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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Turboprop: You are generously giving us the push needed to make this project happen! To show my thanks, I will reward you with everything listed above, plus an official Turbinophone embroidered patch.

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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    Turbojet: You want to ignite this project! I am awed by your passion and your generosity! As a reward, I will give you everything mentioned above, plus 3 metal balls used by participants to make this instrument sing at Burning Man!

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    Limited 2 backers
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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Afterburning Turbojet: You are pouring fuel into this project, giving an incredible boost of power to make this happen! I am so thankful for your generosity. For that, I will reward you with everything listed above, plus a wooden beverage coaster laser-engraved with the Turbinophone logo!

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  9. Select this reward

    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    Propfan: For your generosity, you can come play the Turbinophone in San Francisco! You will receive an invitation to a 1 hour studio session with Kunal Dovedy in San Francisco, where you can record yourself playing the Turbinophone. All recording equipment will be provided. After the session, you will be given all of the rewards listed above, plus a high quality audio file of the recording. (Travel and hotel costs to/from San Francisco not included in this reward)

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  10. Select this reward

    Pledge $400 or more About $400

    Turbofan: You have clearly given this project wings! For that, I will give you an airfoil of your own! Your reward consists of everything above, plus a real blade from the compressor section of a GE J79 Turbojet Engine (the same engine used in this project)!

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    Limited 0 backers
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  11. Select this reward

    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    Scramjet: You are the power beneath our wings, pushing us to wild blue yonder! I will give you everything from rewards 1-5, plus a large compressor blade from a GE J79 Turbojet engine, along with an official Turbinophone flight suit embroidered with our logo!

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    Pledge $8,000 or more About $8,000

    Interstellar Warp Drive: You have singularly made this project a reality! For that, you get the whole Turbinophone! I will bend time and space to install the Turbinophone in a location of your choice. You will also get a custom flight suit with your name embroidered on it. (Buyer pays for shipping and travel expenses if installation location is outside of the San Francisco bay area)

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Funding period

- (14 days)