It’s been a busy month here at BPI, starting with the grand opening of the Water Cube downtown, followed by the smallest member of our team turning three! Her birthday presents included a puzzle featuring guys in hard hats (just like her dad!), a camera, and a tutu. Also a cake with math on it – she’s a well-rounded kid.
Immediately after the birthday festivities, Ben jumped into work on two different custom Horatio installations, which included finding and playing with some used metal halide lamps: he needed to figure out how to monitor the life span of similar lamps that will be integrated with one of the Horatios. Being the geek that he is, he was super excited to find that Carnegie Mellon’s facilities department had boxes of old lamps lying around for the taking… (For scale reference, each of those lamps is about 9 inches long.)
To round out the last week, Ben also did a pre-inspection for a school district that he’ll be doing rigging inspections for soon. Summer is the season for inspections, since so many theaters are dark!
John Rohe from the Colcom Foundation, who sponsored the Cube, speaks at the opening.
Kevin McMahon, President of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, speaks at the Cube opening.
Box full of used lamps as big as your arm. A mad scientist’s dream!
Lamps lined up in the shop to be tested.
Inspecting a rigging system at a local high school.
The junior team member’s birthday cake.
Ben had a crazy schedule last week, working on at least 3 different projects every day and taking him everywhere from 2 different construction sites to the Water Cube downtown, The Beauty Shoppe in East Liberty, and at least three different coffee shops.
He installed a DIN rail Horatio in a newly-built office building (surface-mounted inside the rack, since there was no more space for a rack-mount version), cleaned up some programming for the Water Cube’s grand opening next Thursday, had great meetings with a bunch of interesting people doing interesting things (more on that later), and attended an Internet of Things panel hosted by Fygment, a great local organization that’s bringing together entrepreneurs of all kinds in Pittsburgh.
Upon returning to the shop at the end of a long day, he also discovered that someone had logged into the Horatio demo site and played with the lights while he was away. (Hello, whoever you are, and thanks for the blue disco lighting!)
DIN rail Horatio mounted inside the rack
Close-up of the DIN rail Horatio
An anomaly in the Water Cube usage data. Based on a Facebook comment, turned out to be kids spraying each other with the fountains!
Blue disco lighting in the shop, thanks to a Horatio demo user!
The shop is clean! Mostly. Enough that we could have a fun party, meet some great local artists, and chat with them about their current and future projects. Thanks to everyone who came out, and to the Office of Public Art for hosting! We’re hoping to make this a regular (maybe monthly?) thing, so more news on that soon!
Ben’s also been hard at work this week continuing work on Horatio development – and he even found some time to fix his 30-year-old backhoe, which made the littlest member of our team very very happy.
The shop hasn’t been this clean in years. We need to have parties more often.
The shop, all clean and ready for a party!
We rigged up a few interesting lighting effects to show off some of our recent work.
Goodies for the party guests: flyers, business cards, and candy!
Repairing Ben’s treasured backhoe for use by our junior team member.
Not a lot of photos this week, but it’s been busy nonetheless! Ben finished up work on the Water Cube, which soft opened at the EQT Children’s Theatre Festival downtown on Thursday. In addition to installing a custom Horatio with more than 30 sensors to monitor the water and lighting systems, he also ended up designing a custom lighting controller and helping to troubleshoot some lighting problems. The end result is a pretty great installation – great art, great lighting, and still and sparkling water on tap!
We also spent some time this week getting the shop ready for a party! The Pittsburgh Office of Public Art is hosting an event for local artists as part of their Public Art 201 series, and we’re excited to meet some more Pittsburgh artists and chat with them about what we do.
And as always, Ben continues work on Horatio development – the outdoor beta unit spent some more time on the roof this week, and it held up great in those crazy windstorms. We’re hoping to get the chance to beta test it around the city this summer with the PGH Lab project – our application is in, and our fingers are crossed! We’ve had such great experiences working with the city on various projects over the last few years, we’d love to have them give Horatio a spin!
The Water Cube at night
Drinking fountains on one face of the Water Cube
Horatio Bridge Device with sensors connected
Real-time data on the Cube’s water usage
The littlest member of our team is hard at work getting ready for the party
Ben spent most of this week working on a custom Horatio installation for a public art project downtown. When the installation opens tomorrow, we’ll be monitoring everything about it, from lighting to water to CO2, via 30 different sensors connected to a custom-built Horatio. We can’t say much about it right now, but check out the photos below, and stop by the parklet at Penn & 8th downtown after tomorrow to see it for yourself – it’s going to be great!
Ben also found time this week to do a little more testing on the outdoor Horatio, stop by a local Horatio installation in progress, and head down to Market Square to assist with Mix N’ Match strike. It was a busy week!
Swapping out the CO2 regulator for a digital sensor to monitor flow and consumption.
Left NPT to Right NPT nipple, plus a female to female (right hand) NPT coupler, to make the CO2 sensor fit.
Sensor in place, monitoring the CO2 tank.
Wiring up some sensors to monitor the art installation.
Horatio, mid-installation. Not the recommended mounting orientation.
Beta unit of the outdoor Horatio, mounted on the roof of the shop to see how it holds up out in the elements.
LED tape pulled up during Mix N’ Match strike.
Theatrical rigging can be found in nearly every theater, from small systems supporting drapery tracks in cafeteria auditoriums to counterweight systems suspending hundreds of pounds of equipment in high school, college and professional theaters.
The general industry recommendation is to have your rigging system inspected annually by a qualified inspector – someone who is familiar with the full gamut of rigging systems and can evaluate whether or not a particular system or component is safe.
Ben has been working with, designing, and inspecting rigging systems for over 15 years and is familiar with the most recent developments in the industry. Through our sister company, Pittsburgh Hoist & Sandbag, we offer annual rigging inspections at competitive rates, and since Pittsburgh Hoist and BPI do not offer repair services, you can be assured that Ben’s reports are unbiased: we offer inspections for the sake of making your systems safer, not to find more work for ourselves. If your system is in need of repair, we can also recommend several rigging contractors throughout the region who can offer competitive bids based on his inspection report, allowing you to get the best price available for the necessary repairs.
Pittsburgh Hoist’s inspections start with a pre-inspection visit to ensure that safe access is available to every part of your rigging system. Call or e-mail to set up your pre-inspection today, on USITT’s Day of Rigging Safety, and we’ll give you a $500 discount on your inspection and report!
Image via USITT
Ben’s been working on all sorts of things this week, including customizing a Horatio for a new art installation in the Cultural District, finishing up that DMX-to-IR converter, and updating the touch-sensitive basketball backboard we built with John Murray Productions for Chevron STEAM Zone’s Vertical Leap exhibit a few years ago. He’s also testing out a new outdoor version of Horatio – by hanging it out the window at the shop. Life is never boring here at BPI!
Another of Ben’s offices this week: a new interactive art installation opening Downtown in 2 weeks!
Testing out the DMX-to-IR converter board before installing it in its case.
The DMX-to-IR converter is almost done!
Updating the touch sensors from the Chevron STEAM Zone Vertical Leap exhibit.
Hanging a new outdoor version of Horatio out the window to test its resilience.