Category: Artworks

Rejection! Burning Man DMV Rejects Most Useless II

Sadly, the Burning Man DMV department has decided that Most Useless II doesn’t meet their minimums. Here’s the rejection letter:

Mutant Vehicle: Most Useless, II
Registration #: M20-0254
Owner: Peter Kropf

Dear Peter Kropf,

The DMV has carefully reviewed your application for your Mutant Vehicle project Most
Useless,II (M20-0254) and we’re very sorry to inform you that your vehicle was not 
accepted for invitation to Burning Man this year.

Please read this letter carefully for more information about the decision regarding 
your vehicle.

The DMV Review Team felt that:



Unfortunately, your vehicle as presented in your application does not meet the 
minimum criteria for a mutant vehicle license:

* * * *
"Level of Mutation / Visual Presentation

Mutate your vehicle to the point that it is not recognizable as a street or stock 
vehicle. A radically mutated vehicle will not resemble or represent a car, truck, golf
cart or any other readily identifiable street or stock vehicle. In most cases, little or
none of the base vehicle should be visible. Beyond just changing, covering or hiding
the base vehicle, the mutation should aim to be visually compelling, providing
“wow factor” for the other participants of Black Rock City. When a person sees this
vehicle, their reaction should be “Wow! Look at that!” If a vehicle maintains it’s 
stock form (i.e. – it keeps the shape of a bus, golf cart or street vehicle) it may not
be sufficiently mutated to meet the Mutant Vehicle Criteria."
* * * *

The DMV Review team felt that while your vehicle has custom attributes, and we
appreciate teh "Most Useless" concept, overall the design does not fundamentally
change the vehicle's visuals from the base Taylor-Dunn.

We should be clear that the team overall enjoyed your vehicle, but in the interest
of fairness, we could not invite as the base is too much the same as the stock 
vehicle it is based upon.


Due to the high number of applications and the limited number of vehicles we can
invite, we simply can't invite all applicants, even when they meet the minimum 
requirements.  We don't want anyone to have the sad experience of bringing a
vehicle out to the playa and having it denied a license after all that work!  We
do our best to give invitations to those most likely to get approved on playa.

We very much understand that you have committed significant time and resources
to creating your mutant vehicle (many of us are mutant vehicle creators ourselves,
so we know what it takes) and that this is hard news to receive.  The level of 
execution of mutant vehicles submitted by the Burning Man community for review
increases from year to year, and unfortunately, there is a limit to how many 
moving vehicles we can allow during the event. Your vehicle simply did not exceed
the very high bar that has been set by your fellow Mutant Vehicle creators this year.

Once again, we realize that this is not the news you likely wanted to hear, but we
do want to thank you for the effort you made and look forward to seeing you on the

If you have questions or wish to discuss this issue further, we can be reached at
- The DMV Hotties and the Burning Man staff and community.

Burning Man DMV Application

The application for Most Useless II has been submitted.

Fingers crossed.

Most Useless II

The first time I went to Burning Man, I built an art car based on the idea of the most useless machine. It was an amazing experience working with friends to bring it into being and cruising around the playa with it. Unfortunately, there were issues with the design of the internal mechanisms that worked less well than expected. I’m planning finally going to remedy that this year.

I’d like to introduce Most Useless II!

There’s a level switch in the back that when pushed forward causes a trap door to open, a hand come out to push the switch back and the hand retreats back into the trap door again.

Since this is for Burning Man and I want to be able to drive around at night, there will be led lights flooring the ground from under the vehicle, from around the outside of the frame and from the canopy.

Most Useless II will be built on a Taylor Dunn B2-10 electric hauler.

This was last used for K9 Mark IV-BM.

K9 Mark IV-BM (2015)

I’m currently in the design / idea phase. The next step is to get an application into the Burning Man DMV to see if it’ll get an invitation to attend this year. Here’s hoping!

Black Rock City Wifi Summit 2018

The Black Rock City Wifi Summit 2018 took place last Wednesday. As with previous summits that I’ve attended, it was an interesting discussion with a Burning Man tech staff, artists, and various theme camp representatives. The venue was the Thunderdome conference room at the Burning Man Headquarters.

Rolf (sp?) with the org lead a general presentation on the goals, issues and plans for this coming year. In general, he’s asking for frequency coordination to help facilitate access by everyone, to lower noise and such.

The past two years has had troubles with connectivity. For the most part, things just didn’t work. Connecting a NanoBeam to the sector antennas on the NOC tower didn’t work. The ISP had major routing issues and they were late in bringing the backbone online.

The plan for this year is to provide configuration files before heading out to the playa. These are designed to configure a NanoBeam NBE-5AC-GEN2. Other Ubiquiti gear may work but they’re testing and providing configuration for the NanoBeam.

The link between a NanoBeam and the NOC tower gear is on the 5Ghz band. The org is requesting that city participants stay off the 5Ghz band to help facilitate infrastructure connections. Local wifi in camps, art installations, mutant vehicles, etc. should be on the 2.4Ghz band. If the access point provides both 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz access, the org requests that the 5Ghz band be disabled. Doing so will help to keep the noise floor lower on that band.

If you already have a project in the works that is using 5Ghz for communications, don’t fret too much. The org will not be using the upper most channel on the 5Ghz band. That’s 5.825Ghz with a 20Mhz bandwidth. It should be easy enough to configure any radio gear already in use to use that channel. Hopefully there won’t be too much interference with other users on the band.

The plan is for the backbone to be live by 8/20. It consists of (2) 130Mbps connections to the ISP. For folks arriving on playa before gate opens, net access has the potential of helping communications greatly. For a city with a population north of 70,000, it’s going to be interesting to see how the available bandwidth holds up. I can easily see throttling of non-org access occurring as the week progresses. That said, I’m glad that the Burning Man org is working to share the resources they have with the city at large.

There was a short discussion on power. The gist is that the Ubiquiti radios want a stable 24v power source. Grounding the radios is also a good thing. That means driving a copper round bar into the playa 2′ – 3′. And use a surge suppressor. There is lightning and static on the playa that can quickly turn the gear into used carbon.

There was also a mention that microwave based communication equipment doesn’t like to sway. So using a pole that’s too high and moves in the wind will cause connectivity issues with the NOC tower.

If you’re planning to attempt local wifi via the org’s backbone, here’s the hardware you’ll most likely need. At least this is the gear I’m planning to bring on playa:

  • Ubiquiti Network NanoBeam NBE-5AC-GEN2
  • Ubiquiti Network Unifi AP AC Lite
  • network switch
  • 24v dc-dc converter
  • some power source, most likely 2 solar panels and 2 12V deep cycle batteries
  • surge protector for use between the NanoBeam and the switch
  • grounding rod
  • mast / tower along with equipment to secure it

It sounds like the org will be using Ubiquiti Network Rocket Prism AC radios behind their sector antennas. I’m not sure if I can gain access to one before heading out to the playa but it would be nice to test the gear and configuration before heading to the dust.

The org asked for the community to help each other out during the week with doctors hours. Basically we define a schedule and recruit volunteers who are willing to be a network doctor. When someone on playa has an issue, they can come to one of these doctors for help. There was also a mention that doctors may also want to be on a particular MURS radio channel during their office hours. I’m intrigued by this idea and intend to host some time at my camp.

There was also a discussion on the use of APRS for tracking mutant vehicle telemetry data. Someone mentioned putting together an on-playa web service that provides a map of the city along with locations of mutant vehicles or anything else using APRS. Unfortunately I didn’t catch the person to talk more before the summit ended but I really like the idea.

As with many summits like this, my to-do / wish list has just expanded:

  • create a local status dashboard for the network connection
    • raspberry pi based
    • ping to local nanobeam
    • ping to tower antenna
    • ping to google
    • current bandwidth in use through local radio
    • local radio ip address
  • bring some fox hunting gear for 2.4Ghz and 5ghz
  • set up a server with ubiquiti’s access point management system (unifi controller?)
  • configure for a captive portal w/ timeout
  • allow other access points to be adopted and push a stable, usable configuration to them
  • host network doctor’s hours
  • test the configuration on litebeams (LBE‑5AC‑Gen2) as I have a couple left over from another project
  • find my murs radios and verify that they still work
  • find a good dc-dc power filter

Good luck and come visit me at Frozen Oasis, we have killer margaritas!

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Gravity Cars – Crucible Style

After three very successful weeks of Gravity Cars at the Crucible, it was time to invite the staff and faculty to build cars and race them.

Of course, we captured some video of the festivities!

Metal Titans



Camera Car Test Run

Max Skidding

More Flames

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