The History of the Tripods.

To buy a Tripod please go to the Store Page.

This is a simple project that ended up building a Pirate Ship.

The first Tripod was made late night April 4th 2009. My friend Dex and I were messing around in the shop at what started out as a small 3 legged table. The legs looked too organic to turn them into a table. We put a 6" sphere made of polished nickel on of the legs. The sphere had a 3" hole in it that a acrylic lens fit. The lens was left over from when I made the BackSpace tables. Into the sphere we put a battery and a few U.V. and Blue LEDs. The First Tripod was born.


The first Tripod was popular amongst friends. He attended several social events, but one day he decided to jump out the back of my truck while driving down Alberta Street. Alberta Street is known as an incredible art district and I am sure he found a good home.

Burning Man was coming up and I had felt bad for not bringing a project the year before. I thought gifting Tripods would be awesome. I started making Tripods out of salvaged material. I had a lot of 1/4" pin rod and 2.5" steel tubing. The material had light rust on it which is why it was given to me.

I invited my friends to help make the Tripods. My shop turned into a production facility. People I knew well and people I had just met came over to help. We would make 140 Tripods to be given as gifts for the Burning Man Art festival 2009.

These first Tripods would be known as "Whishing Tripods". They were powered by a "LED throwie". They used two 2032 coin cell batteries, two LEDs and a magnet to hold them in place. We called them Wishing Tripods because if you made a wish on the Tripodís light your wish would come true after that battery burned out. I believe this works on a subconscious level and I was very happy to have people tell me their wish did come true.

A large number of the Wishing Tripods would be gifts to people I knew, people that helped me and the friends of people that helped me, but many of them would be left in a random place for a random stranger to find. The Tripods included a note and care instructions for whom ever were to find them. I made a point of not seeing the random stranger that found one. Somehow the randomness appealed to me and knowing would have taken that away from me.

After Burning Man it was time to get back to work on the Pirate Ship. The front wheel was finished but the rest of the ship still needed to be built. We would need to do a lot of fund raising to finish the ship.



I was hoping to be able to add some interactivity to the Tripods. I had taken a class building and programming an Arduino clone called a dork board.but this was going to be a long process. I was lucky that one of the volunteers, Jesse Banks was an electrical engineer and he came up with a better solution. Jesse had already modified his Tripod, replacing the LEDs, battery and designing some custom circuitry to give his Tripod some unique features.

Jesses volunteered to design a new board that would be cheap to fabricate and allow lots of interactivity with the Tripods. After a week we were ready to order parts. The new Tripods would be named by my friend Keri Chang who called them "Tripod Sentinels".





Not only did the new Tripods have advance circuitry but they were painted or clear-coated, they had better fitted lenses and back covers. The overall production quality went up dramatically.

The core group of the Pirate ship came together and we would sale the Sentinels to raise money to build the Pirate Ship. These new Tripods would be signed and numbered.

On June 7th 2010 we were featured on BoingBoing.net. The sales of the Tripods really took off. We ended up selling over a hundred Tripods in three days. This was largely due to an excellent promotional video gifted to us by Christopher Darrow.



A few Tripods worth mentioning:

#14, Animal Chin, went missing while attending the Portland Burning Man Decompression Party. He would be found two days later in the bushes. While he was missing I made a missing poster in the likeness of the 1987 movie "The Search for Animal Chin". Ironically a week later the same Tripod would be stolen at HOWL a Portland Halloween party. The Tripod was attached to the wall with 100 pound test fishing line. The line was broken and the Tripod to this day is still missing. Since that time we have made silk screen patches of the missing poster.

#13, Bucket, had his legs welded on with a bucket over my head. I had made a ridicules statement that to make a truly random Tripod I would have to weld it blindfolded. This then led to me with a bucket on my head to weld "a truly random Tripod". Bucket now lives happily in my room.



Threshold Tripod, is a larger Tripod that was made as a donation to Camp of the Rising Sun as part of their auction to support their camp.

Three large Tripods were made as part of a New Years display. Currently one belongs to Dex, one to Jesse and I own one. If you would like to purchase mine it is for sale.

Two 4" Tripods were made and given as wedding gifts.

After the Pirate Shipís first trip to Burning Man the crew and I wanted to add Fire effects to the ship. More Tripods have been made to support the improvements to the ship and cover transportation cost. Jesse wanted to focus on his business, which left us with a need for a new circuit board. We had a lot of volunteers but it was Raphael Abrams, one of the founders of the Hacker Group NYC Resistor that would design the new boards. The new boards are open source and available for anyone to customize for their own needs.



This is where this history ends for now. As I write this 90 Tripods are waiting to be sold and I know there will be other chapters to the Tripodís history.

Captain Andy 3/2/11

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