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the

LepiDodgera

The 55-Foot Wingspan
Kinetic Steel Butterfly
with Hydraulic Wings and Interactive Fire and Light...
cruises Burning Man above her Dodge Van Chrysalis.

Lep For Sale!

Art Car

or

Installation

This is a rare opportunity to own one of the largest *kinetic* mutant vehicles to have graced the playa — a feat of engineering, her moving wings achieve a delicate beauty for her sheer massive size — flame effects and color changing wings dazzle and delight.

 

Whether as a playa art car or an installation in a fixed location, we offer the Lepidodgera up for her next adventure.

She inspires whimsy and joy wherever she's discovered.  Start imagining.

This unique bird (well, butterfly) is looking for responsible new parents who will utilize her flame effects and changing dimensions wisely.

 

Contact us directly with your questions, ideas, and to discuss details and price.

For Sale

Photo Courtesy of Dmilo

True to the Lep Symbolizing Metamorphosis, 

She's had 3 Incarnations on the Playa:
  • 2007: Wing frames, eyes, and abdomen were made, but then partially destroyed night one on playa — devastating.
    • This is because we only had funding for base components​.  We couldn't afford wing hydraulics, only winches.  This resulted in an immediate failure when wind lifted one wing and dropped it on top of the other wing.  Luckily, it was engineered with layers of safety built in. 
  • 2008: Mike and Lira reengineered, rebuilt, & transformed the Lep with the help of a Burning Man grant!
    • The wings & frame were repaired and re-worked to include strong hydraulics​.
    • The winches were repurposed for a built-in crane, to hoist the massive wings to the thorax after ground assembly.
    • A chrysalis was built in place of the Dodge van's body.  The Lep now carries 24 people comfortably.
    • Halogen light pods were engineered to interactively control the color-changing wings.
    • Flaming antennae and interactive flame-thrower/poofer were added — she now farts fire.
    • A gasifier was engineered that partially-combusted organic material that then ran the engine.
    • Everything was made shiny and had an impeccable finished quality.
  • 2010: We redesign the wing's light pods.
    • The lights on the wings at night were upgraded from halogen to LED, making them super bright.
      • This provided radical illumination of the wings, all the way out to her tips — making her sheer size of 55 feet of wing, pop in the dark.
    • Gasifier was removed due to it being stinky (yet efficient) more room for people.
    • The wing covering's accents were replaced with a lighter material from lath to silver shade cloth — allowing for more and bigger accents.
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2007 - devastation,
with a broken wing.
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2008 - the grant year,
with halogen wing lighting.
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2010 - with upgraded LED wing lighting.

On The Discovery Channel

One of the only Mutant Vehicles to receive a grant from Burning Man, the Lepidodgera was featured on the Discovery Channel for her combination of art and innovation.   Check out the clip from that special below!

And this was all in 2008, before we upgraded the light pods on the wings to super bright LEDs in 2010.

Discovery Channel Vide
The Stand-Off between the Lep and the Mantis - 2010
The Lep as a Feat of Engineering
Her Systems & Structures
Her Flapping Wings (... Slowly ;)
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  • Small-diameter aviary wire provides the skins of the wings, with silver shade-cloth for wing accents.

    • This achieves the perfect balance of reflecting light while also allowing as much air flow through the wings as possible — as their sheer size makes them act as sails.

  • Large square-tube stands off perpendicularly from the wings' inner planes to create strength and rigidity by allowing attachment of aircraft cable from those perpendicular tips to points throughout the wing's round-tube structural plane.

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  • Square-tube thorax trussing anchors her wing's attachment points to both the hinge and her hydraulics, as well as forms the base boning of her wings.

  • Round-tube wing boning creates the the long lengths out to the perimeter.

  • Smaller square-tube forms the perimeter.

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  • Extremely powerful push-pull hydraulics, hold the wings in our desired orientation — from almost straight up and down, to horizontal — making them unflappably flappable.

  • The second attachment component of the wings are a beefily-engineered hinges that span the length of where the wing's base meets the Lep's thorax.

  • Thick black round-tube act as both butterfly legs and outriggers to ensure even the strongest wind can't tip this beauty past where her legs touch down to the ground.

The Main Light Components
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  • Her color-changing wings were on remote control that lives in what we call the Orbitron.  

    • We could take the sphere a distance and rotate it to change the Lep's wing colors!

    • This is done with a 3-axis accelerometer attached to a remote, with the receiver hard-wired to the light pods on the wings.

  • Butterflies have breathing holes in their abdomens.  

    • The Lepidodgera's breathing holes are back-lit vintage stop-light covers!

Her Eyes are Luminous

  • Her eyes were made to mimic real butterflies.  

  • The Lep's hexagon ommatidia shapes were engineered and cut utilizing a CNC water jet cutter before being tig welded together.

    • Those hexagon shapes were then back-filled with colored glass.

  • We then back-lit her eyes so they glow in the dark.​

Her Fire Components
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  • The substantial fire farts are made possible with multiple components.

    • A small pilot fire is always alive at night.​

    • And with the press of a button, found under one of the seats on the chrysalis (the Hot Seat), a huge gaseous plume erupts out of that smaller pilot light.  

    • For video of the plume, please check out the 6 minute video where the Lep is featured on a Discovery Channel show.

She's Got a Good Head on Her Thorax
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  • 2-Person Seat in Head!

  • A great vantage point for views.

  • Butterflies have Mohawks. Hers is sharp and made of hardware that reflects her mechanical engineering.

  • Her eyes show her attitude depending on which orientation they are assembled.

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Assembly-Time is Real!
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So is Down-Time
For both wings in the wind, and team resting
Entryway Art at the 2008 Bay Area Maker Faire

You now know that in 2008, Mike and Lira utilized a grant from Burning Man to fill the funding gap needed to make this butterfly and all her engineering components come to life.

 

And earlier that year, we brought her to the 2008 Bay Area Maker Faire where her early, skeletal form greeted faire attendees as the featured art in the entryway plaza!

Some More Pics!
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