- Patrick Renner and Kelly O’Brien are our guests this week.
- Houston Museum of Natural Science
- Project for the new Energy Section of the museum
- Different set of challenges than previous projects
- Has to last over a decade with no maintenance
Special thanks to whixr over at Tymkrs for the intro and outro!
About The Hosts
Parker Dillmann is MacroFab's Co-Founder, and Lead ECE with backgrounds in Embedded System Design, and Digital Signal Processing. He got his start in 2005 by hacking Nintendo consoles into portable gaming units. He also runs the blog, longhornengineer.com, where he posts his personal projects, technical guides, and appnotes about board layout design and components. Parker graduated with a BS in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Texas.
Stephen Kraig began his electronics career by building musical oriented circuits in 2003. Stephen is an avid guitar player and, in his down time, manufactures audio electronics including guitar amplifiers, pedals, and pro audio gear. Stephen graduated with a BS in Electrical Engineering from Texas A&M University.
Host 1 00:10
All right, MEP EP number 58. Welcome to the macro fab engineering podcasts. We're guests, Patrick greener and Kelly O'Brien.
Host 1 00:18
And we're your hosts Parker Dolan
Host 3 00:19
And Steven Craig.
Host 1 00:21
So this is episode number 58. I'll like to thank our listeners. We haven't had a episode where we've been able to address our listeners for a while since we've had so many guests in a row. Yeah. But we are reading all your emails. And we'll hopefully get to y'all shortly.
Host 3 00:37
Yeah, we've we've gotten a handful of questions and requests and things. So we'll get back to you guys really soon.
Host 1 00:44
Yeah. And so yeah, our guests this week are Patrick Renner. And Kelly O'Brien. They are part of the Flying carpets was a creative, right? Yep. They're nodding their heads for those that can't see. And that's a flying carpet. creative.com. Right. Yeah, as far as I know. And it's a basically, it's a public sculpture group dedicated to dynamic placemaking.
Host 3 01:12
This is verbatim from your website, we went to your about, we've done that with a couple guests. It's just like a, in fact, our last guest, we just grabbed his title from Twitter and just read that.
Host 1 01:21
Yeah. Did you retweet any of his his tweets?
Host 3 01:26
I guess we probably have he I think he actually retweeted a handful of our stuff. Yes. So can you guys tell us a little bit about flying carpet and what you guys do there? Sure.
Host 1 01:39
The website pretty much sums it up.
Host 3 01:41
Just just guide every one of them.
Host 1 01:45
To Google Chrome or Firefox. Double click and type in
Host 1 01:50
There you go. Let me do that for you now. So we do, I guess we're still we're pretty new at what we've been doing what we do individually for, probably, since we were able to make things I guess that's what we are. And so Patrick, and I approach making things from different points of view. But in the end, we sort of collaborate to do kind of what you talked about, and sort of join together in, in trying to make large scale at this point, public art, but really what we're concerned about, is making beautiful, cool things that come directly from our brain, and figuring out all the challenges, and all this sort of aspects of trying to like figure that out. And so, you know, we basically figure out how to make creative projects and implement them.
Host 1 02:35
Yeah. And, you know, as an artist working with an engineer, it's a really golden opportunity. Because, obviously, all the time artists think of things that are crazy, but then they can't realize them. And so and then I think likewise, Kelly, you know, the nice thing for him, perhaps is to like, apply his vast knowledge of engineering in a way that's more creative. So we get to both kind of like step into the other world of, you know, where the where the person is trained from that we're working with. And, yeah, we just get to like, go nuts and do crazy stuff and occasionally get paid to do it. Yeah.
Host 1 03:10
That's always the best. That's the end goal. Yeah, that's great. Let's dial the knob back, I guess a bit and go on to your backgrounds and who y'all are? Personally, I guess.
Host 1 03:23
Okay, sure. So, this is Patrick speaking, again, the more monotone of the two. And the better looking on on radio. So I have an art background. You know, I've been interested in art since I was in high school, and knew that I wanted to pursue that. And then kind of through a variety of things like a, like a Plinko situation, you know, bouncing off of one thing. And then the other, I kind of, eventually started looking at public art as an opportunity to engage with people beyond just the gallery situation. And so. So anyway, yeah, I guess I'm from Houston, and then I went away for school and came back. And I've found that this has been like a really fertile city to work inside of, you know, due to all the different industries that are here that are kind of overlapping and touching on one another, and through, you know, through, through, like, some art opportunities. I've met many people among them was Kelly. So I don't know you want to take up there tell your own story. Because
Host 1 04:32
A little question. So you said you just you wanted to be an artist, because I like just one day it just popped in your brain or was there a mentor or a class you took in school or?
Host 1 04:44
Well, I guess, you know, it would be appropriate to credit my parents because both of them actually have our degrees, although they have not chosen to pursue that given that they're more practical in nature. You know, so my dad went more the education route and then my mom actually, so maybe there are I realized now that there may be some sort of familiarity with this idea of like, what a crossover looks like my mom has actually been in kind of the data aspect of the, of the oil field for a long time. So there's this idea of like, you know, what is what does a creative mind look like when applied to like maybe more of a rigorous and less willy nilly kind of a pursuit?
Host 3 05:23
But she sings in the symphony, right?
Host 1 05:24
Yeah. So I mean, she's not neither of them are without creative outlets. They definitely are both very creative in their ways. And yet, Steve, you You of course, know, my parents, and I'm glad you brought that up. My mom is actually going on 20 years, singing the Houston Symphony, and she's a badass. I appreciate that. My dad does all kinds of creative stuff. So anyway, they encouraged me a lot. And it, they didn't push me to do it, but they gave me lots of opportunities to see art and talk to creative people, you know, step into people's studios and really get a sense for what that was like. And it just felt like a natural outgrowth of, of what my childhood looked like. So kellyco
Host 1 06:03
Yes, so um, I guess I'm, I grew up in Minnesota. We up north, far from where we are right now, Houston, Texas. But um, yeah, so I guess my childhood revolved around, I was one of those, I guess, a lot of engineers have this sort of this childhood of trying to figure things out. And that's always been my sort of drive is, I always want to know, like how a thing works, or how you know, how a thing is done, or what the best way of doing those things are. And so I guess from an early age, I, I didn't know that I wanted to be an engineer, but I knew who I was. And I was just fortunate that, you know, I think it was my junior year in high school, someone said, Someone described what an engineer was to me. And I was like, that's what I want to be. Like, I mean, that's what I have. And so I've always been like, an inventor, and a discover of specifically mechanical problems, and like how mechanisms and things work, that's what's always sort of, like thrilled me when you see this, like beautiful thing and how it operates. And sort of the, the genius behind someone else's design. You know, when you dig into it, you pick it apart. And then you can use those sort of like, those techniques that they use, like, if you get into an engine, and you figure out how it can work. Like, I didn't think of that myself, or maybe you did think of it yourself, but you can apply it in sort of new and novel ways. So um, yeah, so I kind of, you know, I didn't know what I wanted to be in high school until, you know, until someone said, you know, engineering is what you want, if that's who you are, you should go and like study that. And so, I made the migration from Minnesota to North Dakota, Fargo, North Dakota, where I went to school got my, my mechanical, my bachelor's in mechanical engineering. And then that took me five years because I started off in electrical engineering. Yeah, I think that's isn't that your that's your degree, but
Host 3 07:57
I feel so sorry for you.
Host 1 07:58
To me, I spent three years he and I got the circuits one and I was like this imaginary boxes and whatnot. Like I want to see that thing you know, I want to touch
Host 1 08:08
But when you get to that part, you just go Yeah, imaginary numbers. Yeah. You pretend to believe it. And you lease and what we do you never see that stuff again.
Host 3 08:21
Well, you can find it if you want to. Right, but But you don't ever use it?
Host 1 08:25
Well, it weeded me out in a hurry, because I had a hard time pushing the I believe button because I just can't like I comes back to who I am. I can't just like accept. I mean, that's a revolution. I just can't accept like, Okay, I believe that that's what's happening. I want to see it and feel it and taste and test it. And I'm sure you can do it. But at that point in my life, I was a little more, you know, concerned with Chase and tail and getting drunk and everything. But I taken a dynamics class college life. Yeah, right. Remember that? I'd taken a dynamic class and I was like, Oh, this is fascinating. Like, this is what I want. And I didn't have to take it. It was like after statics was an elective, but I was curious with these mechanical things, and I took that I ended up not passing any classes that semester. Because I was like, just rebelling. I was like, I don't want to do this. This is a terrible major for me. Like I don't know why I'm in school and I had to make a decision. I'm like, am I going to stick with this like higher degree? Or am I going to change? Am I gonna drop out? What am I going to do? And that class that dynamics class was the one that said, Oh, you need to go and mechanical you're just like doing this wrong. So I went in there and then got you know, three five GPA with 20 credits the rest of the way out because I love it because you actually liked it. I was I actually liked it cuz I actually I just locked myself in architectural library because those guys don't use their library. So I you know, quiet place to like, study and yeah, and then after that, that's sorry, go ahead. Go ahead. After that, I left Fargo I was looking for some adventure. Road trip around the country for a couple years. Cruise to out to Bar Harbor, Maine, an island out in the Atlantic cruise to live in Breckenridge, Colorado for a year or I guess a season and just snowboard bum work in a restaurant job. And then I went to Alaska into remote part of the Kenai Fjords and was a kayak guide for a while, and then came back with crushing student debt. Student loan debt. And yeah,
Host 1 10:15
Why would you after all those places stop in Houston? I was run out of gas.
Host 1 10:20
Yeah. Gas equals money then yes, like. And so I pretty much yeah, like, all these beautiful places. And then I needed I needed to, I needed some cash. And I needed to apply my degree. And I was sick of living in my parents because I went home after the season, and I was on my parents plays for like, two months. And I was like, I gotta go was 2008 Like, all the economy was like, at the beginning of certain want to like sort of fall down and, and then Houston had a job. They hired me and I came down and he always has jobs. Yeah. And yeah, and I was like, Alright, great. I'll go, you know, and like, I'm still that college mindset. I'm like, what would be a good place to live here? I don't know. Anyone, you know, maybe my one near one of the colleges like, Oh, here's a cheap place on Scott Street. Cool.
Host 3 11:04
I'll just buy universities.
Host 1 11:09
Yeah, so I learned quick about Houston over there.
Host 1 11:13
I mean, so Well, yeah.
Host 1 11:15
I was just well, does. I've really liked the warehouse sort of industrial living. Yeah, I wish all the people on the radio could see where we're sitting right now. Because it's one of the most
Host 3 11:25
I think we've actually we've posted some pictures of the place. In fact, we should do that again. And if you check out our Star Wars special, which is on YouTube, you can kind of see a little bit of the room and out the point where it is where you really yeah, there we go, go watch it, because
Host 1 11:38
No one is connected to the force.
Host 3 11:42
So I got two things real quick about what you said. First of all, when you when you were talking about, you know, opening the engine and seeing a cameo like oh, I can use that. I love that feeling. But but the the feeling with that I think engineers really get when they when they open up something new. And instead of saying I can get that like figuring out what happened, and then it's like, oh, my god, somebody actually thought this up. That is a crazy, crazy feeling. When you when you when you look at something super complex, you're like, how did somebody actually imagine that? That's, that's just super cool. And
Host 1 12:19
Going off that too. It's even nowadays, it's like, it's not even, I don't think nowadays, it's too far of a stretch. Because you have computer simulation and stuff like that you can you have solid work. So you can design an actual mechanical machine and press go. And you can see if it moves. But you know, back in the 80s. And before, you didn't have that now you had to draw everything on paper. And you kind of just had to build it. And hopefully it worked how you wanted to work.
Host 3 12:49
I was looking at some old analog schematics over this this last weekend. And, you know, I like to think of myself as an analog guy. And I can kind of, I can kind of chug my way through analog circuits, but I looked at some old ones. I don't exactly remember what it was for. But the Voodoo they were doing in the circuits. Were just like, I mean, just looking at the page, I didn't even know where to start analyzing it, because it was just like, wow, how did somebody actually put that together. And you know, nowadays, you just, there's some kind of 50 cent processor in your in your board. And it would do exactly the same thing as this old analog circuit. But I love to see that old, like, when you have a problem, and you come up with an elegant solution to it, it usually ends up being deceptively simple, yet really beautiful in some way. And so I love when you like the camp thing, that's just that's perfect.
Host 1 13:42
Find like those those solutions, the respect that you have for the people that were doing when they didn't have the modern day tools that we use today. Yeah, I feel like those solutions, elegant solutions come from it takes a lot more time. And it takes a lot more like you say like using SolidWorks, or some sort of like three dimensional CAD program, you know, where they're setting up gears and make sure everything works. Like I feel like those, the people that were solving these difficult problems like had a much deeper sort of like, connection with their brain and being able to like keep this Elissa mechanical sense of spatial recognition of like, when the shaft comes through this bearing then well, there's gonna have to be an end and then it connects up to this right and where we can. We're almost more visual readers at this point. Chair and it's yeah, it's mechanisms can be beautiful, for sure.
Host 3 14:31
Cool. So just to let our listeners know, I personally have worked with Patrick and Kelly in the past on a handful of projects. I've I've known both of them for gosh, going on what four or five years, maybe maybe even more than that.
Host 1 14:48
At least Yeah, maybe maybe like six or beyond. I don't know. Yeah, yeah. So I'm it's hard.
Host 3 14:54
So Patrick and I have have been part of a an art collective that kind of Have meets the boundary between technology and art. So we've we've certainly spent many a long night working on your head against together. Yeah. And actually, because of that, that art collective, we kind of did some projects in conjunction with Kelly over here. And I would, I would venture to guess that our listeners probably don't have access to this world as much as you know, some other podcasts, likely. So I'm curious about you guys, the connection between you two, and how you guys kind of dance the line between? Here's the more tech side, here's the more art side, and how do you guys play around with that? And how do you deal with that?
Host 1 15:40
Well, we're both I mean, we're not like, we're not oil and water, we'll say, right, we're both, we both have very, like minds, like I said, we just kind of chose different things to study in college, if you will. Right. And so it's very easy for us to sort of communicate, and but you know, Patrick's obviously more sort of art focused, and I'm more engineering focused, but both of our brains work in the same ways of, you know, trying to, like, you know, Patrick's a very, like, intuitive engineer, if you will, and I've got my own sort of aesthetic style, as well. And so, we work that's, in fact, why we're probably working together today is just because it is really simple for us to jam on an idea. And both of us not to like, you know, we both know that. We, you can't use a sky hook, you know, like, you know, just a wire going into the, you know, we're not architecture
Host 1 16:31
Wait, wait, is my next idea what's our next? Yeah,
Host 1 16:34
That was an excellent. And we both know that, you know, like, you don't necessarily want to have everything exposes, aesthetically, we want to see, you know, there's certain lines that you want to, you know, make a parent. And so, you know, it's been very easy for us to sort of work together.
Host 1 16:50
No, that's like, you know, designed to be like a like a deck or something. And you want look nice and like, well, this work, but engineers are going to have to install anti gravity devices in their brain and make that work.
Host 3 17:03
Well, that's that's the plight of architects and engineers, right? The architects first idea, they hand to the engineers, and the engineer shit their pants, and then say, go back and redesign it, right? Because Oh, no, it's just ain't gonna work.
Host 1 17:14
Work. We just need tungsten i beams. Yeah, right. Yeah.
Host 1 17:17
There we go.
Host 1 17:18
Yeah, it's always fun to like, conceive of something and be like, What do you think Kelly? And then he is like, be like, dude, what? How are you smoking?
Host 1 17:25
Yeah. Actually, I was there ever a tungsten ID moments? for y'all. It's all time. It's
Host 1 17:33
All tungsten? Yeah. I guess. I don't know, I don't really have that, that memory is sort of like keep, like, I guess I always focused on sort of, like, what the next, like, the solution is that we get to right, and this process that we step through, there's definitely, you know, sometimes Patrick will come up, and I'm almost going leaning that way too with art because I feel like I come with an oil and gas background, right. And so we need stuff to be designed sort of industrial, heavy kind of things, right. And Patrick comes from, you know, the art backroom where, you know, not saying Patrick's work, but some artists work is it's, uh, you know, cotton balls and Elmers glue, right?
Host 3 18:12
There's a lot of truth to that.
Host 1 18:16
But Patrick loves work with metal wood, so very structural materials. And he's through just sort of like figuring out what falls down and what doesn't, has figured out like, where we can do some things and like, he's sort of like pointed to like, well, we don't need to use this massive beam here. We can, like, truss it out, as he says, you know, we can trust this thing out with some, you know, some three A's rod or whatever it is, right. Tungsten or Yeah. Right. And so, you know, there's definitely been some, but, you know, we find, we both have points, I guess that in when we've worked together, that we've just like, held true to, like, held strong and saying, like, listen, I will, I will negotiate this part and this part in this part, but we can't do it this way. Yeah. Right. And then the other one, like, realize that the other one series about that, and then we figure out how to like, work around it. Yeah. And, and like, that's the reason why we've made some really amazing things is because at one point or another one of us steps up in like, does what's right for the project? Right?
Host 1 19:09
Yeah, it's a super fun negotiation to be like, Look, man, I really, we have to do it this way. And then the other guy's like, I don't know, you know, like, maybe let's reconsider a little bit. And then we kind of like meet in the middle somewhere. And then, you know, through that process, there's a lot of opportunities to kind of like, look around the corner at a different solution than maybe the one that would initially seem most either like practical or aesthetically beautiful. Sometimes, you know, either of those extremes don't really work. And so we have to then invent like an yet another option. And so that's a really fascinating process that I think we, you know, we continue to be excited by that and I think it's something that we essentially prototypes and
Host 3 19:50
That's a process you'll never exhaust. Right, right. And that'll just continue until you die. And Patrick's probably heard me say this a bunch of times, but if I'm I've always felt that artists are just freeform engineers, and engineers are artists with structure. Yeah. And it's really I truly believe that that like, even the mindset is, is the same, we just look at things differently. And in working with Patrick, he's an absolute wizard, when it comes to molding materials into something else. And so many times I'll be thinking like, Okay, if I get this piece of whatever, and I mill it this way, and I put it on my CNC and I do something, and before I even say it, like he's chopped it into whatever I was looking for, and I'm looking for this, you know, I'm looking for this, like, really exacting way of doing it's like, oh, well, yeah, well, you could do it that way.
Host 1 20:41
I think the term you're looking for is craptastic.
Host 3 20:44
Yeah. craptastic. Yeah, that's, that's your method. But functional?
Host 1 20:47
Well, I think, you know, that's coming directly out of like, an inability to afford a lot of like, fancy stuff initially, like, now we're kind of going in that direction, maybe a little more, which is nice. But initially, as an artist, like actually, a vast majority of the work that I've made is a direct outcropping from doing it's kind of cliched, but like pulling stuff out of the trash, you know, like, driving through my neighborhood or nearby neighborhood growing up and being like, I have this idea that I want to realize and what can I render that in and finding a pile of architectural refuse? And that being like, the thing that at that moment fit the bill, you know, and then making it work?
Host 1 21:24
We all shop? Yes.
Host 1 21:28
Go ahead. I don't know if we can call it a shop so much is like a garbage storehouse. But wait,
Host 1 21:32
No fly carpet or Patrick's? Talking about the street? So just keep that? Yeah, no, I'm actually never been there. You should you should come out, it's
Host 1 21:41
In. I mean, clearly, there's out there. If you're interested in contacting us and checking out the spot, you know, we'd like to connect with pupils. That'd be cool.
Host 3 21:50
But be warned you you might actually get content be cool. Yeah.
Host 1 21:53
Well find carpet is much more professional, quote, unquote. You know, it's much more in the vein of like a working fabrication facility, rather than the the loose ship that I run in the other spots. You know, yeah, we
Host 1 22:09
Have a beautiful facility on the east side of Houston downtown, which if you're not from here, I'm not sure everyone's all the listeners are from but it's kind of the area of town that's sort of up and coming. And, you know, they're starting to, you know, build some interesting buildings and in the parking lots in the open fields that were there in between sort of more industrial side of Houston. to shame to though some of the buildings are being just torn down for these terrible looking condos that absolutely drive me nuts. But we happen to get into a really cool building that about 16,000 square foot. It's got multiple gantry cranes, cranes and bridge cranes. Yeah, one of them's a five time bridge crane, one of them actually works and yeah, control. Yeah, well, it's it's pretty, it's pretty amazing. But it still looks like it's awesome. Yeah. So
Host 1 22:56
I mean, I think that are the building even really sort of exemplifies the, the kind of like, hybrid hybridized vision of what we've created as far as like something that's like, rough and ready, but also incorporates a lot of, you know, pretty high tech, things that we can engage
Host 3 23:15
Like, from a gantry canes. Yeah, yeah. It's pretty high tech. For sure.
Host 1 23:21
Yeah. Let's do that might be like the hallmark of Patrick's workspaces is broken gantry cranes. That is
Host 3 23:26
True, because in both of your workshop,
Host 1 23:27
That's true. I
Host 3 23:28
Can gauge Okay, well, well, okay. One of the only moves you know, in two axes. The other one is,
Host 1 23:34
I mean, you know, I work in 3d, like, how many axes do you need two seems sufficient. Right? Yeah. Anyway,
Host 1 23:43
I'm more of a three dimensional kind of, yeah, I'm gonna I'm gonna need all the axes. I'm greedy. We have. So our bridge crane works perfectly, which is awesome. On a remote control, by the way, too, which is sweet, because not one sit at one end of the building and you could be IoT
Host 1 23:56
Yet. What's an IoT things? Gene control? Oh, um,
Host 1 24:04
I don't know about that. Let's, I kind of like, I kind of like having this feels like you're arming the nuclear warhead. Right now. Like with this remote, you know, there's like a key that goes into phones.
Host 1 24:15
Host 3 24:21
Are we really gonna do this? At the same time, it breaks that, like all the other ones. Do it right.
Host 1 24:29
Three out of four broken ones. ain't bad. No, that's bad.
Host 3 24:35
So they've got me projects going on right now.
Host 1 24:39
Yeah, there's always projects
Host 1 24:41
Flying carpet specific projects. What about a flying carpet specific one? So right now we just came off of, well, the Super Bowl project.
Host 1 24:50
Yeah, so we did a little little banger for Super Bowl. No big deal. That was pretty cool. It was like, actually, relative to the other projects we had done leading up to that it was quite a bit smaller in scale, but, you know, still a good, a good opportunity for us. So we had a small feature in in Discovery Green during the Superbowl. And that was a nice opportunity in Evergreen
Host 3 25:14
A small park in downtown. Right. So that was a small ish. Yeah, that's
Host 1 25:19
A small relative to things that are bigger. But that was like where a lot of the festivities for Superbowl happened. And that was cool, because the company that sponsored that which was Noble Energy, was one of the partners on Super Bowl. And they, they I was really personally impressed that as an oil and gas company, they had a vision toward something that was more centered on Houston, and was more of like, arguably a grassroots approach rather than the high tech side. So they hired us and even though we have maybe more of a tech oriented approach to art making was still very much about artwork, handmade artwork, as opposed to featuring something that's like, more, more typically related to their industry. So that was, I thought that was noble of them.
Host 1 26:10
Yeah, they're a good plug plug. actually explain that project? Like, I know, it's probably a very visual thing. And we're, you know,
Host 3 26:21
Audio thing. Right. Right. Yeah.
Host 1 26:24
So describing visual art over the radio? Yes. What's the
Host 1 26:28
It's, it was it's taller than it was short,
Host 1 26:31
Right? What was the what was the thing that we said, we're describing it back and forth, that's the short, long side is a long, long, long, short one.
Host 3 26:41
Would not be easier to just get images on your website
Host 1 26:43
We can. So it was a three elements, you know, we I guess typically, we've worked in singular, sculptural pieces, but this one actually was a modular kind of construction. So it's three elements that we called the dunes, and they were these like, very kind of minimalist sculptural pieces that are meant to kind of take a nod off of like a sand dune idea. So swoopy, stainless steel, kind of planar pieces, like some dimension, but kind of like sharp blade like elements, you know. And each one of them. So one of them was like, the vertical was short, but it was long in length. That was the short line. There was a middle sized one that was a little taller, and a little shorter. And then, and then the tallest one was also the shortest in length. So the tallest one in height was shorter, some like anyway,
Host 1 27:42
So whoever can email in the most accurate drawing will send them a small list.
Host 3 27:50
Okay, great. Yeah. We usually have podcast notes that go along with it so people can kind of look at sorry. Yeah, that'd be great. How
Host 1 27:56
Do you keep from cheating, though? You can't look it up. That's one thing. Okay.
Host 1 28:00
That description Tweet us at macro fab. Yeah. With your drawings of
Host 3 28:05
Flying carpet long thing? Sure. Yeah.
Host 1 28:09
Anyway, they were woven stainless steel. So we've been working on that technology, and how to how to create dynamic forms out of this sort of, like, basket weave on steroids, if you will.
Host 1 28:22
Yeah. And so yeah, and that was a really nice project for us because it was compared to and we're not going to go through the exercise of describing this one but our awesome project
Host 1 28:31
Which was scrape everything
Host 1 28:35
It was it was big, like it was that
Host 3 28:37
That thing is a beast. In fact, we Googled you before and over here.
Host 1 28:42
And your friends who doesn't
Host 3 28:45
But but the images on on on Google look like you guys are building the frame to some kind of weird, like, test airplane. Yeah, it looks it looks like the fuselage.
Host 1 28:58
Excuse there are definite screws because it would never fly. But there is some like aeronautical kind of aspect to the form. I mean, we're trying to we're trying to hit that nice like middle ground of like these elegant things that are at the same time, in no way functional.
Host 1 29:15
So it comes it brings you back to understanding sort of like we're talking about those those older school engineers right before computers and stuff and all sudden you find yourself picking a line or Lane a line, like having a shape that you make that's like functional and beautiful you like and then you you go like after you've made it you look back and you see that other people you know your predecessors have landed on that same shape and so, there is some sort of like, like collective consciousness or, you know, a probe approach that you know, you find sort of like, you understand like, as you sort of like do things like your work sometimes reflects that of like the masters have passed, you know,
Host 3 29:51
Be interesting if we are one
Host 1 29:54
If you look at that and go and actually look and see if that was like part of like the golden ratio, you know, cuz that it's just one of those things that it just looks nice and a lot of time. So it does line up with the golden ratio,
Host 1 30:06
Right? Fibonacci sequence to myself into like, yeah, yeah, it's
Host 1 30:11
Yeah, Fibonacci is like probably one of my favorite, you know, elegant number sequences. So I'm not saying that it's my password or anything but
Host 3 30:21
But that's about it never ends. That's a pretty crappy.
Host 1 30:25
No, it's useful. I mean, you can make it as long as you want. Yeah.
Host 1 30:30
Yeah, I think that that was our last project. And it was really nice because it was smaller and sort of, like, more manageable than sort of what we taken on before and for the first time it was,
Host 3 30:40
Well, okay, just when you say last project, you mean the Super Bowl project? Not the Austin Texas project, right there is the awesome technical project was mess.
Host 1 30:46
That was massive. And that was like, that was a killer. Like that was like you're not
Host 1 30:49
As killer as before? Yeah.
Host 3 30:52
Yeah, get get smaller, mentally more sand Dooney? Well, they're
Host 1 30:55
Well, yeah, it's not that it's just that the there's just, it's been easier. So as we as we do more and more these projects, it's become easier as you would expect, I guess.
Host 1 31:05
Sure. We're evolving, like the company and our techniques and our understanding of like, you know, what it what it takes to do but the business side and delivering a product that's doesn't kill us in the process? Well, yeah, but also something that's like, really, hopefully not that commonplace, like something that people haven't really seen before. Yeah, trying to hit a niche of something, you know, it's, it's, it's a challenging task to sell the thing that you don't really need to people, you know,
Host 3 31:34
Well, wait, you can on the nose, find the use of. Right, right, that's really tough to say, I'll
Host 1 31:40
Go with that, that definition of art where art has to be it's just art, it doesn't have any other function. Yeah,
Host 1 31:46
Art for art's sake. I mean, that's, you know, that's a whole can of worms that I have very mixed feelings about. But, you know, I think there's this prevailing idea that for something to be pure, proper art or whatever, it can't have any usefulness, and I for 1am, interested in doing things that don't pertain to that mindset, you know, that's where like, building stuff with Kelly that is, it does actually have some function. So I'm, perhaps being too self effacing, to say that it's useless. But, you know, we're creating these placemaking objects, like we talked about in our, our fancy description of ourselves, and, you know, they function as like, hopefully, like, iconic meeting places for people and places that people can have some kind of experience, whether that's like, you know, having a random chat with somebody there a coffee or what have you, but just something that didn't exist before. As a result of our, our vision sort of things.
Host 1 32:41
Random tangent on that topic is, have any of your art pieces ever become a Pokemon stop?
Host 1 32:48
Maybe, you know, I've never I've never looked into that. So I bet you they have actually, I'm pretty curious to know that I mean, that that would, that would really show that we've made it right. Yeah.
Host 1 33:01
Yeah, I guess how would one ensure that that happens, because now I'd love to have
Host 3 33:07
You guys have to become
Host 1 33:11
PokemonGo? No, no,
Host 1 33:13
I booked a manga one time. With my finger, let me clarify. So that's the closest PokemonGo that I've gotten.
Host 3 33:26
Because you guys actually have a have a permanent piece downtown on Main Street,
Host 1 33:29
Right? Semi permanent. Okay, it's permanent for now.
Host 3 33:34
So it doesn't move easily. In other words, right. Well, it's
Host 1 33:38
So it's permanent in the sense, we built it, so that it would be potentially permanent, which is cool. And that's where, you know, again, super glues down, we use more more. What did you say more Elmers on the cotton balls. But now, this is where like, I would really want to tout Kelly's abilities. I mean, this was, it's funny, like, straight out of the out of the gates, you know, for our company. We attempted and achieved an insanely difficult thing, engineering wise, which was creating a six storey sculptural piece that is, you know, completely structural and rigid and everything. But that also hits a specific point at the top of a building that it's affixed to. So, I mean, it was like, I was impressed, you know, and, you know, I, I'm,
Host 3 34:28
It's no, it's not an easy thing to pull off. No,
Host 1 34:30
I mean, it was crazy, man. I mean, it required a lot of work on everyone's part, but especially in the engineering realm. So you know, in the end, it's funny that probably a lot of people look at it and they see this thing which is aesthetic, and they don't maybe pay as much attention to what is behind that. You know, the the sort of like, the man behind the curtain.
Host 3 34:50
Many many not hundreds, but 1000s of hours of work.
Host 1 34:53
I don't know. Yeah, it's definitely in the 1000s range. Yeah, it was yeah, it was incredible amount of work from from all aspects though, cuz like this was the first project that we took on as a company, right? You know, since you know, since the little things that we got into, you know, with like Xserve, and water walls and things like that, like this was the first major project. And we didn't even have a shop started this Yeah, we didn't even
Host 1 35:17
We didn't have electricity in the building. We didn't have enough of generators to build this crazy.
Host 1 35:21
Build that whole agenda was awesome. So at that point, the crane didn't work. So it was
Host 3 35:27
Like, for all non working. So where do you build a six storey structure?
Host 1 35:32
Yeah, yeah. That's, you know, like, every part of it was hand fabricated and custom, you know, which is a great way to approach things, literally everything,
Host 1 35:39
But the fasteners was a custom like piece. Oh, and a giant turnbuckle that was donated by a company. So yeah, it was, we learned a lot from that project. And it was like, and we succeeded, you know, but um, you know, the, it was a temporary structure. In fact, they were taking down as part of Houston downtown management districts, art blocks initiative. And it was this kind of cool thing where they brought in, was it Jessica, stockholder, stockholder, and some other artists? I guess you could plug them you know,
Host 1 36:10
Yeah. So we were the initial round, featured our work side by side with Jessica stockholders' she's a Chicago based artist. And for me as an artist, you know, I studied her in school. So this is like, no joke to be able to get to debut you're here now. Right? Like, we're here in the basement, man, we made it, you know, like, it's awesome. To be side by side with someone of her caliber is, is really notable, regardless of whether or not you're a fan of the type of work she makes. I mean, I think what she does is cool, because like our work, there's an interest in the engagement with the environment, you know, the the kind of built environment, in this case inside of downtown. But anyway, then there were other artists that are local, that are involved. A guy named Jamal Cyrus had a piece up on the Billboard, the marquee aspect of part of this whole round, and his piece was really cool. And like, celebrating lightning Hopkins, you know, who's a notable musician that has ties to Houston stuff. So anyway, it was it was a cool opportunity, and a crazy thing to do. And yet, I think we both kind of feel like, because it's tucked into this weird niche in downtown that you can't get to buy car. Hardly anyone has seen it. So yeah, this is I mean, I think talking about it on your radio program, viewership will probably double, if not triple A Wow, really? Yeah. I don't know. I'm just
Host 3 37:36
My church is actually downtown. And I have to drive by that every Sunday. And I make a point to look at every
Host 1 37:45
Eyesore but yeah.
Host 3 37:50
And that's the thing. I'm driving down McKinney street and I looked down Maine, and I can see like, the very bottom of it. I can't see the six. I can't even see really one story, but I'm always like, I know the dude who made the made Yeah,
Host 1 38:03
Yeah. And you're looking for and you still can't like see it? Yes, that's the unfortunate part. But it is a really it's an awesome little look to like come across and just fine right across the corner downtown. And like also an in between like these two pretty large bins. You
Host 3 38:17
Don't expect something like that? No at all. It's impressive. Actually, in my opinion, Houston has a lot of that kind of stuff where it's not stuff that's like glaring you in the face you just walk up in like oh my god I didn't know that this was here. He isn't has a lot of gems that you can just find like the bubble.
Host 1 38:36
Yeah, the bubble is great. Yeah, so you're talking about in the buyer. Yeah,
Host 1 38:39
So Oh, no. Yeah, bridge a walkway that you can walk cross on the Bayou here in Houston. And there's a big red button. Yeah. And you press it and a big bubble pops up.
Host 1 38:52
Yeah, that's my friend Dean rock. So I didn't even know about that piece. Despite being you know, Houston, working artists. I didn't know about that piece for like, five or six years after I got back to town. So yeah, there's a lot of hidden gems and that's a great example.
Host 1 39:07
I think it needs to be I always wanted I didn't know it was someone that that you knew who did that but I think it needs I think a little more pizzazz well he wants something yeah like something that like
Host 1 39:17
Do you want like an odor
Host 1 39:21
Bubble of like and filled the bubble with fog.
Host 1 39:26
Fog. I mean, I'm sure this guy would be interested in horror like some collaborative one just maybe
Host 3 39:32
Like carpet should contact him be like we'll be your fog machine.
Host 1 39:35
The deviousness of mice like me we should like I don't know what's those gag buttons that you push and you get like a little shock out of it like a post hack on this little circle, I guess. attacked on this?
Host 3 39:51
Yeah, you'll remember him? Not sure he would not appreciate that. He would love it. Yeah. Well, that's that's that's awesome. So so there is a project that is coming up here soon. Well, not coming up here. So what's happening currently working on it right now. And I brought this up a few weeks ago on the podcast. So we're doing a piece for the Science Museum here in town. And I'm actually working with both Kelly and Patrick on it. But since you're the guest, why don't want to let you guys kind of go a little bit into it. Okay.
Host 1 40:25
Yes. So, um, so the, let's see the, the Museum of what is it natural
Host 1 40:32
Host 3 40:32
Yeah, that one? Yeah.
Host 1 40:34
That was one of the museum's you know,
Host 1 40:35
One of those ones. Yeah. You're not the biggest one here. Yeah, they're,
Host 1 40:39
Anyway sciency. One though.
Host 1 40:41
They're building out the there, I guess rev three of their energy, exhibit energy corridor. And it's actually pretty impressive up there. They've got these sort of this, a couple majorly cool things that we're not really involved with, but just sort of like to give you scale. Like, it's the whole I think they're opening up the fourth floor, a floor that hadn't been opened before. So it's a whole dedicated floor. That's right.
Host 3 41:04
It used to be a wing, just one floor. And now it's an entire floor. Exactly,
Host 1 41:09
Yeah, part of the museum is going away, then.
Host 1 41:12
I think it was like a store, it wasn't very used, it was just kind of like a button that they needed. Let's just say that they need a key still to get up to that level. Okay. And eventually, I don't think they should, I don't think they're really using it for too much of anything, they weren't they're not taking anything out. But um, they've gotten a lot of sort of donations from energy companies and some other donors that I'm not up to snuff with, but a couple of cool, cool exhibits that they have that when we're just walking through, or is this this scale model of Houston? That is, I think it's like 25, or almost 3000 square foot model, like as big as like the fourth floor plan of like a house kind of in there. And like all this so basically, what it is is like the entire thing is made out of like these whites, sort of like buildings and white sort of like topographical you know, sculpture of Houston and like the ideal Houston so, you know, there's a, there's windmills in there and blue water like flowing through this.
Host 3 42:17
Coal plants and brown. Exactly. Deal with Houston,
Host 1 42:23
Actually, the firt when you mentioned like scale model, and it was that big. I'm like, you know, eventually, they're gonna have to get, you know, change out and, you know, put new exhibits in something. If they do that, you have to get there and make a Godzilla movie.
Host 3 42:36
Oh, yeah, that's amazing. Future
Host 1 42:41
Well, the brilliant part some some of you know my other life I'm go to different burns and festivals and stuff like that, like Burning Man, and those types of like large projects, or large get togethers. Some of my friends, they're the ones who are doing the so on top of this whole thing is white. And they have an insane amount of like large projectors that are doing a whole projection mapping thing on here. And so they've incorporated some Easter eggs. And I think one of them might actually be a little bit of Godzilla, or some other things. There's a fire truck that runs through to an emergency thing. There's some, there's all kinds of these guys have fun with life. And they're going to have fun with the projection mapping here too. So there are going to be some little easter eggs like that, because this thing should be around for a while. And it's like it's 16. It's down to like plus or minus a 16th of an inch over the entire length of the thing. It's a projection map on it. That's one of the
Host 3 43:37
And I remember talking to I don't remember exactly what the position or contact had there, but he was talking about just cleaning it. They have to have like a boom. Yeah, like like, like a giant camera. Boom. And they have to extend a person across this entire exhibit. And he has to float in the air just to clean. That's super cool. That
Host 1 43:54
Reminds me of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. Oh, let's
Host 3 43:57
Go to the backyard. Yeah, great. Yes. Exactly. Like imagine that and you know, know how they cleaned? ourselves. Yeah. Oh, yeah. Honey, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids one. Yeah. That's true. So yeah, what else is there? Is
Host 1 44:15
There some interesting you were there for that we got on top of that drill?
Host 1 44:19
Yeah. Yeah, there's a really massive drill has sculpture fully articulated very interesting. The way that they've made it work. I've already forgotten. It's probably, yeah, someone's IP. So I can't tell you.
Host 1 44:30
Yeah. And then there was another really interesting. They basically did some sort of ride kind of like you'd find in Disneyland or something like that, where there's, you know, there's this pod that you get into and then the whole floor and seats and everything around these like, air bladders and so they can simulate like vibrating tables and stuff that simulate you going like down a drilling operation stuff. It's still
Host 3 44:55
What I'm aware of, because I've been going to the science museum since I was little Yeah, elevator. Yeah, well, it's like, Journey to the bottom of a well. Elevator though. Yeah, we do watch the goat. And there's this cheesy dude who comes on the screen. It totally was actually very similar. The floor would shake and they showed like drilling oil. And so yeah. Oh, man, that was great.
Host 1 45:24
Definitely probably the upgraded version of that.
Host 1 45:29
They should have like a throwback, I think, in that exhibition.
Host 3 45:32
Oh, how great would it be if they got the same actor that they had in the original was? Like an old gray beard now? That would be great.
Host 1 45:42
Yeah. So what are you gonna do and so are you like hard and liquid Steven and Patrick and myself are working on is sort of much smaller than all those things, right. And so they just need, they've got so many things going on. They were they pushed the schedule a little bit, I think they're supposed to be open. In a couple months, it got pushed back to I guess, November of 2017, is the new sort of opening exhibition date. And so they were just overwhelmed. And they needed some people that could come in and do a little bit of automation work. And so applying sort of, you know, mechanical abilities with Stephens electrical abilities, and then Patrick's gonna be doing a little fabbing once we get all the things sort of finished up. So basically, what we're doing is there's, you know, an interesting logger and a drill head, and all we got to do is just basically move these components up and down and rotate and have kind of control for typical museum exhibit. Like it's, it's a cool project, I'm glad to like, be a part of it. But it's, it's pretty, it's pretty simple compared to the things that we've taken on the past.
Host 3 46:45
Yeah. So So basically, we're, we've been kind of given a drill head and what was the other one called a logger logger? Yeah. Like, I haven't
Host 1 46:56
Worked in Nancy, grab her hand. Right. Well, it's
Host 1 46:59
Kind of like a caliper. Right. That is, yeah, yeah, it's
Host 3 47:01
A caliper that goes down in the hole and tells you how big the hole is. Right? Yeah, put put, I guess, really simply. But but we're making exhibits that basically just move the the the drill head up and down and spin it and, and kind of the same thing with the longer the the thing that like, that might sound a little bit boring. But when it comes down to the engineering side of things is, you have to remember that there's going to be, you know, a couple million eyes on this. And it's kind of got to work for a really long time. You know, this isn't something where it's like, a lot of times when, with the the art projects that we do, if the project works for a month, we're good, we're good. Yeah. Because like, that's the best the length of the piece. But this is like an art piece that lasts for a decade. You know,
Host 1 47:47
And what I hear you saying, Steve, is we're not going to be using any Harbor Freight motors to articulate this.
Host 3 47:53
But Patrick says that, because we've had some bad experience
Host 1 47:57
With Harbor Freight motor freight is great for certain things. But yes, we don't buy a motor,
Host 3 48:02
Don't don't don't buy motors from them, they might, they might end up damaging some of your piece.
Host 1 48:07
Right. I mean, I think, just to plug it a little further, though, what's cool about this opportunity is that, you know, it gives us a chance to work with you, you know, so we're operating as flying carpet, but we're getting to engage with other people that we know that are creative and capable, like Steve. And then we get to feature something in a very venerable institution. So, you know, it's just we, as a company that is like, pretty, pretty good at Shape shifting. This is, you know, a chance for us to move into a territory that we have worked in before. And it may lead to other things, or it may just be a one off, but either way, it's it's a cool thing to do. Well,
Host 1 48:47
Hopefully, it'll, you know, kind of showcase the fact that we have the ability to do the sort of like more harder tech type things right. And with
Host 3 48:55
This lens more on the rigorous engineering side than it does the art side.
Host 1 49:02
Like this one, tell that story and couple that with hopefully, like an interesting art project. Yeah, yeah. And so that has drill bits
Host 3 49:09
Going in and out all over
Host 1 49:12
That sphere. Robots coming out. Yeah,
Host 3 49:16
That would make an excellent RP plan.
Host 1 49:21
So he says fears.
Host 3 49:23
So Kelly's done a fantastic job. I saw the that drawings recently he kind of kind of gave me that because we sort of drew a line in the sand in a way not in a bad way but in a in a good way. Where Kelly's like, I'm gonna go do all the mechanical stuff and you just make sure that motors turn and I'm like, hey, that's great. I down for this because I can do that. And, and he showed me a lot of the mechanical side of things. And as let's like, kind of back to that whole thing with the cam in the engine earlier. I'm like, Ah, that's good. I like that. That looks like it's gonna work well. So yeah, I'm excited about what's what's come with it.
Host 1 50:01
Yeah, we'll be assembling a little side note of business when you want to get together.
Host 3 50:05
Yeah, we kind of kind of assembling packages at my front door right now waiting with a whole bunch of, in fact, the we talked about this multiple times on the podcast the was it the PLC? Yeah plc.us I think is the website. It's this this fantastic PLC that we've recently been playing around with. And I just did a project at macro fab controlling motors in a in one of our conveyor benches. And and it does a fantastic job. It was super easy to work with. And it's $90. And as soon as as soon as I did that, finish that project I told Kelly I was like we're done on the on the, on the thinking side of the of the electronics on the side that has to have some brains and some smarts. We don't need to go buy some, you know, $800 PLC from Siemens or anything like that. We can just use this thing and it works great.
Host 1 51:03
Yeah. And hopefully last at least a decade, right? At least at least a decade right. Now it felt like Christmas in my house too. In fact, the ups the FedEx and the USPS. Everybody has shown up at my door the last couple of days because like because I'm ordering like these parts from all kinds of different people, right? Yeah, so I'm getting like a bushing from here and like I'm pretty much have like a dozen packages coming in every day. Yeah, and I don't know it feels feels a little like Christmas. And I also feel terrible that I made someone ship like a little tiny thing from across the country just for the job. Yeah. What are you gonna do?
Host 3 51:40
See, the thing that sucks about is you get that elated feeling because you're like, oh, all these packages are showing up. And really in the end what that means is, there is a ton of work in your future like right now there it's all showing up. You don't have that excuse where it's like, oh, well, it's shipping I can't work on it right.
Host 1 51:56
I'm gonna play the optimist and be like yeah, it's actually a lot better than having a machine that bushing myself Oh, good God or build that that stepper motor yourself. Right.
Host 3 52:04
Yeah, right. Lay all the all the magnetic laminations and wind your own cars. I
Host 1 52:09
Mean, yeah, we used to do that back in the day. But yeah.
Host 3 52:14
I bothered by that crap, though. Yeah. So yeah, I think that project is gonna be really fun. And we've the deadline is approaching. So we we will be moving on that I think I think we'll have something ready in a couple weeks here. We'll have at least one of the the two pieces up and moving. So it's exciting to have something go into a science museum. I I don't know how, like, if it's one of those things where like our names will go on a plaque next to it or anything like that, but probably not Yeah, but but we
Host 1 52:50
Are ready to play on whether or not you can host the motors in Morse code that says your names there. Yeah,
Host 3 52:55
Host 1 52:57
There we go. Have you ever heard the like when people do the singing stepper motors, you know, like Stowey otters have like different sort of frequencies like when different pulses and everything I wonder if we could getting those beaker to do like a Mario version drag
Host 3 53:09
Mode. Okay, a bluetooth module that if you find it and connect to it, and then you enter code, it'll start playing music. We can do this that's pretty good.
Host 1 53:20
As long as it doesn't make everything else break in
Host 1 53:25
That shatter yeah bearing okay, I
Host 3 53:27
Tell you what, I will gladly add that to the project. If the very first time we turn it on. And my code works flawlessly and your mechanical aspect works flawlessly. If that happens, I will add that that part okay, so this is like so in other words, it's not
Host 1 53:46
A stretch goal. If we turn everything on and it just works like we want you're gonna make that happen
Host 3 53:53
And I will make that yeah, it doesn't look like it's gonna happen. It does.
Host 1 53:57
I feel like it's gonna happen. Oh, okay, well
Host 3 53:59
Then maybe we will have some secret code and you'll have to get the code on this on by listening to the podcast not repeat
Host 1 54:11
Host 1 54:12
There was something else Oh, so when that project is done, is there a way we can like this, videotape it and put it up on YouTube and
Host 1 54:17
Stuff? Yeah, we intend on actually, if you're curious about the actual project, one of my videographer friends is going to be doing a little miniature documentation. Awesome documentary of this and then also a little plug for TX RX labs I'm a big part of TX RX labs or at least was at one point
Host 3 54:37
XR x is the maker space, the maker
Host 1 54:39
Host 1 54:40
System. Yeah, one of them will say,
Host 3 54:42
Well, yeah, we'll go into the Yeah,
Host 1 54:44
Not quite a founder but like I had my my day and really helped in the right spots and actually want to get more involved with a couple projects that we have up and coming. But um, yeah, they I don't know where I was going with that. The documentary Oh, Yeah, so like what? Yeah, so like some of the parts have been fabricated at TX RX. And also kind of doing sort of like a little bit of a documentary of like the capabilities that TX RX has, and then showcasing some of those, some of the areas that it's been applied. So for example, watching a plasma cutter plasma, cut something out, right, and then seeing it going to application. And then watching the Science Museum thing like move is going to be a few things. So there will be some documentation of what we're doing. And also, we have a room at flying carpet that's dedicated now that's the small office. I don't know if you've seen that yet. But the small office is full of everything for this project. And so we're going to maybe do like a time lapse of assembling everything and do some like real documentation. So if you guys want to throw that up on your website, sure. Awesome. That sounds great.
Host 1 55:52
And I guess we're running really, really, really long time. Really cool. So Kelly, do you want to sign us up?
Host 1 56:00
Oh, yeah, that was a that was a macro fab engineering podcast. We your guests, Kelly O'Brien and Patrick Renner. Thank you for your time.
Host 3 56:09
And we were your host Stephen Craig and Parker DOMA. Take it easy guys.
Host 1 56:13
Agios later, everyone.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai