Tag Archives: KARF Installation

LED Chaser Tube

LED Chaser TubeI saw this really cool thing in a video about early computers that used vacuum tubes to make calculations. One type of tube had a ring of lights inside the end of it that chased each other in a sequential circle giving the impression of rotation.

I’ve always been charmed by the look of glass vacuum tubes from an early age when much of the electronics in things like radios and televisions used them. If you took the back cover off while the device was on you’d see a little forest of small glass bulbs, glowing white/amber. These were accompanied by resisters, capacitors and coils, all arranged on a brown board with lots of wires going all over. There was a smell of something hot and sort of melting. The warmth from the tubes was seeping out right at you.

Back in the 1980’s I found some large vacuum tubes (used in radio transmitters) at a flea market in San Jose California that I made into decorative lamps, by mounting the tubes above the big 6 amp transformers needed to light up the plate inside them and make them glow. They used a huge amount of power, and got very hot, but they sure looked beautiful. I experimented with a way to try and make them look beautiful like that, but not draw so much power. Using a small torch I melted a tiny spot on the side of the glass tube. The vacuum inside the tube caused the glass to melt inwards until it eventually burst inwards with a hole just big enough to wiggle a tiny “grain-of-wheat” light bulb into.  These are the little lights you often find in model railroads that only need 6 volts and very little current. If you held the tube so the wires were behind it, it looked just like a normally powered-up tube, but didn’t get hot at all. An electronics engineer friend in the Silicon Valley saw one of these on a sculpture I was making and commented on how cool the vacuum tube looked. He started looking all a round for the big 6 amp transformer that should have been there to give the tube its power. “Now wait a minute…There’s no…(still nosing all around) wait, you can’t just…” “All right (resignedly) how did you get that tube to light up?” I clued him into my little secret. “Looks convincing, doesn’t it?” “Yes, it does!” he said laughing.

The tubes I saw with the chaser lights in the video about early computers must have had small lights in them too, possibly neon. I decide to make a similar object by using a decade counter chip run by another chip that provides a clock signal. In place of lights, I assembled a rig of bright red LEDs. I had to cut the tube away from its base and cut out the original electronics to fit the LED assembly in their place. I’m really happy with the result! You can see a video clip of this thing in action at my KARF website: https://karflab.wixsite.com/mysite/news

 

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Station 2 sound system

Each of the research stations in the KARF installations has its own sound system. I record and mix a soundscape that is specific to each station in addition to the sounds the equipment makes. Station 2 ( that will be installed in Shed 2 due to be built the first week of February, 2018, in Joshua Tree, California, where it will reside permanently), being themed around fluids and solutions, has a sound track that features voice transmissions of technicians and scientists talking about the science of Station 2. I wrote a script, recorded myself reading the parts, modified each voice track, and mixed in some other segments from other soundscapes I have done for other stations. The end mix will play from a 4 gigabyte mp3 player amplified through a scavenged car stereo. I had to hack the player so it would waken and go into play mode without anyone having to press the buttons on it. The photo shows the prototype setup on my electronics bench. Station 2 sound sys proto

KARF:JT

KARF shed logotype 2 cropA new division of the Kanobis Amplifier Research Facility (KARF) has been approved in Southern California. The new installation will be located in Joshua Tree about 1 mile off hi way 62. The site is being donated by one of my collectors there. The structure designated Shed 2 will be constructed this winter and the research station (Station 2) and all its electronics should be in and running by spring 2018. There is also a new website dedicated to the KARF installations here:https://karflab.wixsite.com/mysite

Keep in touch.

Steve Storz

Sketchbook KARF Station 1

This is a sketchbook drawing from 2010 of one concept for Station 1 of the KARF installation. I look back at old sketchbooks and notes to refresh my ideas and sometimes solve problems I am up against. I like the spindly look of this station-how it has a slight unsteady cant. Nearly all of my sculpture has some part that juts out or leans away from the base. In the real world as I built this I had to center more of the weight over the casters on the bottom. It was that or actually having to deal with it falling over. I found a way to compensate for the teetering feeling I was after by crowding elements onto the upper section of the station, mounting them at slightly cockeyed angles, to get that feeling of precariousness I wanted. Also see the new website about the KARF installations: https://karflab.wixsite.com/mysite

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