What the hell is Burning Man?
That question is impossible to answer and that is not the point of this page. I will say that if you are curious and adventurous then by all means go, it's the only way to understand. What this page might show you is that Burning Man is a reason to create and share awesome art and by doing so you help to create the experience that it is.
In 2013, the 2 months before I left for the playa, I conceived of, designed, and built the first version of my laser scepter. It all started with a 2 Watt 435nm (blue) hand held laser that I bought while in Thailand for work. I mounted it atop a 6 foot scepter and used 2 motors and 3 mirrors to create a laser umbrella effect shining out of the top. 2 knobs allowed me to vary the speed of the 2 "stages" resulting in different patterns.
The project was a success in the sense that it made it to the playa that year on time but uncovered some vulnerabilities in the design. The 2 Watt laser was not meant to be run 100% duty cycle (off 12 D Cells) and the motors I chose to spin the optics were meant for a lower torque application (R/C helicopter tail rotors). So I fried the laser and one of the motors... Wah Wahhhh
The first revision just in time for the 2014 burn was to buy an American made 5 Watt laser and add water cooling to the scepter. I replaced the fried motor and had another good year on playa and the scepter was well received. I took the scepter to the playa in 2015 but at this time some jackass with a hand held laser pointer ended up blinding a ranger and that prompted the org to respond with an all out "hand held laser ban". Boo, I still took the scepter but started feeling the BS of uneducated people wanting to enforce this ban not understanding that safety was designed into my scepter and how it differed from an ordinary and annoying laser pointer that anyone could buy off the shelf.
The final revision came just before the 2016 UnScruz regional burn where I finally replaced the motors with swiss made precision micro motors and swapped the PWM motor controllers with an Arduino Uno and a Adafruit Motor Shield. This sealed the deal, the scepter has been running perfectly ever since but unfortunately it will never see the dust of the playa ever again. I tried to petition the org on eplaya and as I thought, I started a huge shitstorm of peoples opinions and it made me realize that the event that inspired this project no longer welcomes it. 2015 was the last year it made it to Burning Man.
This page shows some CAD renderings and digital pictures of the inner workings of the design, click on the thumbnails above to load hi-res pictures with some explanation of how it works. And don't worry, just because Burning Man got so big and actually has to have rules, doesn't at all mean that the art it inspired died. You can see my scepter at the smaller regional (Santa Cruz, Ca.) events like UnScruz and Soulfire and Bounce parties.