Todmorden Lamplighter Festival 2016

I’ve been talking to some of the people who organise the handmade parade / lamplighter festival about some possible collaborations in 2016.

They are very interested in coming up with ideas about how we can work together and what we might be able to build with them.

Who fancies coming along to a workshop at the space in the new year to thrash out some ideas?

Yes @treb0r , put me down for that - I’m very interested in light installations & collaborating for local events etc

Here’s what I’ve just submitted to Todmorden Lamplighter Parade - for Nov 16. They’re applying for Arts Council funding, & won’t know the outcome for 12 weeks. So, nothing’s firmed up yet.

Bridge Rectifier’s Work
Bridge Rectifier was set up as a hackerspace in mid 2015. Structured as a not-for-profit cooperative organisation (limited by guarantee), based in Hebden Bridge, the group aims to bring together a broad range of people to share knowledge and equipment to work on diverse projects. Typically, hackerspaces enable programmers, engineers, IT administrators, artists, chefs, musicians, and the curious to share knowledge and learn from each other. They’re for people interested in converging technology, arts, crafts and music. In a sense they’re a modern geeky reincarnation of working men’s clubs, women’s institutes and an inventor’s shed where groups of people use imagination and technology to make existing objects do something unexpected. Think of it as an open community laboratory, machine shop and workshop studio with a highly social element.

Individuals are free to work on personal projects, as well as collaborating on larger projects, potentially with a community focus. Following the Boxing Day floods in 2015, current plans include building and implementing a network of flood sensors. The data will be freely available to local people, and will be usedfor a variety of novel applications (including, but not limited to displaying live river levels using visual displays in local shop windows, etc). Other non flood related projects and events include: electronics workshops, robotic drawing machines, art discussions, reading groups, open source software exploration, and open agriculture workshops.

For more information, see:

Proposed Projects
A series of line drawings will be rendered in electroluminescent wire, derived from original drawings produced by Todmorden primary school children. This special wire is covered in plastic sheathing (available in various colours), and glows brightly. It may be powered by special battery packs, or bespoke mains supplies. Up to about 30 ‘wire drawings’ will be created, each perhaps roughly A3 or A2-sized. Images may be stitched onto dark canvas using transparent fishing line. A group of drawings will be displayed together, potentially in a row of church windows. It’s not certain yet whether bright power-hungry wire will be used, needing mains power, or whether dimmer wire will suffice, potentially using battery power. The chosen site may need to be quite dark, and checks made to trade off between image size, wire brightness, and viewing distance. Bridge Rectifier will liaise with schools to determine a suitable way of sourcing sketches. Image subject matter will be determined after a parade theme is chosen.

A second series of images will be created using (laser-cut) acrylic sheet, lit from the edge by one or more coloured LEDs powered by batteries. Power requirements will need to be determined after experimentation with image size. The image may be engraved by hand, or by laser-cutter, or by other methods (if these facilitate re-use of the acrylic for future years). Images will be sourced from secondary school pupils, potentially involving pupils in preparation of computer files ready for laser-cutting. Appearing to be lit from behind, these images will be suitable for display in a large church window – subject to appropriate fixing methods being identified.

How It Furthers Group’s Practice/ Ongoing Work
These two projects help to raise community awareness of Bridge Rectifier, its capabilities, facilities, and approach to collaborative working. Currently, the group needs to grow its membership to a sustainable level over the next year, whilst most of its running costs are covered by a Small Grant from Calderdale Council. BR intend to buy a laser-cutter in the next few months, which will be the group’s largest acquisition. A high profile laser-cutting application, via Lamplighter Parade, would help further promote Bridge Rectifier membership benefits for artists and makers across the region.

Approximate Budget
Bridge Rectifier plans to deliver both projects within a total budget of £1,000. Using volunteers, the group will need to purchase large amounts of electroluminescent wire and specialist power supplies, together with a lot of acrylic sheet, LED strips and suitable battery packs. Backing and mounting the work also needs to be considered.

Costs will depend on the number of images/ pupils involved; image size; EL wire brightness; and any specialist power requirements. All of that is difficult to gauge at such short notice.

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Great work Guy.

I just saw their response and they seem really happy.

Yes, Lamplighter seem keen on going ahead. Things may go quiet for awhile at Lamplighter’s end - they’re applying for Arts Council funding & will wait 12 weeks for the outcome. Regarding schools, that takes us to the end of summer term before BR know whether it’s game on.

I don’t want to get to September to make links there. So, I’ll make tentative enquiries, & tee up what schools involvement I’ve proposed ASAP. I’ll buy some kit myself & develop prototypes, and also plan how it’s all going to fit together with community involvement etc. Now, if only we had a laser-cutter . . . .

Now, if only we had a laser-cutter . . . .

The sooner we have an AGM, the sooner we can move to a decision. Then we can proceed with raising then required additional funding.

For Todmorden Lamplighter Festival on 19th November, I’ve been offered the market/ carpark side of the big church as a display area. There are 8 massive upstairs windows, though maybe the 5 in the main hall would be more than enough - see photo.

I propose using electroluminescent wire to reproduce primary school children’s drawings - because they want community involvement.

Each window is split into 6 panes - 2 panes wide, each 50cm; 3 panes high - bottom row 60cm & top 2 each 70cm high. As the window’s fragmented, with thick cross-bars etc, it makes sense to treat as 6 separate images - if all panes occupied.

Windows are at least 18 - 20 ft above ground. So, viewing distance/ brightness is an issue. From an initial check tonight with @paul123 and potential new member, Gareth from Sowerby Bridge, we concluded even a cheap battery operated pack with 3 wires would probably be bright enough. This has 3 colours, which could each be enough for 1 pane. Hence, 5 windows x 6 panes could be covered by 10 such packs.

The Make site talks of using a ‘sequencer’, programmed from an Arduino, to create light patterns in an EL wire costume. Instead of 6 static images in a window, or flashing alternately as 3 on/ 3 off, why not illuminate varying combinations continually through the evening? @paul123 seems to think we could tap into the circuit with a relay, and control this via an Arduino. He also talked about wiring up a 555 chip, which I think is what we used last Oct to create a contact microphone on a rubber glove for the Earth Coding workshop - I’m not entirely clued up about that approach. Anyway, there’s time to test different approaches - if I know what kit to buy for trials. Anyway, any more thoughts gratefully received . . . .

Given a £400 budget, EL wire & converters may only cost £100 if I keep it simple, Arduinos & lots of batteries may cost another £100. Even if wire images are attached to builders’ polythene, and broken lines achieved with opaque tape, I may also need to attach mountboard/ similar behind images to black out all the windows properly - particularly if the opposite windows are illuminated by another art project. Any funds left over will be donated to BR - my time’s donated free. Although Arduinos & EL wire are re-usable, I think everything becomes Lamplighter’s property afterwards.

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Got a meeting next week with Year 5 (9 - 10 yr olds) teacher at Tod CE J, I & N School to present example of EL wire drawing, & plan how to get 29 kids drawing images to be transcribed. Awaiting news from Lamplighter/ Handmade Parade on this year’s theme.

Need to make sample image - will bring along Wed evening. Also need to research how to use Arduino/ whatever to vary sequence of which images are illuminated at any 1 time . . .

Just spent the afternoon watching a class of primary school children making string drawings for me to transcribe in electroluminescent wire. Now all the work begins . . .

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Just received the test batch of 5 x 3M of EL wire, together with an off the shelf sequencer, & inverter (converts batteries to high voltage AC). Sequencer has a small red push button to toggle between sequence types - like xmas fairy lights. Works very well, & with no effort. Will fetch along tomorrow night.

Also ordered a special Sparkfun shield for an Arduino, which switches high voltage safely, & allows multiple EL wires to be controlled from the Arduino. Will program that to cycle through lots of sequence types, as won’t be able to include a push button - unless some clever person knows different?

Planning to try both approaches & see what happens. Found out too late the shield’s coming from France, so still waiting. Lamplighter would like the public to have a control button to play with . . . The first product may need a big button overlaying on the case - helpful ideas, anyone?

Now to make sense of those string drawings . . .

Here are some sample drawings in EL wire. Planning to fill 18 window panes . . . . .


Last night I made another 5 drawings down at the hackerspace. That makes 14 reproduced from children’s drawings for display in Central Methodist Church windows.

I’ll also display a scrolling LED matrix that mentions Bridge Rectifier. Now I just need to create 3 of my own EL wire drawings to fill the other window panes - I’m filling 6 panes in each of 3 windows.

As 'm donating my time for free, any surplus funds from Lamplighter will go into BR’s coffers.

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Good work Guy!

Let’s hope it runs out drier than last year. I will be bringing my son along to have a look.

Yes, I got completely drenched last year, @treb0r . The weather forecast is currently cold, but dry - wetter stuff on Sunday

These looked great. Good work Guy.

Thanks, Matt. It was a great event this year - the drier weather helped, even if wet under foot, & cold.

I though the giant puppets etc for the parade were fabulous. I was pleased to be involved, & relieved I didn’t have any technical hitches. Mine was difficult to photograph, & I’m not sure ‘auto correct’ helps much, but below are what I took. The bright strip is the scrolling LED matrix I used to raise awarenes of BR - it read “Mythical fire creatures by Todmorden CE School & hackerspace

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Hi @RoboGuy, well done, they looked great.

Had a good night all round even if I was surprised at how the small event two years ago has now grown at least ten times bigger.

I arranged to meet some friends at the Golden Lion but just couldn’t get in the door, it was mad.

I was surprised by the numbers too, @treb0r . I didn’t get to the first 2, and last year’s was affected badly by atrocious weather. Christian, who did the 2 video projections - 1 in the arched church windows, & the monochrome 1 on the rectangular metal frame next to the road - reckoned there were probably 3,000 people there, & I wouldn’t dispute that. Very encouraging regarding what we may do for next year . . . .

From what I can tell they looked great. Nice work, @RoboGuy!

I couldn’t get a drink at one point as they’d ran out of glasses, had to stand around at the bar while someone went on a scouting mission to reclaim some.