BeagleBone Black project spotlight: Disorient Pyramid

By Tara Stratton

When you think of Pyramids in the middle of the desert, you think of
Egypt, —not Nevada. The Disorient Pyramid, which was on display at
Burning Man 2013 this year in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada, is
changing all that.

This year at Burning Man, the Disorient Camp hosted a 23-foot tall
pyramid with more than half a kilometer of LED strips. Several
artists, including Disorient founder Leo Villareal and Fresno Idea
Works’ Jacob Joaquin, designed patterns for the panel. Designs
included the double helix of DNA, wiggling snakes and abstract
patterns. The pyramid could be seen from almost everywhere on the
playa, helping people find the camp and making it a popular place to

A Sitara-based BeagleBone Black open-source computer running
LEDscape drove each face of the pyramid, slicing the images into
individual panels. BeagleBone Black then sent each piece to four
Teensy 3.0 USB development boards, which drove eight LED strips on
each panel.

A Toughbook ran the pyramid Transmitter code, which rendered the
animation frames to 24-bit bitmaps and sent them to the network via

The pyramid’s tall panels were powered by 5V 40a power supplies,
and the smaller panels were powered by 5V 30A power supplies. The
heat and dust caused several of the power supplies to fail, leading
the team to do some ad hoc maintenance during Burning Man.
Nevertheless, the Disorient Pyramid and its 16,000 LEDs gave quite a
show during Burning Man!

NYC Resistor has some great pictures of this project at
For more information about the Disorient camp, visit