Temple of Gerbils - Burning Man 2017-2018

September 4, 2017   

In 2016, a fellow burner lent us a toy gerbil that mimics whatever you say and jumps up and down. We were challenged to “build a wall” of gerbils. In 2017, we did just that.

The temple of gerbils houses ~100 animatronic toy gerbils. They are wired to a series of relays that allows on/off control of several sections of gerbils at once. These relays are controlled by a raspberry pi and a series of buttons. The pi plays a set of sound effects, then controls the gerbils to repeat the effects (and other gerbils) to hilarious effect.

Thanks to Rusty as co-creator.

Project was mothballed after several electrical fires, volunteers swapping polarity on gerbils, and overall sub-par experience. Technology and hardware skillset were stretched hard for 2 years to figure out how to power and control the hoard.

Materials/Technologies Used

  • Raspberry Pi 4 Runs custom software based on python & twisted framework
  • Over 30amps of power at peek gerbil performance
  • Entire system runs on solar charged batteries in a custom box.