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Tonight I was sadly surprised to find that my recent SLR lens upgrade has failed. The lens is a Tamron Tamron SP 24-70mm Di VC, and was performing well on my (also) recent upgrade Canon 5D Mark III camera body. Tonight, I picked up the lens and heard a <thunk> like sound. After removing the lens cap I noticed a horrible anomoly. The second element of the lens was no longer fixed inside of the lens - it was completely loose, and moved freely when the lens was tilted.

Sadly, some research shows that early models of this lens exhibit the same failure. Please see exhibit A: Tamron 24-70 f/2.8 VC Issue, posted September 2012. It seems that there are 3 glue-points holding the second element in place, and these can fail. In my case, I was very careful with the lens, always carrying it in a padded case, as I do with all of my equipment. The owner from the linked blog followed up his report, saying that Tamron fixed the lens and sent a replacement with no flaws. My copy of the lens has performed well so far - I only hope the replacement process goes smoothly.

A bit of irony - I purchased this lens just before embarking on a trip to Japan, and the lens failed the day after I returned. Guess where Tamron is manufactured/designed? I'll leave the speculated answer to the reader.
Tamron 24-70 f/2.8 VC Lens Failure - Second Element Glue Issue


Shadow is now a full body solution for inertial motion capture. The video is also on youtube here. More information can be found at



Here is a video showing my company's new product, Shadow, which is a wearable sensor network for motion capture. The video is also on youtube here. More information can be found at



The lamp at home - now finishing the diffuser, made of polyesther resin and chopped glass strand.
LED-based, cantilevered floor standing lamp



I'm working on a collection of new ligthing devices, putting to use some of the solid state (LED) lighting technology I have been developing over the last couple of years. Here is one floor standing cantilevered lamp design. A work in progress, it stands 5.5 feet tall.
LED-based, cantilevered floor standing lamp



Still life with epoxy resin and glass fiber, fire escape. These spires were an early attempt at a fiberglass and epoxy resin lighting device, lit internally. They failed as the intended object, but are a reminder that one must continue to develop regardless. I am glad I didn't toss this into a dumpster months ago. Although the creation of this object was not, these photos, as are some of my recent postings here, a tribute to the late Christopher Hoff. He was a great human, a wonderful person, and friend. Much of my present experience is affected by his memory. Thank you, Christopher, for your existence as an artist, and a caring human being.
still life with epoxy resin

still life with epoxy resin



I love finding hidden under-layers of text or images in collage art. Or, in any art. Here, a post card I made during a collage session with Tommy. Included is a lovely hydro-electric power plant, apparently in Canada. The text: "Another vast hydro-electric project nears completion near Queenstown, Ontario. This is the Candian and American plant on the Niagra River. Notice the electric pylons by the foreground which will distribute the power..."
layers of text and images

layers of text and images



Some beautiful new (well, vintage. but useful) test equipment: a Tektronix 7633 Analog Oscilloscope, and nice old signal generator. Unfortunately, the signal generator only outputs a wobbly ~1KHz sine wave. This is likely the reason why it ended up at the Goodwill bins.The scope, however, is in working condition.
Tektronix 7633 analog oscilloscope and signal generator

Also, my Amaryllis decided to bloom this year. It's over three feet tall, quite a magnificent flower. 3d gimbal in the background.Amaryllis in bloom

And finally, a sunny day's still life on Firecat's dash. Firecat displays a still life on his dash



This marvelous boredom that is in all things, this sunny seclusion, this halfheartedness and drowsiness beneath the green, this melancholy, these legs, whose legs, mine? Yes. I'm too indolent to make observations, I gaze down at my legs and march onward.

- Robert Walser


I haven't posted any of my "work-work" material here. About six years ago I started the company GLI Interactive with Luke Tokheim, and since then we have been developing, manufacturing and selling inertial sensing hardware and software. The main product that we sell is an inertial measurement unit, or IMU, named MotionNode. The following video is a short demo of the device. In the demo, I rotate a single MotionNode IMU in multiple axes of motion. The MotionNode Viewer application is running in the background on my laptop PC, displaying the real-time orientation output of the MotionNode USB device, and some of the raw accelerometer sensor data.

The MotionNode IMU device uses integrated MEMS triaxial accelerometer, gyro, and magnetometer sensors to generate a global quaternion output. This output orientation is in a global frame of reference relative to gravity and the earth's magnetic field. To find out more about this device or the other technology developed and manufactured by GLI Interactive, please visit

(yes, it is my hand performing the rotations. I should have held off on the coffee that morning)


I'm visiting my parents in California at present, and I'm amazed at the vivid colors of blooming flowers this late in the season.

58X44HTPLT Pallet wood chest

Also pictured: some literary treasures from a local library sale. I love library book sales; an entire bag of books for only $5. I'm especially excited about André Gide's The Counterfeiters, and Ivan Turgenev's Fathers and Sons.

library sale treasures

Despite the convenience of using an e-book reader such as a Kindle or Nook, I hope to always have a bookshelf (or access to a bookshelf) of physical, tangible novels.

For me, the experience of reading a bound book on paper just cannot be replicated in e-book format. That is, it cannot be replicated until e-books can be delivered in a physical device which mimics a real, tangible, bound book filled with paper. Neal Stephenson, I think, is on the same page (no pun intended). His book The Diamond Age: or, A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer presents just such a technology. It is science fiction, but I don't doubt that some elements of the nano-assembler-based realm of technology will one day come to pass. I hope to be around during that era, as it will bring many societal and personal benefits and consequences.

On the subject of digitization of printed media, and the coming "obsolescence" of the printed novel, Vernor Vinge presents a thought-provoking exposition on the subject in his book Rainbows End. One major plot and philosophical element in this work is the scanning and shredding of physically printed media in libraries, and the consequence of this action. Centralized, digital dissemination of information is an interesting idea, but opens up the possibility for censorship, class-based limitations in freedom of information, irreversible history-alteration based on power, and many other negative effects. From a bibliophile standpoint alone, the idea of shredding (or burning) of books is a very sad one, regardless of the reason.

It's interesting to read about the destruction of media in US history as well, a perfect example being Anthony Comstock's New York Society for the Suppression of Vice.Comstock had a Victorian moral world-view, and used his position as a US Postal Inspector to censor "obscene, lewd, or lascivious" material, which included literature, images, and information regarding birth control. He persuaded US Congress to pass the Comstock Law, which made gave him federal mandate to continue his destruction of books and media, and lead to the prosecution, incarceration (and sometimes suicide) of many US citizens. His article, "Morals Versus Art" (1887) is an interesting read, and seems to lay some of the foundation on which current US obscenity law is based.

Let's hope that such a social, political, and commercial climate does not find its way back into modernity; information and its distribution should remain free.

Suppression of Vice


The pallet wood chest of drawers is complete, including original wood-burned detail of pallet serial number/sizing, 58x44HTPLT. Drawer depth is 16", with respective drawer heights of 8", 12", and 16".

58X44HTPLT Pallet wood chest
58X44HTPLT Pallet wood chest
58X44HTPLT Pallet wood chest
58X44HTPLT Pallet wood chest


A chest of drawers from the 'salvaged' pallet wood is coming along. The drawers are next, followed by installing a permanent led wireless luminaire within the orb.

Pallet wood chest of drawers, work in progress.  with orb.


The Sun is an amazing celestial object, and is the closest example to a perfect sphere in our planetary system. Sol's near-perfection as a sphere is due to its extreme amounts of mass, which causes an extremely high gravitational pull toward its center. According to NASA's findings from its RHESSI spacecraft (2008), its radius was found to diverge from a perfect sphere by only 0.001%. Fortunately, my (goodwill) bins copy of Rand McNally's Concise Atlas of the Universe has us covered with a perfect 1970s diagram of the sun.

Sol, Concise Atlas of the Universe


I came upon the beautiful translucent plastic sphere, or orb, depicted below, in my travels today, and it now finds itself in my possession. This evening I began processing/thinking again about some of the importance of spheres to me, both visually and semantically. Since high school physics class, I have been interested in the history of astronomy (thank you, Steve Brehmer), and the individual scientists and philosophers within its field of study.

It remains a strange idea to me that up until the 1500s, scientists and philosophers believed in a geocentric model. In this model, the stars, planets, and other celestial objects were thought to rotate around the earth upon solid, concentric spheres.  Copernicus introduced the heliocentric model in 1532 with his De revolutionibus orbium coelestium, and Galileo presented more evidence to the Catholic Church in 1610, for which the heliocentric theory was denounced, after which Galileo was punished by the church, being forced to live under house arrest for the rest of his life.  Another really cool astronomer named Tycho Brahe (who, on a side note, had his nose cut off in a duel, after which he replaced it with one of a shiny metal variety!) was the first to successfully challenge the "solid celestial orb" theory. Later in the 1600s, Kepler showed that the planet's trajectories are not perfect spheres, but ellipses.

Back in 2001, I created a short 3d animated film called Gjenta, which featured a bleak landscape of giant rolling spheres, containing blind travelers within. It was a surprise to me to later gaze upon the cover of the future dystopia-inspired album Deltron 3030, which depicts a similar theme, of future travelers in a giant sphere. This was the first time I understood that pictorially, spheres have great significance to at least a sampling of individuals.

Spheres have always attracted philosophers as a symbol of perfection. I think that most mathematicians would concur, that spheres and their 2d-projection of circles are a great example of the elegance of math, and its application in the physical world. So, here's to you spheres. You are beautiful and have captivated my attention for today.

images below are Kepler's diagram of Celestial Spheres (Mysterium Cosmographicum, 2nd ed., 1621) and an illustration of geocentric celestial spheres from Peter Apian's Cosmographia (1539). As usual, see the wikipedia entry

a 2-foot plastic orb
Kepler's celestial spheres

Gjenta from Erik Bakke on Vimeo.

As I'm on the subject of spheres, here is a repost of my short 3d animation Gjenta. In the Norwegian language, Gjenta means "Repeat." I made this short animation while I was working at ILM between 2001 and 2002. It's about the repetition of daily life, and the seemingly difficult means and methods of breaking away to find your own set of routines, rules; a system of living with value. Years later, the ideas behind this animation still ring true in my philosophy of living. I also feel content in that many other authors, artists, and animators have taken the subject to be one of importance throughout the years. Jan Svankmajer's "Etc" is one of my favorite examples of the subject's use in film.

Although the animation is clumsy (it was done tediously, by hand!), and there are many technical flaws in the rendering and musical performance (cello intonation, etc), I am very happy to have made this piece. It was accepted and featured in the SIGGRAPH 2002 Electronic Theater.

This version has been re-encoded from the original source at 1080p. If you want to watch it in HD resolution, please make sure to click the "HD" icon at the bottom of the Vimeo window, and I would recommend to watch it in full-screen mode.

The creation process of Gjenta was also featured on the NRK (Japanese television) show Digital Stadium. My interview and some shots of my work at Industrial Light and Magic are part of the show. You can watch it here.


Another rotary flip clock conversion, front and back. This one is a little mossy.

analog dial/flip clock
analog dial/flip clock


I made this clock for my friends Liberty and Jake, comprised of the innards of an old analog clock , and a new housing made of remnants of barn wood. The analog clock of this design uses a clever mechanism to turn each digit place on a dial of six faces, while flipping digits by a little plastic cam/lever on the back of the dial. Second only to the analog clock of non-rotary flip design, this is my favorite type of clock.

analog dial/flip clock


The pallets have been put to use, in the first of a series of furniture pieces. The initial item is a book shelf, measuring 80x43x13 inches. The frame is pallet wood, and the shelf material is knotty pine, stained with eco treatment (a grey patina).

pallet wood shelf
pallet wood shelf


This beautiful shard of railroad tie was found amongst the Alaskan Way viaduct construction zone. Needless to say, it is now a part of the growing railroad tie shard collection.

Railroad tie shard
Railroad tie shard

I finally disassembled a load of old, weathered pallets for a free supply of boards to use in furiture construction. I will use most of these as a facade for a new book shelf, chest of drawers, and a mobile desk on large casters. More images to come...

dismantled, weathered pallets

My stairwell, a dark night.

my dark stairwwell


This pretty pair was likely once a singular piece, but the machinations of human-made machinery and the natural process of entropy have taken their course. Thus, they were separated, as are most physical objects in the course of existence. But philosophy and metaphors aside, these two beautiful chunks of railroad tie originate in Georgetown, by the... railroad tracks. I just couldn't leave them behind. I recently decided they would look great posing in my hallway. They will become either the base for a new led-luminaire-based lamp design, or just remain as they are.

Railroad tie fragment pair posing

A few months ago, I found out that a Core 2 duo upgrade for my old laptop would only cost ~$30, and so... computer explosion. It was fun taking it apart; I'm amazed at the engineering and design process which allows the placement of so many components into an enclosure of such a small form factor. The copious use of heat pipes is impressive. Despite the bad rep it sometimes gets, I think Dell is still my favorite laptop maker, in terms of the ratio of cost vs performance.

Exploded Dell Inspiron 1720

These are Phillips Luxeon Rebel warm white LEDs. Despite their minimal size (only a few millimeters in length and width), they provide an amazing amount of light. Each luminaire holds 12 Luxeon Rebel leds, for a total light output of ~800 Lumens. Newer batches of Rebel leds are more efficient; with the newest parts, each luminaire will output over 1200 Lumens of warm white light with a CRI of 85-90. This is on par with a 100 Watt incandescent bulb, and the light has a similar quality to a halogen bulb.

Luxeon Rebel LEDs, ready for solder reflow

Some of my old objects: projectors and an adding machine.

old objects: projectors and an adding machine.


My reading list now includes Han Solo at Stars' End (thanks, Razi). The cover is perfect. Just look at Han and Chewbacca's delicate feet!

Han Solo At Star's End


On my way home from the land of Ballard, I chanced upon some .75 x 2 inch weathered planks. They came with me, needless to say. I was surprised to find them without oil stains or the usual nasty sludge attached to such cast-off piles of useful wood material. Likely from the floorboards of an old sea (or lake) going vessel, these 16 foot planks will become a part of some new furniture and lighting apparatuses in the works.

ballard boards, gleaned from a discard pile.
ballard boards, gleaned from a discard pile.

2011. 01

I only have this end shot, but this is a 2.5x6 foot work table for Razi, made of reclaimed wood. The top surface was from an old hand cart I found at the ReStore in Ballard.

end view of a work table for Razi

2011. 01

Salvaged industrial hooks. Just have to find a use for them...

some salvaged industrial hooks some salvaged industrial hooks

2011. 01

I found these washers scattered amongst some puddles under the Alaskan Way Viaduct near my apartment. Puddle washers...

washers I found under the viaduct washers I found under the viaduct

2011. 01

This is my bike. I stripped down an old $20 centurion frame and clear coated it, bought a coaster wheel set on craigslist, and a chain. It's not perfect, but it's fun to ride.

trusty steed


I love the forest, and decided to make a chandelier which would fit well in a wooded scene. The main body is made of branches from a tree felled by wind in the international district, harvested sphagnum moss, and wire. The dangling "spores" are made of spiky seed-pods I found in Georgetown, 1W Luxeon Rebel LED luminaire modules of my own design, and diffusers comprised of epoxy resin with thickening agent and glass microballoons.

forest chandelier construction forest chandelier construction forest chandelier construction forest chandelier, completed


A three dimensional motorized gimbal, with no steel parts (with exception of the motorized servo gear boxes). It is a little bit under-powered, but so far I have not located stronger servo motors. The next version may use AC or BLDC motors with rotary encoders for smoother operation with higher torque output.

a motorized 3d gimbal I built. box construction for modular cube shelving unit


I decided in mid-2010 to design some modular shelving in my apartment, which is a live/work environment. I ended up creating a grid design of 4x4 1.5x1.5 foot plywood boxes. The frame is 2x4s with shelves of .75 inch pine, and I added a facade of reclaimed barn wood to complete the shelving unit. I didn't have clamps at the time, so I used some of my old cast iron sewing machines during the box construction.

box construction for modular cube shelving unit, sewing machine clamps modular cube shelving unit, completed modular cube shelving unit, completed


This is a luminaire module I designed, capable of luminous output similar to a 60 Watt incandescent bulb. The CRI output is 85, with a warm white color temperature of 2600K. This image shows the module without a required thin heat sink attached to the back surface. The heat sink only adds less than 1cm in thickness to the module, allowing for a very nice and thin final luminaire form factor.

The module also includes a proprietary 2.4GHz wireless communication system of my design, to allow for networking of the lighting modules once installed, via computer interface or touch pad device.

LED luminaire module, 60 watt incandescent replacement.


I found a "broken" 720p lcd tv on craigslist for $20. It turned out that the power supply had some leaking electrolytic capacitors. Ordered some replacements from Digikey, and replaced the bad caps. This is the broken out power supply. $30 tv = good deal.

fixing a plasma tv power supply, replacing leaking caps. fixing a plasma tv power supply, replacing leaking caps.


Surface mount integrated circuits are great. I use them in almost all of my circuit designs, as they allow for a nice and tidy, small board design. Unfortunately, many of these chips are damaged during soldering if they have been stored in a humid atmosphere for more than a week or two. To prevent solder damage, one must bake the chips at a low temperature for many hours to remove any water that may have condensed inside of the chip. These are some MEMS gyros and magnetometers from prototype inertial measurement units prior to baking.

baking SMD MEMS components, moisture content too high.


My dad gave me this amazing chess set which he bought in Mexico (or Texas) in the 60s. The pawns are killer.

amazing chess set from my dad, origin: Mexico, 1960s amazing chess set from my dad, origin: Mexico, 1960s amazing chess set from my dad, origin: Mexico, 1960s



I became really interested in high voltage "Nixie" tubes for a bit. These were the standard display device for numeric readouts in old machines and lab equipment, prior to the invention of the light emitting diode. Basically, a Nixie tube consists of 10 cathodes in the shape of numeric digits (0-9), a common anode wire mesh which surrounds the digits, all encased in a glass tube with pins to access anode and cathodes digits. The tube is evacuated of atmospheric gasses and replaced with neon gas and sometimes a bit of argon. When a high voltage is applied across the anode and a cathode digit, that digit discharges and forms a plasma, which provides a nice warm orange-reddish glow in the shape of the digit.

I have various nixie tubes, including NL-840, and NL-5440A (shown below), which I've put into use as clocks.

Nixie control module, with some posing tubes Nixie control module, operating


IN-12A Nixie tubes ordered from Russia. These don't glow quite as nicely as the American National NL tubes, but they are much more affordable.

Some Nixies I ordered (from Russia) Some Nixies I ordered (from Russia)


IN-12A Nixie modular control board with real-time clock firmware.

Another modular Nixie control board.


Some late night horse painting...

late night horse painting


I found this old slide projector at the Goodwill Bins, one of my favorite places in Seattle. It seems to be from the 1950s or thereabout.

old 1950s slide projector.  Really great object. old 1950s slide projector.  Really great object.


In May I recorded a sound design / music / art project Ulven at Louella Cabin in the Olympic National Forest. I had some self portrait fun in the woods surrounding the cabin. The peninsula is a beautiful, magical place.

Louella Cabin in Olympic penninsula.  Recording Ulven album, fun in the woods.

The final product of this project was a 6-track disk and hand screen printed cd pouches for the Ulven album, which recounts some sensations and experiences from the viewpoint of a single wolf. . You can download the tracks at the Ulven website.

Louella Cabin in Olympic penninsula.  Recording Ulven album, fun in the woods.


Aubrey, Amaryllis, Razi, and I went on a Christmas tree hunting expedition which took us all the way to North Bend. It was a fine day...

christmas tree hunting with Razi, Amaryllis, and Aubrey christmas tree hunting with Razi, Amaryllis, and Aubrey


I designed this steel throne back in 2005, at the Fire Art center in Chicago. It is made entirely of plate steel, and the seat is made of re-purposed leather jackets I cut into strips. This is a photo shoot for my friend Katie Papusza, who designed a line of bird-inspired dresses. Photography is by Elizabeth Raab.

dress: Papusza Couture, throne: Erik Bakke, photography: Elizabeth Raab. dress: Papusza Couture, throne: Erik Bakke, photography: Elizabeth Raab. dress: Papusza Couture, throne: Erik Bakke, photography: Elizabeth Raab. dress: Papusza Couture, throne: Erik Bakke, photography: Elizabeth Raab. dress: Papusza Couture, throne: Erik Bakke, photography: Elizabeth Raab.


A late night work session.

late night at my apartment, work time.


Early attempts at a high brightness LED control module for use in Luminaires. These are cheap copies of Phillips Luxeon star LEDs I bought from a Chinese manufacturer. Lesson learned: you get what you pay for. Poor color temperature, likely due to the phosphors used in the lens. Phil ips newest Rebel LEDs are so much better (as of 2011). I now use only Phil ips Luxeon Rebel LEDs for my luminaire designs.

early high power LED control testing


Some gear motors. I was planning to use these in the design of some kinematic clothing, inspired by Hussein Chalayan's shape-changing dresses shown at Paris Fashion Week in October 2006. This project is now on the back-burner.

some nice little gear motors


Tugboat the cat, posing.

my cat, Tugboat, posing.


A lit shelf I designed. Materials are 18-gauge steel, steel tube stock, canvas, dyed sisal fiber twine, and a diffuser cast in polyester resin, chopped glass fiber, glass microballoons, and thixo hp (fumed silica) thickener. Light source is fluorescent tube, but will be replaced with LED luminaire modules eventually.

lit shelf - reclaimed steel, polyester resin, fiberglass, cotton canvas.


Various tables, lamps, and other furniture I designed and built.

Steel and compressed paper table I constructed. Steel and compressed paper table I constructed. Steel and compressed paper table I constructed, with lamp. steel lamp, Infrared sensor on/off switch. a great Pacific Industrial salvage find - Toledo industrial scale. self portrait.


A steel throne. I designed and built this piece at the Fire Art Center in Chicago. It is constructed of plate steel and leather. The leather is reclaimed from used leather coats cut into strips.

Steel throne, leather strap seat, created at Fire Arts in Chicago. Steel throne, leather strap seat, created at Fire Arts in Chicago. Steel throne, leather strap seat, created at Fire Arts in Chicago. Steel throne, leather strap seat, created at Fire Arts in Chicago.

2004 (and earlier)

When I worked at ILM, I took part in free life sculpture sessions, and learned a little bit about figure modeling.

figure sculpting.  modeled in plastelina figure sculpting.  modeled in plastelina figure sculpting.  modeled in plastelina figure sculpting.  modeled in plastelina figure sculpting.  modeled in plastelina figure sculpting.  modeled in plastelina elf figure sculpting.  modeled in sculpy elf figure sculpting.  modeled in sculpy some of my life drawing practice, pen and ink
copyright © erik bakke, 2011.