The Story of the BEAST
One day I asked myself, “What is the largest possible flame effect I can transport and carry by myself?” The answer to that question was The BEAST. Capable of immolating 100 lbs. of propane in a matter of hours, the BEAST is the most fuel-hungry flame effect at Töad Meädow and fires the most giantest flames. The BEAST originally used a manually-operated valve to release its fire, but I wanted a new challenge and decided to experiment with an electronically-controlled firing system. So I approached the nice folks at Buffalo Lab and described my goals to them. Within an hour, they had a basic circuit designed and a program to run it. We tested it in the parking lot that evening.
After that, Victor Konshin wrote a more fully-featured program and Scott Vader refined the circuit design. Thanks to them helping me, I became interested in electronic circuits and computer programming.
The City of Night arts festival heard of BEAST 2.0 and wanted to include it as an exhibit in the 2013 event. To display it in such a public fashion, though, would require asking permission from Buffalo overlords, something that I’m not used to doing. Nevertheless, Buffalo’s fire department proved decent to work with. The chief had me bring the BEAST to the fire station and demonstrate it for him before he agreed to issue a permit.
I’m the only person in Buffalo history that has been officially permitted to run an amateur flame effect.
Technical details and optional features
The BEAST sports three 20 lb. propane tanks as propane accumulators. These tanks are manifolded together via 3/4″ outlets. The outlets join the manifold, which is a 1 1/2″ pipe nipple. The barrel is 1 1/2″ pipe and firing is done via 12 volt solenoid valve.
The BEAST has a removable barrel for easy transport. There’s an optional barrel and pilot light assembly with a 45° angle on the end. This optional barrel is ideal for directing the fire closer to people’s heads, leading to a more fun and intense experience.
The electronics are made of an Arduino and custom built circuit. They’re powered by a 12 volt deep cycle battery. The circuit is programmed so that when the button is pressed, the BEAST will emit one of ten preprogrammed fire sequences.
Planned future upgrades
- Modify the electronics and programming so that when people press the button, there’s a 5% chance that they’ll receive an electric shock instead of triggering the fire.