A successful trip to JT

The May 2019 trip to Joshua Tree California went very well. A special thanks to Timothy Nero for his help. The Mansard roof was strapped to the top of the car and made a fun topic of conversation to other travelers as we rode out to the Mojave desert. The accompanying photos show the mounting of the roof onto the tower and subsequent paint work. We also had time to add some of the exterior equipment details. The unpainted panel is covering the entrance to the viewer hallway that will be opened with the installation is ready for the public. The next step will be to get a set of solar panels and batteries donated, installed and the research station (ready now at my studio in Gallup) shipped out and hooked up. Donations will be gladly accepted. Please contact

Steve painting upper tower.jpg
Steve painting tower.jpg
Mansard roof profile finished.jpg

Photos courtesy of Timothy Nero

Trip to Joshua Tree to work on KARF Shed 2, May 2019

I will be making the trek to Joshua Tree this May to work more on Shed 2. The plan is to transport the Mansard roof section there and install it on the tower. The Shed will get painted and some of the exterior electronic equipment will get mounted. The trip coincides with the High Desert Soundings experimental music festival in nearby Wonder Valley that will take place May 10th and 11th. Link:

Short video of Research Station 2

LED Chaser Tube

I saw this really cool thing in a video about early computers that used vacuum tubes to make calculations. One type of tube had a ring of lights inside the end of it that chased each other in a sequential circle giving the impression of rotation. 

I’ve always been charmed by the look of glass vacuum tubes from an early age when much of the electronics in things like radios and televisions used them. If you took the back cover off while the device was on you’d see a little forest of small glass bulbs, glowing white/amber. These were accompanied by resisters, capacitors and coils, all arranged on a brown board with lots of wires going all over. There was a smell of something hot and sort of melting. The warmth from the tubes was seeping out right at you.

Back in the 1980’s I found some large vacuum tubes (used in radio transmitters) at a flea market in San Jose California that I made into decorative lamps, by mounting the tubes above the big 6 amp transformers needed to light up the plate inside them and make them glow. They used a huge amount of power, and got very hot, but they sure looked beautiful. I experimented with a way to try and make them look beautiful like that, but not draw so much power. Using a small torch I melted a tiny spot on the side of the glass tube. The vacuum inside the tube caused the glass to melt inwards until it eventually burst inwards with a hole just big enough to wiggle a tiny “grain-of-wheat” light bulb into.  These are the little lights you often find in model railroads that only need 6 volts and very little current. If you held the tube so the wires were behind it, it looked just like a normally powered-up tube, but didn’t get hot at all. An electronics engineer friend in the Silicon Valley saw one of these on a sculpture I was making and commented on how cool the vacuum tube looked. He started looking all a round for the big 6 amp transformer that should have been there to give the tube its power. “Now wait a minute…There’s no…(still nosing all around) wait, you can’t just…” “All right (resignedly) how did you get that tube to light up?” I clued him into my little secret. “Looks convincing, doesn’t it?” “Yes, it does!” he said laughing.

The tubes I saw with the chaser lights in the video about early computers must have had small lights in them too, possibly neon. I decide to make a similar object by using a decade counter chip run by another chip that provides a clock signal. In place of lights, I assembled a rig of bright red LEDs. I had to cut the tube away from its base and cut out the original electronics to fit the LED assembly in their place. I’m really happy with the result! 

An "Electronic Document"

I make what I call "electronic documents" that are physical pages that go in some of the binders on each of the research stations. I use a heavy card materials, sometimes just paper, and write, draw, and collage marks and materials on them. Then a layer of working electronic displays run by CMOS integrated circuits. Then more layers of papers, tape, scraps get added  to make a rich, layered, textured artwork. This gets placed into a 3 ring binder that is specially rigged with a power cable. The video is of one such "electronic document" being completed on my workbench.

Shed 2 basic construction completed

I made the trip to Joshua Tree and completed the basic structure for Shed 2 over the week of March 17-25, 2018. A special thanks to Aimee, for assisting at the beginning of the week when I needed extra hands and Victor Vincente of America who also lent a hand and took lots of documentation photos for me. The next trip will be to deliver Research Station 2 and the Mansard roof and do the finish work on the shed.

A very special thanks to my collector, Linda who hosted me and has provided the site!

KARF:JT Shed 2 under construction amongst Creosote bushes, March 2018, Joshua Tree, CA.

Rescheduled trip to Joshua Tree

A new trip to Joshua Tree has been arranged for March 17-24th, 2018. I will be heading out to start construction of Shed 2.  The Mansard roof and the Research Station 2 will be delivered and installed at a later time. I am looking for volunteers to help with some of the construction.  Some compensation is available. If you are interested please

1/30/18 Trip to Joshua tree Cancelled

Due to illness and difficult scheduling the trip to construct Shed 2 in Joshua Tree has been cancelled.  Information about a re-scheduled trip will be posted when possible.

Sound-scape for KARF:JT

Trip to Joshua Tree for construction of Shed 2

February 3rd through 9th myself and a crew of two other volunteers will  head for Joshua Tree, California to construct Shed 2. The completed Mansard roof section and Research Station 2 (with a custom wooden crate built around it) will go with us. Final touches are being made now to the station and logistics for how work will go are being arranged now. When I get back, I'll post photos of the shed's construction. Special thanks to those of you who have contributed in the way of cash, materials and time so far for this artwork. I am eager to be out in the Mojave Desert again to work on KARF:JT!

Winter months are a good time to work on indoor aspects of the KARF installation. Lately I have been building the sound files that will make up the audio-scape that will accompany the sounds created by the electronic devices on Station 2 (KARF:JT). I have been learning Logic Pro X and have a pretty good start on basic audio tracks that include voice and electronic sound effects.  I have used my own voice for some of the tracks that give the impression of radio transmissions coming in over speakers of researchers discussing aspects of equipment and experiments that are going on. I alter many of the voice tracks so they don't all sound like me. Other tracks are electronic sounds that I create with other apps and recordings that I have made over the years.  Some are as far back as when I was a teen building my first crude synthesizer circuits and making recordings of their sounds on small reel-to-reel magnetic tape recorders. The finished sound-scape will play from a CD built into the research station and will play through speakers also mounted on the station. I will strive to create a balance between the ambient sounds of the devices on the station and the recorded sound-scape.

Progress on Shed 2 (KARF:JT) Kanobis Amplifier Research Facility: Joshua Tree


Shed 2 plans are being finalized. One feature that will likely be included is a small tower at one corner of the structure that will have a Second Empire style Mansard roof. Kinda like the ones often depicted on haunted houses. It is fairly small architecturally, only about 3' x 3' x 3'. It is made of a wood frame covered with roofing felt, sheet aluminum and hundreds of hand cut fish-scale shaped metal shingles.  Shed 2 on-site construction is planned for this winter, meanwhile the Mansard roof section is being built in Gallup for transport once Shed 2 is nearing completion.

Site for KARF in Southern California



A site has been selected and confirmed for KARF in Southern California. It will be located on the outskirts of the town of Joshua Tree. It will be designated KARF:JT for Kanobis Amplifier Research Facility: Joshua Tree. Plans have begun on the design of Shed 2 that will house one of the research stations and a small scale model made.