The Electrobite Olenoides

Sarriugarteis (Odontochile) trilobite

Kyrsten and I started on this project last Aug 2009 and finished it just in time for Burning Man this year. We took an old electric wheel chair and made it into a prehistoric creature known as a trilobite. I enjoyed working on another great project with my wife (these project keep us on our toes, I hear building a house together works too). This is the 3rd car we have made the 1st being the SS Alpha Fox and the 2nd was the giant snail car the Golden Mean. The scale of this one was great and I’m really liking working with hand hammered sheet metal mixed with forged steel parts.

Boing Boing Video

by Xeni Jardin


Electrobite story from Boing Boing

by David Pescovitz

The first time we took it out to Burning Man


Dust free just out of the truck.


People would walk up and ask if it was remote controlled. When I pointed out the leather seat and the joy stick they couldn’t believe you could drive it. Lots of smiling faces when we let them try it out.


related links to the building of this creature


Flickr set

The construction phase of the Electrobite

Amy’s seat, Kyrsten’s lights, lots of sleeplittle nights and we are done! Off to BM to show it off tonight. I posted more picture to my flickr site. Looking forward to sitting in a chair and drinking beer for a week.



Patina is done and boy does it look great! We always have to pray to the patina gods before , but the problem this time was me grabbing the wrong chemical bottle. Little too brown for Kyrsten’s taste, but beautiful none the less.

Mike came by to wire up the lights last night, and Amy brought by the finnished seat… wow! I’m looking forward to seeing all the parts: eyes, seat, and lights together on the car at once.

More pictures



Up till 6am and all the fabrication work is done! Now for the patina, paint and lights.


New Picturesdsc_0456




Kyrsten’s rivets look great! All the forged textures and hand hammered sheet metal look great together. As I make something this complex it’s some times hard to see ahead to make sure it’s all going to work together. Today was one of those days that I felt it did. Might feel different once I turn it over and start on the tail but today the head worked for me. Kyrsten started on the lighting by building the battery box for the cutest little 12v 7amp hr gel cell. All it’s going to do is run LED so it should last the entire week for Burning Man. Had a minor time set back today when I had to visit the ER to have some metal removed from my eye. It was quiet there and we were back by lunch. Still a bit painful, but eyes heal fast.


sheet metal wood and a hammer


Can’t wait to see Tansy’s eyes in place and Amy’s leather seat!

More pictures here

Update!  There is a post with our progress here.

Just got this heavy duty outdoor electric wheelchair platform — and we want to make it into a giant ride-on Trilobite.  Can it be done?  We can only try!  It will be fabricated out of metal — of course.  And we hope to have fun with patinas and sculpting the segments into organic shapes (helloo english wheel!).  Andrew Scott has some fantastic trilobites sculpted out of gel PVC over a wire armature.  Here is his flickr stream.  And this fossil dealing site has wonderful examples for inspiration. Trilobites also have such variety; from simple symetrical medallions to ones with distinct hammer heads and tails and and long trailing side pieces that look straight out of HR Giger’s mind.   Biomechanical indeed.

When Kyrsten was 12 she walked along the tidal pools in Puerto Rico and turned over a large flat rock.  Underneath, were the hard symetrical  shells of an amazing prehistoric creature; but then they started to move.  These were not trilobites, but chitons.  They sure were amazing though, and made Kyrsten wonder about primative animals and the variety of arachnomorphs; horseshoe crabs and the prehistoric trilobites.
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