The Project

 Quakebot is a data driven visualization and interactive sculpture, built as of a collaboration with other artists at San Jose State University for the Maker Faire 2012, as well as submitted work at SJSU student galleries. It is a 5ft wide x 5ft long laser cut outline of California filled with colored sand. Data coming from a USGS feed is translated onto the soft bed of material with light agitators that mark the sand bed beneath.

 The construction of the Quakebot is done as a collaborative work with artists: Michael Garcia, Scott Blackwell, and Cristobal Lozano, with additional volunteer labor and expertise from friends and peers from the SJSU CADRE new media laboratory. Most of the fabrication was done at SJSU CADRE new media lab. The electronic components, such and microcontrollers and drivers, are primarily installed by Scott with other various student and faculty members. The bottom map structure was made by Cristobal and all supporting computer designs were joinly created.

  The project is to be installed at the Bay Area Maker Faire 2012, as well as SJSU galleries later that year and as a new fixture in the CADRE laboratory. The translation of digital earthquake seismographic information into a mapped physical medium encourages conversation between various emerging technological concepts, such as data visualization, human digital desensitization, and environmental-computational integration.

 The tabletop sculpture is fabricated from layers of laser cut MDF in the outline of our state. A sunken California bed is laid out on a flat surface with a XY plotter mounted above the map. The device uses a twitter feed from to map out earthquake activity within the state on to the sand bed below the framework.

  During the Maker Faire 2012, Quakebot was adjusted to use 1.0 or greater magnitude as to clearly define each epicenter, about 20-50 quake in the state per day.  Most of the materials were made with scaleable, T-Slot extruded aluminium with the specific idea of reusing the CNC framework for future projects in CADRE.

Project Gallery

More Info


Special thanks to Carl Stutter, who not only made a beautiful instructable which we based our project around, but also was kind enough to answer some last minute questions fine tuning the project. You can view his website below. It uses the same design to control a online sandbox! Below is a short list of contact information for the artists that participated in this project.

  • Scott Blackwell:
  • Michael Garcia:
  • Christobal Lozano:


© All media is presented as educational material for San Jose State University courses.