What is Pavo Concertus?

Pavo Concertus is... a mobile masterpiece.
At 12 feet tall, Pavo Concertus is all at once, a mobile instrument and a work of art. The pickup truck-turned peacock features a full octave of genuine antique organ pipes that are fully equipped with an array of music synchronized LEDs. The on-board organ has been graced by many a talented musician over the last year, much to the delight of onlooking spectators. The back of the tail fan features an LED equalizer synched to blaring speakers, the heart of our peacock. Our raucous roaming party has been known to shake up more than one neighbourhood.

Pavo Concertus is... a feat of engineering.
We are no gods, and transforming an old truck into a musical peacock is often laughable. From mounting pipes to fast Fourier transformations to all-night solder parties, creating this masterpiece has been an enlightening experience for us all. When you chance upon our peacock on the street, not only may you be impressed by our hot light tricks and fancy beats, but also by our pages of drawings, piles of scrapped prototypes, and hours of late-night electrical troubleshooting.

Pavo Concertus is... a fellowship of like-minded individuals.
From its inception, this project has brought out a little bit of crazy in all who heard about it. The team has drawn in the best, brightest, and most dedicated individuals, simply through the grapevine. But the Pavo Concertus network extends far beyond those who meet regularly to hammer out ideas. It extends to all those who saw it grow, who altruistically lent their knowledge, and who began to connect to the local maker community. Who are you and what are you making? We canít wait for you all to meet each other.

Pavo Concertus is... an idea.
The project was born out of an idea that building something inherently frivolous, unprofitable, yet undeniably awesome is not only possible, but worthwhile. The project was built to pioneer the dawning of a new cultureóa culture where ambitious neighbours and educated hobbyists come together to bring each othersí ideas to fruition. Start with an idea; ideas are bulletproof.


Thank you to our supporters!

It takes a village to raise a peacock:
The following organizations have graciously supported Pavo Concertus from its infancy. Without these numerous donations of space, services, and materials, Pavo Concertus would surely not be what it is today.

beakerhead protospace foothills piano phidgets fantom tuning investyyc PKSound Discover Scoperta awesomecalgary mercedes
The pipes come from a pipe organ built in the early 1900s for a church in Winnipeg. That organ was moved to Knox Presbyterian about 5 years ago and those particular pipes were not required. The builder of the pipes was Casavant Freres LP of St. Hyacinthe, Quebec. The church is very pleased that such a unique and innovative use was found for these pieces.

Thank you to everyone who supported us through Invest YYC. We would like to recognize the following individuals for their very generous contributions:

  • Xiao Phing Lim
  • CK Chua
  • Dennis Wong
  • M. Chan
  • Claudia Chan
  • Hafiz Datoo
  • Carmen Maier
  • Bhagavath Sreekumar
  • Darrel and Laura Purdy
  • Marjan Eggermont

Pavo Concertus is strictly a volunteer project. Financial support is used to purchase the truck, additional tools and equipment, electrical components, and other raw materials. Because of the critical aesthetics of this project, the team would like to avoid placing large decals with sponsor logos on the vehicle. As a substitute, website advertising can be offered, as well as logos on nameplates that are well integrated into the steampunk theme.

Meet Our Team

At its core, the engine of Pavo Concertus is its dedicated team of driven individuals. Meet the entourage of engineers and audiophiles who brought Pavo Concertus from sketch to realization.


Isabel Chan

Isabel bought the unevolved version of Pavo Concertus with Ravi in the summer of 2013. She has a background in mechanical engineering, teaching science to children, and solar vehicles. Managing Pavo Concertus has honed her skills in budget balancing, part sourcing, advice seeking, contacting strangers, and the fine art of getting things done. Every passing day on the project, she learns more from each member of the powerhouse Pavo team.


Carmen Lau

Carmen has a background in mechanical engineering, loves art and being creative. With this project she was able to use and develop these skills to help design the finer details of this bird. From sketching the first drawings of Pavo Concertus; to getting a workout lifting and painting organ pipes; to designing and creating the feather details - Carmen has enjoyed the creativity, the enthusiasm and the passion the team has shown throughout this project.


Michael Purdy

After the amazing time that was Beakerhead 2013, Michael is super excited to continue his work with Pavo. He was thrilled to have learned as much as he did throughout the project last year - particularly regarding car electronics and project/time management. He comes from an electrical/biomedical engineering background, and was happy to have transformed his theoretical skills into technical ones. According to him the many late nights were well worth the turned heads and conversations with passersby. He is very excited about Calgary's growing engineering-projects community, and can't wait to collaborate with some new groups.


Bryan Guscott

Bryan is finishing up his electrical engineering degree at the University of Calgary and works on Pavo's electrical circuitry in his spare time. Infamous for clean, reliable wiring, and pulling overnight miracles, Bryan is a master conductor when it comes to Pavo's veins, arteries, and circuit diagrams.


Alan Yee

Alan graduated from the Electrical Engineering program at the University of Calgary. A Solar Car Alumni, Alan was the first to pilot Pavo's electrical team. Together with Ravi, he spent long hours reading manuals, removing screws from the dashboard and rewiring the alternator. Ask to see Alan's victory dance! Guaranteed to amuse.


Mike Paradis

Mike joined the Pavo team in July of 2013 programming the world's first organ pipe LED equalizer. Using his experience in electronic projects and knowledge from his computer engineering degree, he hopes to add some exciting new features and improved reliability to the electrical systems for this year's Beakerhead festival. He continues to make Pavo Concertus's future a bright one!


Ryan Choo

Ryan is a mechanical engineering graduate from the University of Calgary. He joined the team in July 2014 and has been helping out with various improvements to the art car, such as designing a DJ tabletop for the organ. In his spare time, Ryan enjoys photography and playing the piano. He is very excited to play Pavo Concertus in its full glory when it is ready for Beakerhead in September.


Ravi Mani

Ravi is a Communications and Marketing graduate from the University of Calgary. His ambitious attitude and fast fabrication launched Pavo from an idea into a reality. He is a strong believer in building a strong team and has a "Get'er done" approach to manufacturing. You'll find him showing off the body rework phases on Pavo's youtube channel.


Tannis Troyer

Tannis is a University of Calgary Kinesiology graduate with a passion for art, design, and technology. With a keen eye for good design and a job well done, Tannis logged the most hours reworking the truck body, welding, and constructing Pavo's glorified hood ornament. Tannis also enjoys learning web design, development, and computer programming. In fact, she is currently studying software development at SAIT!

Progress Updates

All we do is win. And solder. That too.

September was filled with far too much activity for a blog post, so let me catch you up. We manufactured a new nameplate for our doors which we got plasma cut under the guidance of the good gents at Protospace. We installed some of last year’s leds behind it to achieve a backlighting effect (yay recycling!).

This year’s led troubleshooting went far smoother than¬†last year’s, largely in part to added modularity allowing for rapid plugging in and out to hone in on problem sets.¬†This year, we however also learned a very valuable life lesson which is: just because you did something once, you cannot necessarily repeat that something again, much less do it better. Last year, we shorted the notes in each octave together in order to make any key trigger the lights on one pipe. This resulted in hearing¬†all C’s any time one C was pressed. This year we attempted to separate the sounds of each octave with crazy mad circuits. After ordering parts and putting in a lot of labour, we realized there was a logic error–resulting in all the notes being heard all the time, without any key being pressed. The second attempt involved putting an aluminum strip underneath the keys–we started this at about 7pm one day, and the next day at around 7pm realized we had made another fatal logic error resulting in the same epic fail. Our third attempt involved putting a thumbtack–yes a THUMBTACK underneath each key and hot gluing a wire to each key. Much to our surprise, this actually worked. A few more days of software untangling paid off in a fully functional lighting organ!

Late Night Rewiring

On the first day of Beakerhead, we visited Altadore school. Might I remind you that this is also the day of the infamous Calgary snow dump. A very electrically disheveled, dripping wet Pavo Concertus made its way through the downtown streets under the threatening arms of branches teetering far too low for a pipe organ to pass. The school visit was a success and we seemed to have a pretty impressive bird, even without our lights. Since our showing on Stephen Ave was cancelled, we were eager to get back to shop and squeeze in some more troubleshooting. As the snow melted later in the day, many of our electrical shorting issues seemed to melt away as well.

On the second day of Beakerhead it RAINED. We showed up on Stephen Ave and camped out under the TD Square +15 along with Daisy (EATArt Foundation) and Hippo Love anyways and it was a party and a half. There may or may not also have been a parade down the street.

Beakernight on Saturday was stunning. All of our hours paid off in lumens. We were the brightest object on the Stampede grounds (which is saying a lot if you saw what else was there!) I would say more, but I think the videos and photos say it all!

Oh look, here’s one:¬†The Evolution of Pavo ConcertusOn Little Big Street

Spirit Nest

spirit nest

This past week has been a hectic one trying to finish up many improvements to the vehicle before Beakerhead 2014 begins in less than a week! Rewiring the entire vehicle has been quite the feat! Above you will see only a small fraction of the total electrical labour involved in making seemingly minor improvements to the system. Some fruits of our labour are already beginning to show however. The truck is already more weatherproof (which the exception of the addition of a few more ungalvanized components) and held it’s own in the rain and wind on Monday and Tuesday. This week we are solidifying music, schedules, and anticipate troubleshooting our programs and circuits this weekend!

Want to find Pavo Concertus at Beakerhead? We’ll be one the move around the city, so make sure to check our schedule before setting out on a wild peacock chase!


This week granted us the gratifying fruition of many small projects including proof testing the fog duct, mounting new side panels (with backlighting!), and mounting profile lights on the head. As Beakerhead is about two weeks away, we are planning on mounting the organ pipes next week. We will need to haul hard over the next few days, but our planning, hard work, and experience from last year has put us in a great place. The advance in professional design has really made itself evident, particularly in mounting and wiring standards. We’ve got plug points everywhere for easy troubleshooting, and we’ve installed lights so we won’t have to do hookups in the dark when our bird looks best.IMG_1738

Meet Your Makers

The past few weeks have been productive ones consisting of soldering, crimping, and mounting the LED eyes. Being in our second year of operation, our team members often entertain the question: “But aren’t you done the project? What’s left to do?” Well our answer to that question is that “finishedness” is an unquantifiable metric in the eye of the beholder. As with many similar maker projects, we were scrambling to pull our circuit together hours before during the events we were scheduled to attend. Some elements such as our amazing LED equalizer were still not functional or performed inconsistently. We were troubleshooting incessantly during the week of Beakerhead due to insufficient insulation. Anyone who played our organ last year can tell you that we inadvertently shorted every 13th note together. This year, we are working to improve consistency and alleviate game-time anxiety. In doing so, we are also seizing the opportunity to throw in more lights (MOAR LITEZ!) and some aesthetic goodies.

The team is starting to feel the pressure now as we redesign the entire circuit, order new parts, and rework ideas that seemed great on paper, but unfeasible to execute. We’ve acquired some new members to assist with the workload and snack on gummy worms periodically.

Last Tuesday we took a break and hosted a steampunk photoshoot in the midst of the quickly accumulating chaos. We filled the Beakerhead garage with props and accessories and spent four hours getting our steam on. You can check out the results by visiting the League or Gallery pages of our website.





Indoor Sunglasses

LEDs 2013 Much improved!

This week was filled with excitement over a few new beginnings. The beginnings of Beakerhead 2014 are starting to show around the city with the emergence of graffiti, program announcements, and event planning. On the technical side, the new side-emitting LED strips that we’ve been working on procuring for the last month have arrived! You can see the type that we used last year on the left and the new set on the right. The new LEDs will mitigate a lot of the frustration experienced last year–mostly credited to insufficient waterproofing. But beware! The LED density of our new strips is about three times that of the old ones! These are super-bright! We will likely find ourselves wearing sunglasses in order to handle all them photons!

Dat Rack. Dem Pipes.


Last week, the Pavo team spent some time spring cleaning the nest by playing some real life Tetris with the organ pipes. But instead of having multiple brick types, we only had the long stick variety, so it was pretty easy to stack. Now our pipes are safe and secure on the wall and protected from the domino effect. With all the extra space we’ve made, we’re ready to bring Pavo out of hibernation!
In other news, we’ve been very busy negotiating a new set of LEDs with our friend Leo who is in China presently. These new LEDs will add a whole new level of robustness to our setup and resolve many of the electrical grounding issues that plagued us last year. Who knew mounting wires on metal organ pipes would short circuit everything? In the electrical upheaval, it seems also an opportune time to program in some new light tricks.
Have something else you’d like to see on Pavo this year? Now is the time to submit your requests, friends!

Hibernation and Moulting

Both Pavo and the team are taking some well deserved R&R this winter at chez Beakerhead. The pipes have been shed and graciously sheltered from the cold until we can waterproof the lights. A hectic month in September of being pushed to our creative and physical limits culminated in the reward of seeing Pavo lit up at Beakernight. We were graced by many an enthusiastic pianist, from inspired beginners to the band Arc Attack themselves. Let’s relive these glory days shall we?

In the past few months, the team has been literally tying up loose ends (of cables), finding a storage nest (easier said than done), and storming new awesome features for next year. Throughout the whole process, we are still meeting new inventive faces and enthusiastic Calgarians in our many interactions. Beakerhead couldn’t have chosen a better city to take flight. We can’t wait for you all to meet each other this year!

Blast Off! Pavo Concertus has taken to Calgary Streets

It has been a very busy time for us here at Pavo Concertus. Since our last update we have been going full speed ahead with getting Pavo to the finish line. The lead up to the Beakerhead launch consisted of many hours of welding, problem solving and troubleshooting.

We kicked off Beakerhead by ruffling feathers and strutting our stuff in Downtown Calgary on Stephen Avenue. Many of the onlookers sat at the restaurants and did their shopping on the nice, warm fall evening while we lit up the avenue in a spectacle of lights and sound. The people were all smiles and we were happy that Calgary  gave Pavo Concertus a warm welcome.

Once we finished up at Stephen Avenue the team packed up the truck and made our way over to Olympic Plaza to set the mood outside for patrons of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra. As we fanned out our organ pipes and powered up people began to pose in front of Pavo, taking pictures and asking us questions.  A young boy named Brandon enthusiastically took a seat and played a few songs on the piano for everyone! We especially enjoyed seeing the reaction of children to the giant peacock truck. Our team is in high spirits, and we thank Calgary and Beakerhead for allowing us to be a part of the show.


The past few weeks consisted of giving the truck a much needed makeover. This peacock now sports a black coat, soon to be detailed with gold and bronze. The now gold pipes, will fan out in two rows from the completed pipe mount. The pipes in the back row, which fan out considerably more, will rotate inward to ensure Pavo is street legal. ¬†To accomplish this, we will use a winch. ¬†A “peacock butt” chair was also constructed (inspired by the back view of a Peacock) and this is where our music man will sit to play the organ.

Thanks to the support of the community and Beakerhead, Pavo was able to purchase string LED lights, effectively liberating us from several long nights of soldering LEDs together.  One night was enough of that, but at least we had great home made pizzas in good company! Now our electrical team is busy programming and connecting wires to make the tail fan equalizer.

Media Updates:

We now have a facebook page! Check it out and like us, please! Pavo Concertus Facebook Page

Check out the article about us on the Schulich School of Engineering website!

Website updates:

Fixed!- you can now click on the gallery and front page thumbnails and our Flickr stream will open directly into a new window

Please visit the Beakerhead Event Calendar by clicking on the Beakerhead button on the front page!

Thank you to our newly added sponsor, Minute Muffler on 32nd Ave NE! Find the contact information by clicking the button on the “League” page.


Thanks again to all those who have supported us along the way! Your continued support is greatly appreciated. 

The Daily ‘Grind’

mount board 9381983790_ab6849b058_o

We literally operated the grinder almost every day this week. ¬†After measuring and cutting out all the pieces, then tacking them together with the welder, the pipe mount finally came into reality. ¬†What a satisfying experiencing to follow its development from brainstorm, to idea, to SolidWorks model, to paper and finally to see it “appear” (not without a strong effort from our mechanically inclined team) ¬†in front of us in real life. ¬†The team looks forward to this weekend when we will be materializing some electrical ideas as well.

Shout out to Protospace for your consistent support and for not only letting us use your tools but teaching us too! Thank you very much!

Grinding is fun.

8 Weeks ’til Beakerhead

Can you believe there are only 8 weeks left until the big event? So far this month, our electrical team has made great headway doing everything from getting dirty tracing wires under the hood and through the dashboard of the truck, to ordering materials and building an amplifier.  We have also welded some metal feathers to the truck  and have begun measuring the pipe mounting system and head piece, both scheduled for construction as soon as possible.  The time has come to turn our SolidWorks models into reality!

Please enjoy this video made of one of the build days:

Website Updates: We are currently updating our blog format. We apologize for any inconveniences that might occur during this time.


Keep Your Heads Up #ABflood

May we extend our sympathies to all those affected by the recent flooding in Southern Alberta.

Keep your heads up! As a project that relies on community support, we can testify to the positive spirit of Calgary and continue to be impressed by the willingness of Calgarians to help each other out. If you would like to volunteer your time or donate to help the recovery please visit YYC Helps.

As promised, we would also like to commemorate the Peacock that was lost during the flood from the zoo as a member of Pavo cristatus, a source of inspiration for our project.

Grow Calgary’s Culture With Us

We are now up on InvestYYC, a space where people can invest in creative projects and non-profit organizations. We aim to demonstrate creative design and engineering with Pavo Concertus Art Car, a musical peacock truck with an LED display tail fan made of organ pipes. ¬†Today, the sophistication of the tail fan was realized when we designed the brackets that will allow the organ pipes to open up into a fan from a street-legal vertical position. We hope that Pavo Concertus will not only excite as a visual and auditory spectacle, but that we will also be able to show case the electrical and mechanical engineering behind it, offering an educational component. ¬†If you are interested in helping bring our Art Car Pavo Concertus to the streets of Calgary, please visit our Invest YYC page by clicking on the button below, or by visiting “The League”.


Mocking Bird

Saturday we were lucky to catch most of the¬†sun beams that snuck through the clouds as we began “mocking up” Pavo. It was a relief to more accurately visualize what all of our planning has come to, up until this point. ¬† With everything in place, Pavo looked pretty awesome even without the accessories we will eventually add. ¬†Getting underway, we measured voltages, changed the truck battery, and recorded dimensions. We also captured some photos sure to inspire artists, musicians, and engineers alike! Check out the pictures below.

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 pavomay18005 pavomay18006



¬†The team is proud to be the recipient’s of this month’s Awesome Calgary funding! Ravi delivered an engaging 90 second pitch that stirred the crowd’s imagination, and the team was able to thoroughly¬† answer many good questions from the panel (by the way, Pavo is street legal!). With the extra funding, we will now be able to purchase and upgrade our electrical equipment, and pay for building supplies and safety gear. Thank you Awesome Calgary and all those who supported us!¬† Pavo Concertus is now that much closer to lighting up the streets of Calgary. Below are some pictures from the event

awesomecalgarygroupipic4 (320x213)
The  whole Awesome Calgary gang and Pavo three!

awesomecalgaryRavipic1 (213x320)
Ravi, unleashing his communications genius to deliver a one of a kind pitch!

awesomecalgarygrouppic3 (320x218)

Michael, Isabel, and Ravi – got money? Now they do. And a license to thrill.

awesomecalgarygrouppic2 (250x320)
Isabel, Ravi, and Michael after winning Pavo some wings!

Space Invasion

¬†Much thanks to Protospace for providing us with temporary storage and work space! We now have some parts, our truck, the “tail pipes”, and the bird’s main organ (literally), all conveniently located for working meetings. ¬†Today we took a better look at the organ for electrical purposes and determined that we will need to get a power inverter.¬† We are also in the process of transplanting the truck’s battery. ¬†All in all it was a productive day!¬†

organmay18 (320x240)

‘May’ the Parts be With You…

 After a hectic April of gathering info, seeking parts, and redesigning, May granted us a few big breaks.  We now have a truck and an electric organ, the foundation of Pavo, and the team is excited to start build sessions. Check out our twitter feed for more pictures and updates!

Organ Pipes (320x240)Organ Pipes 2 (320x240)

 Thanks to Knox Presbyterian Church who donated 17 organ pipes to the project.  These pipes will eventually become the impressive tail feathers of the peacock.  They also have a history! The organ pipes, originally from a church in Winnipeg, date back to 1911!


Technical Consultation

 The electrical/mechanical/musical technicians at The National Music Center were kind enough to share their ideas, advice, and knowledge today. We were able to view some models and discuss our plans with the experts, gaining a better idea of the complex engineering that will be employed to build Pavo. Thank you to NMC for sharing your expertise and enthusiasm!


The team has settled on a concept and configuration and is actively searching to find a suitable pickup truck with a large bed and a small cabin. We are in the process of setting up a website, looking at road regulations, drafting circuit diagrams, and collecting materials. Once a vehicle has been procured, we will have a better idea of what configurations are spacially possible.

We have contacted Foothills Piano who may donate an upright piano for our cause.

We have contacted the National Music Centre in Calgary who is offering a consultation session with their technicians to rig the piano with electrical pickups. We also have the opportunity to use 13 extraneous organ pipes from the museum.

Chris Simon from electrical engineering has introduced us to a large pile of scrap metal on its way to disposal. Members of our team have scavenged the pile for quirky components and useful structural scraps.


Have a question?
An opportunity for an awesome collaboration?
Want to see Pavo Concertus at your school?
We love to hear from you!

Isabel Chan
Team Lead

Where You Can Find Us!

Pavo Concertus at Beakerhead 2014

Wed Sept 10, 12:45-1:45pm Altadore School
Wed Sept 10, 4:00-6:00pm Stephen Ave (Between Bankers Hall/City Hall)
Fri Sept 11, 4:00-6:00pm Stephen Ave (Between Bankers Hall/City Hall)
Fri Sept 11, 6:30-9:00pm Open piano on Little Big Street (Olympic Way and 12 Ave SE)
Sat Sept 12, 11:00-6:00pm Open piano on Little Big Street (Olympic Way and 12 Ave SE)
Sat Sept 12, 6:00-11:00pm Beakernight+Little Big Street with art cars, swing dancers, and theramins!(Olympic Way and 12 Ave SE)
Sun Sept 13, 1:00-2:00pm Open piano on Little Big Street (Olympic Way and 12 Ave SE)

To get you hyped up, enjoy this gif of the team at the Shell International Engineering Competition last year: