Grasshopper + Firefly = Light Sensor Prototype

It’s been a little while since I posted any of my experiments using Rhino + Grasshopper + Firefly with an Arduino – but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy behind the scenes continuing to experiment! The last video I posted was actually the first showing how it can all come together, and it’s definitely come a long way since then. Time for something new.

This video shows the latest experiment to control the opening of some panels using a light sensor. While relatively self explanatory, the idea is that as more light is detected, the panels open, like a flower opening as the sun rises. This is a very rough prototype to simply test how the system would work and prove an idea I’ve had in my head for a week now. I’d call this a success!

There’s something fulfilling about hacking together a proof-of-concept model like this – it doesn’t have to be pretty, but gets the idea out of your head in the shortest amount of time so you can be confident developing it further, rather than investing a lot of time into a really nice (potentially 3D printed) model that might not even work. With this I can now move on to thinking through both the application and detailing of the concept into more of a product. If you’re interested in finding out more about how this system works, check out the Firefly website. It’s definitely the coolest bit of CAD software I’ve come across lately.

– Posted by James Novak

A High-Tech Plywood Box?

20150712 IR Box

Following on from my post a few days ago, the gluing of the plywood box is now complete 🙂 I had to take it nice and slow with a couple of the pieces slightly bowed, and as you can see in the third image, I had to use a few small nails along a couple of edges to hold it all in place while the glue dried. A few good clamps also helped do the trick as well, as in the first image.

I’ll admit my 3D modeling wasn’t perfect; I had originally designed the box in Solidworks with a 3mm sheet thickness, but had to change this on the fly to 3.5mm based on the available plywood sheets. Somewhere during this process a few dimensions got thrown out of alignment (obviously my parametric relationships need some work!) so the 2 end pieces needed a couple of the tabs to be slightly trimmed back – nothing a saw and a file couldn’t fix, although my pride might need a bit more work!

If you look closely at the middle image you’ll see some wires coming out of the box – these are infrared sensors that I’m going to have a play with connected to my Arduino. Without giving too much away just yet, I’m planning to use this to play around with some CAD files, using Rhino + Grasshopper + Firefly… the rest I’ll leave to your imagination!

– Posted by James Novak

2D for a Change

2015-06-30 Laser Cut

As a departure from my usual 3D printing talk today’s post is going a little 2D, featuring laser cutting. As part of my PhD research I’ve been playing around with all sorts of sensors, Arduino, Rhino, Grasshopper… and plenty more (you can check out the last post here). One of my latest experiments needs a box to mount some sensors inside, so forming a custom box with mounting holes seemed a great excuse to think a little 2D for a change.

The pieces were designed in Solidworks, and only 2 unique pieces were really required – the main length and the end piece. These were just copied and tweaked to form the slight variations. There’s something nice about the concept of combining the natural timber with some high-tech sensors, so 3.5mm plywood was chosen as the best material. The dimensions I used were to make optimum use of the sheet size with minimum waste, as you can see in the first image. Overall the cutting of all pieces wouldn’t have taken more than 10 minutes, and while the laser didn’t always cut completely through the sheets, it was nothing a bit of brute force and a file couldn’t fix. There’s also a slight bow in a couple of the pieces, so gluing them to form the box might be a little tricky – I’m hoping a few small nails might do the trick without splitting the laminated veneers apart. I’ll add some photos of the final result when it’s complete.

– Posted by James Novak