a bicycle-mounted roving detective kit for urban investigation

designer:  Ryan Lewandowski

Fastened to a bike via a shock mount,  Sherloc is a battery operated urban sensor device that records the temperature, humidity, light, and airborne particulate matter that is then geolocated with the onboard GPS device. This information is stored as a Comma Separated Value (CSV) file that can be easily mapped within Grasshopper to create parametrically driven data landscapes or surfaces for a city or site.

The device  will take readings once every 2-4 seconds. Once your trip has been completed, just press the power switch to end the recording. To retrieve the recording, unscrew the top of the box and remove the MicroSD card from the shield on the Arduino. Plug it into your computer and you have a formatted CSV file that can be opened in Excel or read directly through Grasshopper!

Sherloc also has o-ring mounts for an iPhone.  This is specifically for apps that record decibel levels and topography, but app-space contains many as-yet-unexplored regions…

iPhone attachment

inside the box


shadow animation

Using either DIVA or Geco with Ecotect, it is easily possible to animate shadow volumes during the course of any day of the year.

shadow animation from lp on Vimeo.

test_solar_position definition

energy simulations

Conducting energy simulation within the grasshopper environment makes an iterative work flow much more simple.  The example below, using the DIVA plug-in, shows illumination values (represented by a gradation from red to blue) under the red canopy.  Note the data tags.  These values are available to shape surface strategies.


The example below uses the Geco plug-in to integrate with  Ecotect.  Here the total incident solar radiation is represented as a topography from red (hot) to blue (cool). The definition requires a .wea file.



There is a constant two-way conversation between the developer, David Rutten, and Grasshopper users through the grasshopper forum, providing Rutten with first hand knowledge of the interests of people who work with this software. This special relationship with users has extended to outside developers who are encouraged to create plug-ins that expand the reach of the grasshopper platform. Expansions into territories outside mainstream architecture now include connections with database spreadsheets and tabular data available through the internet, ability to link with real-time data flows, connections to mapping platforms, connections to data resulting from energy simulations, the ability to  interface with sensors and motors to create active physical prototypes, etc.

We have used many plug-ins in this work.  Some of them, such as  hoopsnake, kangaroo physics, mesh edit, paneling tools, and tree8, add to the general functionality of grasshopper.  The plug-ins that pertain to the specific needs of this research are:

tabular data:  gHowl and LunchBox

internet connections:  gHowl, Slingshot!

real time data and active physical prototypes:  Firefly

maps and Geo:  Elk, gHowl

simulations:  DIVA, Geco

See also the Data Study and Solar Study file tree PDFs.  These reveal the plug-ins used for particular downloadable definitions.

delta architecture

A delta robot is a three-legged device, capable of precise control, and well suited to the fast execution of light-duty tasks.  It has potential for controlling shade structures as well as apertures in surfaces.

Delta Robot Facade from lp on Vimeo.

The delta modules track the sun between 30 and 45 degrees from surface normals. Then they slowly return to their home position.

Here is an individual module:

delta robot from lp on Vimeo.

delta robot definition

The definition below mathematically computes the position of a robotic arm that is restricted within a two-dimensional plane of movement.
It uses basic trigonometric equations instead of parametric relationships between geometric forms.
For an set of delta bot definitions for grasshopper, see Brian Harms’ delta bot challenge on the grasshopper forum. For an  explanation of inverse kinematics, see this site:  learn about robots

robotic arm via inverse kinematics definition

Delta from lp on Vimeo.

delta robot controlled by a wii nunchuck

solar study

This website explores a set of key tools for constructing weather.  Various simulation software, linking to Grasshopper, is available to bring rigor to this process.  Here is a file tree of a annotated definitions, PDFs, and accessory files:

solar study file tree pdf

data study

This website explores a set of key tools for simultaneous (rather than sequential) analytic and design investigations.  Here is a file tree of a annotated definitions, PDFs, and accessory files:

data study file tree pdf