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


Walk Log

Sherloc is a bicycle-mounted roving detective kit for urban investigation.  Taking transects through a city, it records GPS coordinates, light, humidity, sound levels, and airborne particulate concentrations.  This data is brought into Grasshopper through gHowl or LunchBox components where it  provides a means to visualize these wild urban energies as a medium for constructing weather. This building scale data is a key addition to the context provided by the NOAA and Weather Underground.

Here is Sherloc’s maiden voyage through some not-so-urban lawns and pastures near Batesville, Virginia.

The white framed extrusions show light level readings.  The black extrusion captures an instant of the frame-by-frame reading of the data.

sherloc’s path definition

sherloc files

local weather feeds

The Weather Underground has many associated personal stations that provide streaming weather data.  These report temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, conditions, wind direction, and wind speed.  In some areas there are enough stations to reveal local microclimates. You can create your own array of weather stations by adding to Weather Underground’s network.

weather underground rss files

Weather stations coordinates are mapped to XYZ space with a gHowl component.  The yellow cones are proportional to the wind speed reported at each station.

albemarle wind from lp on Vimeo

Wind speeds were recorded for several  Albemarle County stations on July 28, 2012 between noon and 1:00 PM.  Readings were taken about twice per minute from the weather underground RSS feed using the gHowl plug-in for GrassHopper.  Wind speeds ranged from 0 to 7 mph during this interval.  Note that these summer breezes could not be described as having a prevailing direction!

US wind

This is a simple definition that parses live wind data for Eastern US from the boy genius weather feed list.

Wind is represented as a vector extending from each weather station.  Wind is also shown as a delaunay topography. Note the sharp wind peak in Michigan! (This definition is based on a temperature map by Arthur Mamou-Mani.)

US wind definition

US weather compiler

US weather compiler definition

This definition compiles a set of weather readings for 218 cities in the United States. In this map of the US  total precipitation at the weather stations is proportional to the radii of the olive colored disks, while the gradation from blue-green to blue to red-violet  correlates with the average surface temperature reading from the stations.  This is taken directly from the NOAA website by means of the HTTP reader component of the Slingshot! plug-in for grasshopper:

station locations

temperature range

mean temperature

average temperature

total precipitation

daily average solar radiation

surface temperature range

average surface temperature

live data

National Data Buoy Center: wind data along the Chesapeake

This definition constantly updates live wind data from buoys along the Chesapeake Bay.  The wind speed is represented by circles around the buoys that are proportional to wind speed.  Wind speed is also represented as a mesh topography, with height proportional to wind speed at each buoy along the bay.

Chesapeake Wind definition


chesapeake wind from lp on Vimeo.

The live wind data from the Chesapeake buoys, sampled at about 20 minute intervals during a summer afternoon, evening, and morning, reveals a summer convective wind pattern with land breezes and sea breezes.