Learn about designing a musical instrument. This tutorial covers how to think about material constraints in product design, and how those could translate into a parametric design algorithm.
- [Narrator] My goal in this chapter is to show you a case study for building a parametric design algorithm for a musical instrument. And this chapter will be a nice blend of some of the modeling ideas you might be familiar with already in Rhino, along with an introduction to some of the benefits of working in Grasshopper. Namely, the ability to link together core design features in a way that can be quickly and seamlessly tweaked and updated. Now, this is a very unique instrument called the linguiphone of tremulous communion. And it's one I actually designed myself as part of an art project. You might have actually already seen this in action on linden.com in the creative documentary Maker: The New Art Class.
If you haven't seen it yet, I would highly encourage you to check it out. The instrument and the very unique way that it's played comes in around the six minute and 42 mark, but of course, you should watch the whole thing. It's got a lot of great information about digital fabrication in education. So you can see this instrument has just a few sets of parts. So I have a wooden base and a wooden top. Those are made out of the same kind of material. I ended up prototyping in both plywood and walnut. We have some thin metal keys on the side. And then some round metal frets that the keys kind of sit on top of.
And all of those parts are sandwiched together with some machine screws and washers and on the underside are some threaded inserts that help everything bolt together. So fairly simple, in terms of the individual components that make up the instrument. But to get to that deceptively simple design took some real work. Especially since I needed to produce several hundred of these for a series of instrument building workshops. I had to make sure that they could be produced as economically as possible, and that they could be assembled easily by non-experts. Now that process took a lot of creative design first with a couple of hand made prototypes and then through an iterative design process in Grasshopper and Rhino.
So let's jump into modeling a musical instrument and getting our feet wet with a real algorithmic modeling project. We'll go ahead and switch over to Grasshopper and Rhino. To get our Rhino file set up, I'm going to go ahead and make a new file from the template, Small Objects, Inches. And let's just get our grid set up. That's under file, properties, grid. So I'd like my grid line count set to 144.
And that'll give me about 18 inches out from the origin in each direction, once we get the rest of these settings in. I like to change my minor grid lines to happen every eighth of an inch, so that's every 0.125 inches. Then I like major grid lines every eight minor grid lines. So that'll give a major grid line every inch. And then my snap spacing, I'll go ahead and put this on an eighth of an inch for now. Since most of the modeling that we'll do is through Grasshopper, the snap spacing isn't super important in this case.
And in Grasshopper, I've already got a definition open called 0010Instrumentsetup.gh. And this outlines all the steps I think we'll need in our algorithm. So I get user-defined dimensions, I generate some profiles for the different shapes, the base and the through holes and the top wooden piece. I make some tracks for the frets to slide into. I extrude those base profiles and then I collect all the bake-able geometry. So, you can think of these steps almost like an outline for how we'll set up our Grasshopper file.
Some of these might be very simple, they might only take one component. Some of these might be very complex and might have lots of, sort of, sub parts. So this is our overall algorithm and you could almost think of each step as it's own little mini algorithm. And through the videos in this chapter, we'll break down how to approach each step. Okay, we're all set up here with a plan. In the next video, we can work on flushing out our algorithm.
By the end of the course, you'll see how even basic literacy in Grasshopper can be applied to developing projects for art, manufacturing, architecture, and design.
- Working with algorithms
- Modeling a base profile
- Extruding elements
- Finishing an algorithm
- Planning for mass production
- Customizing Grasshopper
- Scripting with Python and Visual Basic .NET
- Modeling data with Ladybug
- Creating a tiling grid
- Tiling 3D objects
- Using reflection symmetry and mirroring to repeat tile
- Tessellating tile in any direction