Synaptic Aquarium Soma Model. Made with Blender. This model illustrates a 6″ neural cell body (soma), which was designed from a lamp-post cover, a long metal rod, and a cork and rubber lid. The exploded image shows lit LED strands inside the bulb, with a single, 4-pin Molex port for connection to the remainder of the network. This model is a revision of the original model (created 2013), which did not use Molex ports, nor a rubber seal for the lid. This modification illustrates my suggestions, which were incorporated in the latest installation (2015).

The planned installation at Black Rock Desert demands extreme care in design, as the fine dust found in the desert is highly alkaline and can quickly corrode electronics. Thus we aimed for all of our features to be waterproof. Further, participants in the festival are welcome to interact with installations however they see fit, thus this design has to be sturdy, if intended to return for multiple years. To accomplish this task, we used Molex ports for quick installation or replacement, if necessary. The lids were constructed of cork and rubber, and mounted onto the globe with a long, partially threaded (1/4-20″) post. The rubber had a thick band around the very top, which would invert and snap around the depression in the globe, providing a waterproof seal. Around the Molex ports, we applied hot glue (not illustrated), which provided a waterproof, but removable seal, facilitating teardown or replacement of broken units. In each version of the installation, each soma was hung using airplane cables to a 30′ geodesic dome.


Low speed wind tunnel for research investigating navigatory mosquito at University of Washington. Assembled in Google SketchUp (2010). This design was edited based upon feedback from research advisors and my thesis committee. Features of design, such as intake length and ratio, were designed to NASA-suggested specifications, and final models were used for COMSOL flow simulations (air flow and thermal flow). Within the wind tunnel are two rod heating elements on airfoil-style mounts (made with Blender). The placement, size and shape of these devices were also adjusted based upon feedback. Features of the design ultimately changed upon building, but did not need revision or feedback from the committee. For example, the lid design did not use a hinge as illustrated above, but instead were removable plates, which facilitated flow sampling, as modified lids could be swapped in for flow measurements. (Not shown are the fan, motor, and PID heater controller. The original 3D design is stored on University of Washington servers, to which I no longer have access.)

The challenge with this build was producing laminar flow at low speeds. This goal required exact matching of specifications of the propeller fan (18″, low clearance, large blade to minimize backdraft), baffle placement (intake and exhaust both have baffling and mesh overlay for laminarity and constraint), and working section size (~1 m x 0.3 m 0.3m, as per requested for insect size).

Mosquito holder design. This 3D-printed device holds 20-30 mosquitoes, and allows for external release. The front door has a long rod allowing for the cage to be opened by hand or motor outside of the wind tunnel. The door sits on springs, and snaps shut after each opening, or when the motor releases torque. This spring feature originally allowed for individual mosquitoes to be released; a goal that was no longer needed upon examination of preliminary data.

3D scans of Chrysopelea Heads. Made with Unity, Blender. These two figures represent developing work with flying snakes (Chrysopelea). Both snake heads (C. ornata, above, C. paradisi, below) were scanned using a 3D laser scanner (NextEngine), to 0.1 mm resolution. The individual scans were then stitched together to assemble a singular mesh (NextEngine Scan Studio). The model is then exported to Blender, where gaps are filled to create a singular manifold. These models are pictured above. For research purposes, a copy of the model is then imported to MeshLab, to selectively downsample vertices. This smoothed, downsampled model is than used for a ray casting procedure, in order to derive 3D world view, as described on my homepage.