Galapagos: Evolutionary Type Design

Galagagos is a generative typeface making tool that uses a generative algorithm to transform existing typefaces into new versions of themselves.  I collaborated with Danne Woo from the Tuesday session of Nature of Code.  This project was created in Processing and borrows heavily from Dan Shiffman’s “Faces” example of genetic evolution.

We used the Geomerative Library to find the vector points along the contours of each individual letter.  From there, we created a number of different “genes” that represented various characteristics of a font that could be altered.  By no means a complete portrait of all the possibilities, we created genes that altered color, alpha levels, width, height, and randomized the x,y locations of the vector points along the letter contours.  The most interesting part for me, was seeing how turning genes on and off in the code can create such diverse changes.

We added a export function that exports the drawing as a pdf.  Since it is a vector file, these drawings can be edited in Illustrator or a font making software to create real, usable (if not legible) typefaces.

We’re hoping to get a working version on the web over the next few months to allow anyone to create their own typefaces.


Circuit Board 2.0 Complete-ish

So for my final for Sustainable Energy final I decided to take my Circuit Board one step further. I embedded all the LEDs in the actual board itself along with routing out channels for all the wiring then covering the wiring with grip tape. I also upgraded the LEDs to super bright LEDs to have a brighter glow. I designed my own circuit board which I embedded into the actual riser pad thus protecting it along with hiding it from sight. Trying to make it as modular as possible I created touch connections between the board and the circuit board using two copper rods that when everything is screwed together touch to make the positive and negative connections to the LEDs.

Another addition to make it modular is to add a secure molex connection from the generator to the circuit board, thus allowing the user to unplug and upgrade. The only additions that I did not have time to complete are incorporating the actual generator into the axel of the skateboard truck along, this would fix the issue of the stepper motor slipping on the wheel along with getting rid of an additional component. I hope to add this feature to Circuit Board 3.0 (coming next fall, I hope). Also video documentation will be posted in the next few days. Thank you to Jeff and ITP for all the assistance.

Little Bits
Bernard Kiwia

Image Evolution

For my Nature of Code final I am working with Ann Chen on a way to use a evolutionary and generative program to compare one image to another and using a evolution algorithm we plan to see how many generations it takes for one image to evolve into the other. This system can be used for any image weather it is to compare two dog breeds, human portraits, etc. The system will basically be comparing the color of each pixel and mating and mutating from an original color to the target pixel color. Along with knowing how many generations it would take to evolve from one to the other we also believe that the evolutionary process will be beautiful to watch.

Helpful links:

Circuit Board 2.0

For my Sustainable Energy final I have decided to continue work on my Circuit Board project which uses the kinetic energy of the spinning skateboard wheel to power undercarriage super bright LEDs. To improve on the beta version of the Circuit Board I am planing on embedding the LEDs into the board rather than using copper tape on the surface so its a lot more durable. Secondly I will create a housing area in the riser, which is the plastic piece between the truck and the deck, to hold the circuit board. There will be conductive metal bars embedded into the risers to pass the current from the generator to the circuit board to the LEDs. I am planing on redesigning the axel of the truck to actually include the generator as part of the axel thus reducing the number of parts. If the generator is attached to the axel itself the wheel can spin the generator directly.

Wave Energy Conversion Final Project

For my final project for Sustainable Energy I have decided to try and harness the awesome power of waves. There are many ways to collect the energy from a wave and I am still trying to decide which would be best (the rocking motion using a pendulum, the water pressure to spin a turbine, a turbine right below the surface, etc.) The second challenge is trying to figure out what would be a interesting device to power using energy created by a wave. Below are a few ideas.

Circuit Board

The Circuit Board uses the kinetic energy from a spinning wheel to produce power, lighting undercarriage LEDs. The skateboard wheel spins a motor that outputs up to 7 volts depending on the speed of rotation. The Circuit Board can charge anything that requires electricity. The possibilities are endless.

This project was created as a midterm assignment for Jeff Feddersen’s Sustainable Energy class. The original assignment was to create something that was powered using an alternative energy source whether it was solar, tidal or kinetic. When researching ideas for this I came across a project created by Bernard Kiwia that allowed people in developing countries to use the kinetic energy created by their bicycles to charge their cellphones. I loved this concept and decided to do something similar. I chose a different vehicle, a skateboard, and a slightly different device, an iPhone.

The wiring and materials were fairly simple. A stepper motor to create the energy, 8 diodes to create a rectifier circuit, a ton of capacitors to store the energy and a hacked minty boost from adafruit to charge the phone. Once all the circuitry was put together I ran some tests using a power drill to try and get it working. I was successful in charging the iPhone during these tests but it drained all the power from the capacitors to quickly so I was really only able to charge the phone for a max of 5 seconds at a time. In theory I could charge a battery then charge the iPhone using the battery but thats kind of cheating. So I decided to go a different route for the project and just pimp out the skateboard. Rather than charging a iPhone I decided to throw some undercarriage lighting on the board and when someone is riding the board the lights are powered.

By far the most difficult part to this project was trying to figure out how to attach the stepper motor to the board. I realized that since the trucks are on an axel I couldn’t attach the motor to the deck but would have to figure out a way to attach it to the truck itself. My first attempt was just sad. I initially tried to just strap the motor to the axel using zip ties and washers, that immediately failed and I realized that I needed to figure out a way to drill through the axel and put some threaded rods through the truck to securely attach the motor. Since the trucks are made of aluminum this wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. I drilled two holes into the truck, attached two threaded rods to it and sandwiched the motor in with washers and nuts which sort of worked. Then I moved on to aluminum plates and compression springs to actually gauge the pressure of the motor on the wheel. Also to avoid slipping I coated the motor in plasti dip, which is used to add grip to tools.

The final step was attaching the 50 LEDs along the border of the undercarriage of the skateboard. I used copper tape to do this temporarily but plan to actually embed the LEDs and wiring into the board. This was a great project and I really am excited to continue working on it. Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments. Thanks.

Bocce Draw

Bocce Draw is a project using projection and computer vision to better the game play of bocce ball. Using a PS3 Eye camera the computer measures the distance of each bocce ball from the Pallino. Once the distance is determined we use a projector to display circular patterns onto the court. To indicate what ball is closest to the Pallino, the project circle pulses.

Skateboard iPhone Charger

Danne Woo and Sophie Laffont

Inspired by Bernard Kiwia’s bike phone charger created for the people of Tanzania, we wish to use a similar method but with a skateboard rather than a bike. Using the spinning wheel of the skateboard we plan to generate enough power to charge an iPhone.

Design and Technical
• Design
• We have several ideas for the design of the charger. We can create a box that is part of the skateboard i.e contained within the skateboard.
• Or we can have an outside little box that attaches to the skateboard, most likely underneath it (see drawings below.)
• Also, there are a couple of different ways that we can charge the phone

• Traditional iPhone charger.
The phone can then be directly charged from the skateboard so it is plugged into the charger,
• iPhone battery charger
A battery is charged and that can then be used to power the iPhone when it is low on power.

• Skateboard (board, trucks, wheels, bearings, risers)
• 470 microfarad capacitor
• 7806 transistor (voltage regulator)
• USB iPhone cable
• 12V DC motor
• Rubber roller
• Brake pipe
• Brake clamp
• Spoke
• Spring wire
• 8mm nylon rod

• Kiwia Phone Charger (
• Hacked Minty Boost (