At the core of the instrument are six gallium phosphate crytsals — quartz-like structures which do not occur in nature. When playing the instrument, the crystals are made to resonate at different ultrasonic frequencies, and their interference patterns create audible tones.
I was brought on to develop both analog and digital circuitry for the Irvine, Cavatorta's first electronic musical instrument. As part of this effort, I designed and fabricated the electronic circuits that produce sound from the vibrations of gallium phosphate crystals. I also developed interfaces for many of the sensors embedded in the instrument.
See article and video from Radio Styria. More videos to come!
the Irvine Mark 7, ready for filming and performance at Helmut List Halle in Graz
player changes pitch by interacting with slider, touch-sensitive keys, levers, and faders
main sound board, where analog signal from crystal is mixed with digitally synthesized waves
an early prototype, with tube amplifiers internal to the instrument
six gallium phosphate crystals connect to the oscillators in the back of the instrument
small snapshotot of the "first-heterodyne" frequency-mixing schematic
synthesizer internals are visible underneath lid of the instrument
lower-frequency heterodyne resulting from mixing high-frequency waveforms
sensor housings for crystals — normally used for monitoring thin-film deposition
gallium phosphate crystals connect to custom-designed oscillators
an early oscillator prototype, with trimmer capacitor for fine-tuning
the completed instrument, in Cavatorta's studio at Dark Matter Manufacturing
TARDIGRADES THAT LIVE IN YOUR SMARTPHONE
Tardigrades are micro-animals that live in extreme environments. They've been discovered in the ocean abyss (thousands of meters below sea level), the highest slopes of the Himalayas, and many habitats in between. Some species can survive both cosmic radiation and the vacuum of space. They are also know as water bears.
Project Ara was a smartphone by Google, which users could customize by attaching modules into the phone's empty shell. One of these modules — designed by Midnight Commercial — held a tiny aquarium with a state-of-the-art digital microscope. Adding this module would insert a community of tardigrades into the body of the phone, and make them visible onscreen.
As an engineer on the Midnight Commercial team, I prototyped electronics and built test equiptment at multiple stages of the module's development. I also devised experiments to quantify both lighting and thermal effects on the tardigrade biome.
shell of the module — both biome and microscope designed to fit inside
milled circuit board used for toggling between different types of light in the biome
testing the effectiveness of a micropeltier element in cooling a biome stand-in
experiments in 3D-printed light pipes, on a milled circuit board
one of the sensors to be used for lenless on-chip imaging of the tardigrade biome
diagnostic print to determine minimum feature sizes of our SLA 3D printer
custom LED control board for development of Project Ara tardigrade module
an alternate breakout board for controlling lights in the tardigrade module
blown-up diagram of a 3D-printed prototype used for testing samples
timelapse of activity in the tardigrade biome, from an early prototype
one of many experimental setups, from early lensless imaging tests
side-by-side white and infrared LEDs, for a biome experiment
STICKY MODULAR CAMERA SYSTEM
During the prototyping process for a Samsung product at Midnight Commercial, I created a series of camera modules with microsuction backing. These cameras were later involved in a proof-of-concept for a more complex Samsung appliance.
Some of the modules were wifi-enabled, and periodically sent images to a central server for post-processing. Other variations communicated via USB. Captures could be triggered with an external, physical button. All enclosures were 3D-printed using SLA techniques, and finished by hand.
creating two camera enclosures, using Formlabs Form 2 SLA 3D printer
post-curing the printed enclosures at 60 C and under ultraviolet light
an early version of the camera enclosure, with support structures still attached
milling circuit boards — these ones in particular were used for the external trigger
experimenting with alternate enclosures, rearranging internal electronics
an assembled camera module, complete with wide-angle lens and USB cable
TINY ELASTIC ACTUATORS
I worked under Dr. Elisabeth Smela to fabricate and characterize dielectric elastomer actuators, for potential future use in robot locomotion.
Dielectric elastomer actuators (DEAs) consist of an elastomer sandwiched between two compliant electrodes. When an external voltage is applied, electrostatic forces will cause the electrodes to attract, squeezing and elongating the elastomer in between. If one electrode is more stiff than the other, we can achieve a bending motion due to the asymmetry.