JESSE T. GONZALEZ
Electronics • Digital Fabrication

Hi, I'm Jesse! I work with artists and entrepreneurs to create rapid prototypes, interactive experiences, and products that bridge the digital and physical realms.

I'm an engineer by training, with a background in mechatronics.

Here are a few projects that I'm proud to have been a part of:

Older articles and project blogs:

Games and animation:

above: PROTOTYPING / LASER CUTTING
prototype window installation and demo 2D-plotter

prototype for section of Cartier window installation at Midnight Commercial

PROTOTYPING & FABRICATION SERVICES

If you have a product you'd like to prototype, or a neat project you'd like to bring to reality, I offer electronics design and basic fabrication services. I'm based in New York City, USA.

Examples of some of my work are below.

Submit a design file, a sketch, or just say hello at jesse@finestbean.cc

USB camera module (3D-printed) for a Midnight Commercial + Samsung prototype
custom LED control board for development of Project Ara tardigrade module
motorized spools (laser-cut) for a 2D plotter demonstration
custom-designed synthesizer for a musical instrument at Andy Cavatorta Studio

A NEW MUSICAL INSTRUMENT FROM GALLIUM PHOSPHATE CRYSTALS

The Irvine Mark 7 is a new musical instrument by Andy Cavatorta, commissioned by the AVL Cultural Foundation. It debuted in Graz, Austria, at a performance in October 2017.

At the core of the instrument are six gallium phosphate crystals — 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 snapshot 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 equipment at multiple stages of the module's development. I also devised experiments to quantify both lighting and thermal effects on the tardigrade biome.

Meet the team! Noah Feehan, Matt Borgatti, David Nuñez, Jennifer Bernstein, Sam Posner, Rebecca Lieberman, Bailey Meadows, Vinyata Pany, and Cody Daniel.

Read more about the project on VentureBeat.

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.

Read more about the research on the Laboratory for Microtechnologies website.

exfoliated graphite structures -- from M. Kujawski, J. D. Pearse, and E. Smela, "Elastomers filled with exfoliated graphite as compliant electrodes," Carbon (2010)
an early actuator, using carbon grease as an electrode (later exfoliated graphite)
plotting stress-strain curves for the loaded actuators (noticeable hysteresis here)
test setup used for measuring actuation as well as determining capacitance of the elastomers
exfoliated graphite + PDMS mixture in vacuum desiccator to remove air bubbles
simple stencil used to cover elastomers when spray-coating exfoliated graphite electrodes

More pictures coming soon!

THESE LEDS ARE SENSORS TOO!

This is the LED Sensing Matrix — an interactive display I built that responds to light and shadow. Check out the graphic to the right for one example application of the technology. The moving dot on the matrix seems to "bounce" off a solid object placed on the display.

It's a bit of a hack, because this effect is accomplished without using any dedicated photosensors. Instead, with some clever circuitry, the same LEDS that we use to emit light are configured to detect light as well! No extra components needed.

I wrote an article that explains the physics behind the process, and walks through an example implementation. Read more here.

TAPSLIDE! (PRETEND) TO TRAIN YOUR BRAIN

Tapslide is a spatial relations puzzle that I made for iPhone and Android devices. The player is presented with a pattern, and is tasked with mirroring that pattern across a horizontal or vertical axis before a timer expires. As the player progresses, the patterns become more complex, and the time allotted for each puzzle decreases.

This started as an exercise in interface design — I wanted to create an experience that used familar gestures in an unfamilar context. The process of tapping on squares and swiping a bar is reminiscent of older smartphone lock screens, and hopefully taps into some existing muscle memory.

Read the article on AppSpy. Or check out some of the various reviews and user gameplay footage from YouTube: One Two Three Four Five Six

Download and play the game here: iOS (Apple App Store) Android (Google Play)

PART-OF-SPEECH TAGGING WITH HIDDEN MARKOV MODELS

In the summer of 2015, I came across Professor Michael Collins's collection of lectures on statistical natural language processing. Inspired by his first couple chapters, I put together a simple part-of-speech tagger that incorporates many of the concepts covered.

Explore the iPython notebook here.

© 2017 Jesse T. Gonzalez | Finest Bean