Picture of Satellites: Algorithmic Light Sculptures


Satellites was designed as physically executable procedure for making light sculptures that manifests differently every time it is made.

The final result is system for making intended to empower the end user as an active and necessary participant in the design process rather than a passive consumer.

Each satellite contains two different kinds of algorithmically-generated 3D-printed joints, each made by spinning hollow cylinders around a point. The cylinders are rotated according to lunar positioning data at the time of 3D printing. The mobiles are then manually-assembled.

Here are the instructions for making your own personal Satellite.

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Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

3D Modeling Program (I used Rhino)

3D printing resource (I used my Makerbot Replicator 2x)

Adobe Illustrator (or other vector editing software)



Scotch Tape

6 Sided Dice

.03” Clear Acrylic Sheets


6/32, ¼” Button Cap Screws


Two-Way Mirror Window Tinting Film


Spray Bottle

Window Tinting Squeegee

New Utility Blade or Exacto knife

Straight Edge


¼” Drill Bit

Hex Wrench

Lamp Wire & Socket


½ Chrome Light Bulb


3, 48” x ⅜” Wooden Dowels

Step 2: Prepare your joint files

Picture of Prepare your joint files

You can use my enclosed Rhino file to skip to the next step or prepare the cylinders on your own. (note: If you’re not using Rhino, some of the commands might have different names)

If you’re modeling your own cylinders, draw a line .65” long starting at the origin. Use the “pipe” function to extrude a pipe around your line with a .175” radius and another pipe around the same line with a .1” radius. Next, draw a sphere around one of the line’s endpoints that also has a .175” radius. Use the “BooleanUnion” function to merge the sphere and the larger pipe. Then use the “BooleanDifference” function to subtract the smaller pipe from sphere + larger pipe. Copy and past the tube so you have 3 copies on different layers.

Love how delicate they are. :D