algorithmic modeling for Rhino



Firefly offers a set of comprehensive software tools dedicated to bridging the gap between Grasshopper, (a free plug-in for Rhino) the Arduino microcontroller and other input/output devices. It allows near real-time data flow between the digital and physical worlds – enabling the possibility to explore virtual and physical prototypes with unprecedented fluidity.

Location: Cambridge, MA
Members: 482
Latest Activity: on Sunday

Firefly Experiments

As a generative modeling tool, Grasshopper offers a fluid visual interface for creating sophisticated parametric models, but by default, it lacks the ability to communicate with hardware devices such as programmable microcontrollers or haptic interfaces. Firefly fills this void. It is an extension to the Grasshopper’s parametric interface; combining a specialized set of components with a novel communication protocol (called the Firefly Firmata or Firmware) which together enable real-time communication between hardware devices and the parametric plug-in for Rhino.

Key Features

  • Read / Write to Arduino microcontrollers and other devices
  • Visualize Sensor Data within Firefly / Grasshopper
  • Control LEDS, Lights, Motors, Valves and more
  • Control Stepper Motors (for 3d Printers and end effectors) 
  • Stream Web Cams and connect with Mobile Devices (iOS + Android) using OSC and UDP
  • Connect to Internet Feeds and search XML Feeds 
  • Generate code to upload to an Arduino Board
  • Basic sound input and processing tools
  • Datalogging, counting and playback
  • Machine Vision toolkit including edge detection, color filtering, convolution filtering and much more
  • Kinect toolkit including skeleton tracking

A notable distinction for Firefly is that it is the first visual microcontroller programming environment designed specifically for a 3-D parametric CAD package (such as Rhino). This feature means that real-world data, acquired from various types of sensors or other input devices (video cameras, internet feeds, or mobile phone devices, etc.) can be used to explicitly define parametric relationships within a Grasshopper model. Firefly completes the communication feedback loop by allowing users the ability to send information from Grasshopper back to the microcontroller in order to incite specific actuations (ie. lights, motors, valves, etc). Ultimately, this workflow creates a new way to create interactive prototypes.

Discussion Forum

Serial Read as a trigger for next string of serial write 1 Reply

Hi!I'm developing a CNC wire cutting machine with 4 stepper motors. I'm using the accelStepper and MultiStepper libraries in arduino, and feeding the controller(an ATmega 328p based fabduino) packets of values to read. The packets are currently in…Continue

Started by Oliver Bucklin. Last reply by Andy Payne Nov 9.

Firefly Kinect Skeleton Tracking

Hi all,I am trying to set up Kinect to work with Firefly. I got the Skeleton Tracking component working except that Z-Direction is incorrect, it looks like it is almost lying down. Is there a way to re-calibrate the Kinect or any other way to fix…Continue

Tags: tracking, skeleton, firefly, kinect

Started by Yulchik Oct 25.

Kinect Status: Undefined 9 Replies

Hi all, i am trying to run the skeleton component for kinekt, but I am getting the following warning: Kinect Status: Undefined, hence I am not able to make the component work.... any ideas?Kinect is connected when I check the kineck console..Running…Continue

Started by Ed Tibuzzi. Last reply by awkweird Oct 25.

capacitive touch 1 Reply

Andy,   I am trying to use the files you've made for capacitive touch and when I do the serial monitor in arduino all is well. When I use the serial monitor in firefly I am not able to get the same values. Is that because this firmata is for an…Continue

Started by machinehistories. Last reply by machinehistories Oct 22.


Loading… Loading feed

Comment Wall


You need to be a member of Firefly to add comments!

Comment by Rafael on July 9, 2015 at 1:14am

Hi everyone. I just recently created a group about a project based on the use of arduino + grasshopper and Firefly. It is called The Mini Airflow Tunnel Project: The idea is to use grasshopper and firefly to operate a low-cost wind tunnel with arduino and wind sensors.

Comment by Christian Schmidts on July 4, 2015 at 5:00pm

Is there a way to merge the the Firefly firmata with the quadstepper in order to drive one stepper motor and other devices at the same time with one Arduino? Is it generally possible? Cheers!

Comment by xiao-g on April 18, 2015 at 12:50am

Hello All,

I just installed Firefly 64bit for Rhino5. But when I have trouble to launch grasshopper when it loads Firefly.X. It pops a warning as the image attached. 

Could anyone kindly suggest how to solve it? Many many thanks!

Comment by Juan Sepulveda on March 1, 2015 at 8:17am

Hello everybody,

I share the video from the Adaptive Facade Workshop that European Facade Network organized in Lucerne in November 2014, all the students used Firefly for the mock-ups...

Comment by Andy Payne on February 25, 2015 at 4:55pm

Hi Kwanphil.  Unfortunately, at this moment it is not possible to load in an mp3 file directly.  You could play it over the speakers and use the other audio components to read in the microphone data... but reading in an mp3 file isn't currently supported.

Comment by kwanphil cho on February 25, 2015 at 12:58pm

Hi. thank you for letting me in the group. Just quick question. is there any way to bring mp3 file and play in firefly? I would like to extract data from specific mp3 file if it is possible. Any advice will be greatly appreciated. Thank in advance.

Comment by Justin Hare on January 14, 2015 at 7:41am

Andy, I was previously running Windows via Bootcamp and it worked fine. I had an issue after updating to Yosemite that lost the partition so I reinstalled everything and decided to go the Parallels route. Might not have been the best idea. 

Comment by Andy Payne on January 14, 2015 at 7:38am

Justin, was this working before on a different system configuration?

Comment by Justin Hare on January 14, 2015 at 7:26am

Help! Switched to using Parallels and now Kinect doesn't work. I know there is an issue with Kinect not properly connecting in other programs. I haven't had any luck finding a solution. Any suggestions?

Comment by awkweird on December 2, 2014 at 11:32pm

Thank you for advice Mr.Andy. I am almost finished my project, however I have another question that is eliminating my pc from the entire work. Which means uploading these grasshopper codes to Arduino. I have seen the CodeGene component but quite not sure whether Ardiuno itself could handle the computing process of Leap motion data. Should i use arduino with usb connection? or other device that would be connection between leapmotion and Arduino board?
Here is my multiple Servo motor connection video.


Members (482)



Search Grasshopper


  • Add Photos
  • View All

© 2015   Created by Scott Davidson.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service