Heliotrope - Solar

Heliotrope is a Grasshopper plug-in for manipulating solar geometry.

The tool calculates solar position vectors at specific dates and times and provides a variety of components for manipulating those dates and times parametrically.  Use it to create solar-aware design, to align geometry, position rendering lights, or analyze incident sun on structures.  

Please see the included User Guide and example programs for installation and usage information.

I value your thoughts and comments!  Please feel free to contact me: brian at slateshinglestudio.com

- Brian -

Plug-in rating:
Average: 4.5 (10 votes)
Title Release Notes
Need for a license key removed! Whew! We all feel better. Heliotrope is now Free for commercial and non-commercial use, attribution required. See Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 for the gist. Contact author for details.  
Version: 2.0.2
Language: English


Hello everyone. I am very new to grasshopper and parametric design but found that wonderful component and I am trying myself in some shadowcasting now )) But I don't really understand how to get the North Vector...

Please help me in that question.

Kind regards, Maxim

NIce tool.


Hi Brian,

Great work on Heliotrope. I'm having some issues with the time accuracy though. According to Heliotrope, the sun rises at 10:22 pm Oct 9 and sets at 9:32 am Oct 10, with solar noon at 3:57 am Oct 10 in Spokane (~47N,~117W), Wa with the settings at 10/10/2014. Also I'm getting differing values using the Solar Day Events component versus the Sunrise and Sunset components. What am I missing here? Link to screenshot



is it possible to render it on vray? 

Thank you

blockyear's picture

Not certain which "it" you wish to render.  Heliotrope itself is not a renderer... it shows you how the sun will project geometry. If you are looking to render the vectors and curves that Heliotrope creates, you can bake them into Rhino objects and render them at will from there. Otherwise we're really talking about two different beasts.

    - B -


blockyear's picture

You might be able to control VRay from Heliotrope via the Revit sun settings. There is a Heliotrope component that connects from Grasshopper to the Rhino sun settings so you could potentially create an animation sequence from Grasshopper where the sun is updated in the Rhino model at each step and then a new VRay image is triggered to generate.  Would be fun to do.  Perhaps that is what you are looking for?  

jx1587's picture

You know when it was licenced i did not really considered using it but now i see that its free which is awesome cause you can get nealy all the things you need such as azimuth, sun angle, longtitute, altitude,time & date, sun path and sun vector. 

Thx to whoever made it free to everyone ;)


<strong>BUT</strong> There is a weird problem, when i can't see the actual place of the sun by hours ? Can you please confirm it ? Hours does change the sun vectors and shades but i can't see the sun position according to the hours. So Sun in sun path is totally a make up without a use right? 

Am i doing something wrong please confirm this guys. 


Ps: Rhino set does not work either. 

blockyear's picture

That would be me, thanks!

Sun Path is not useless, its just confusing :^)  The current component is not using the hour number to locate the sun, its using the offset input, a slider from 0-1, to locate the sun between sunrise and sunset.  So select your day value only, hook up a slider to the Offset (labeled Off) input, and zip back and forth between sunrise and sunset.

I've been promising to come up with a less confusing solution but haven't quite figured out the right answer yet. But will do. 

jx1587's picture

Whouv many thanks Brian, it seems that i passed over it. Now i can change sun position. I'm just curious about the rise time of the sun. For example, right now its set to 25.5.2014 Lat:51.5 Long:0.12 (def north) and Solar Day Events give me Rise at 3:54 , Noon at 11:56 , Set at 19:57 but when i check here, i see than in London sunrise is 4.56 at the same date. Did i do something wrong ? Can you please check it? 


blockyear's picture

Hi jx- Daylight savings time is messing you up. London adds 1 hour on March 30th this year (see http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/timezone.html?n=136)

The remaining two minutes difference could be due to a variety of causes...

Dear Brian:
I have download the newest version. I am going to study and enjoy it, It is about time that I will apply the Heliotrope into my next project. I‘d appreciate your teaching of this powerful GH plugin!
George Zhuziye

blockyear's picture

Heads up on a new Version 2.0 coming! I'm diligently working away on some very interesting extensions to Heliotrope. Hope to have it available in the next week (was planning for May 1 but Smartgeometry in London got in the way) Will post here and on the Grasshopper3d group.

- Brian -

chente922's picture

Hi Brian,
Is there new license coming out since it's already past May 1, 2013. Thank you!

blockyear's picture

Hi Chente-

I'm not posting a further open trial license for v1. Happy to provide individually, however. Please contact me at heliotrope@slateshinglestudio.com.


- Brian -

blockyear's picture

No worries, I know it's confusing and I'm working on a better system!

fraguada's picture

Hello Brian,
I am using this latest version on Rhino 5 x64 with Grasshopper for Rhino 5. When constructing the dates, I often get an error in the components that say "Error: Requested value ' ' was not found." Often, if I just plug the value back into the component, the error goes away. I do not change anything, jut plug the same value in. It sort of goes on like this every other time I plug something in. Makes the library unusable unfortunately. This is a shame because you have a nice set of components which I found very useful in the past.

blockyear's picture

Hi Fraquada- Sorry for the difficulty! Question, do you have a current license file in the components directory from which you are loading Heliotrope? Should be called "HeliotropeLicense.xml". I believe there is an issue wherein the a missing file will cause similar behavior.

- B -

fraguada's picture

My sincere apologies, I failed to read the installation section of your PDF manual where you clearly outline this. Yes, I did find that xml file. I will be writing you shortly to request a license.

blockyear's picture

Hello All-

I've updated the 1.1 release to extend full functionality through May 1, 2013. Sorry for the confusion re licensing, for various reasons I'm asked to keep track of my free and paid user communities and the only mechanism I have to do that is through edu licensing. Please contact me for more information and a longer duration license.
There is a 1.2 release in the works as well, some nice new components and I'll make the license info much more friendly. Look for it by the end of February.


- Brian -

Hi everyone,
I want to use Heliotrope for my dissertation, however it gives me an error while I am installing it in my grasshopper. I need your help


wyx10022's picture

happy new year!
it seems that version1.1 has been expired.
when can we fix that problem?

I'm having the same problem. Does anyone know how/when this can be fixed/updated?

snuuu's picture

Hi there,
I was using Heliotrope and it was working great - until now. I also get a message saying EXPIRED using v

Will this be fixed?

Mamou-Mani's picture

Hi Brian,
Thank you very much for your plugin. I used it once and it worked but now it says: component expired please update at http://slateshinglestudio.com which I did but it still displays the message.

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