ToorCamp call for papers/participation


We’ve been watching and waiting intently as ToorCamp comes together. It’s a four day hacker conference that will be held in a Washington state missile silo July 2nd-5th. While we’re excited about this debut event, its success depends entirely on those presenting. The call for papers is currently open and they’ve got a number of formats available: 20 and 50 minute talks and 1 and 2 day workshops. They’re also looking for people to organize campsites and are offering discounts for groups. We’re encouraging you to submit your talk since we’d love to see more hardware talks. You can follow @ToorCamp announcements on Twitter.

Automated drum


A team of three PhD students constructed this ‘multi-mallet automatic drumming instrument (Madi)‘. Their Expressive Machines Musical Instruments site is dedicated to building instruments like this and they recently showed their work at the first annual Guthman Musical Instrument Competition. A ‘low-stakes X Prize’ for musical instruments. 25 applicants were chosen to show their unique musical instruments for $10K in prizes. We like the team’s Madi because it’s adapting a traditional instrument and then pushing it to the limit. It reminds us of the Crazy J mechatronic guitar from 2005. You can see a video of the Madi playing below.

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[Jeremy] picked up a Vexplorer pretty cheap, and wanted to make it better. He decided that Arduino controls would probably be a nice upgrade. He patched into the controller and installed a nice looking plug to interface with the Arduino. He says the software was custom made as he couldn’t find suitable examples on the net. His software is available for download. We covered a picaxe controlled one in January, but it looks like that site is currently down.

The Narcisystem


The Narcisystem is part of an art display where [Eric] strapped himself to as many biometric sensors as he could. The core of the system was a Funnel IO which includes an Arduino, Xbee plug, and LiPo charging circuit. It was collecting data from a heart rate monitor, an EEG, a breathalyzer, compass, and an accelerometer. This data was sent to a laptop and then sent to different displays. You can see the setup functioning in a video after the break. The red flashes are his heart beat, the blue light is the direction he’s facing. What you can’t see is the high power bass thud every time he takes a step. The EEG data was supposed to effect the tempo of the music, but it failed and was dropped, as was the fog machine based on his blood alcohol level. He notes that he wanted to do more, but was lacking the hardware.

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Macro photography with CHDK


[Tim] photographs insects for As you can imagine, macro photography is a must. He was very frustrated with his camera’s stock ability to capture the insects. You can see in the example on his site that the image is blurry and has some color issues. He did some research and hacked together a method of getting fantastic macro images for relatively cheap. He used the reversed lens method to get his macro lens set up. He then modded his camera with CHDK for more control. He found that his focal distance was too small to get the entire bug in focus, so he took 15 images at different distances and combined them to make the final image. We’re curious how the pringles can macro lens would compare to this. Thanks for the submission [sp'ange]. Lets see some more tips.

Distance detecting pc


Reader [Joshua] sent in his latest project. using a sonar rangefinder, an Arduino, and some clever programming, he’s made is computer react to his distance from it. As you can see in the video after the jump, he has programmed it to change text size and background color depending on his distance from the screen. While he admits that his implementation doesn’t seem immediately useful, there’s lots of potential¬† there. We can actually think of several uses. What would you use it for?

Banjo hero


We’ve posted a plethora of Guitar Hero style hardware hacks, but this one is completely different than the others. Behold, the Banjo hero. This unique controller was constructed from an old banjo and a guitar hero controller. Custom software was then built with custom songs for game play. We really wish we could see it in action. There are a couple videos available for download, but they are just pictures of the build process.

[via Boing Boing]