Servoelectric guitar is a keytar with strings

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[Keith Baxter] has undertaken something of a ‘Mount Everest’ of guitar modifications. He’s developing a Servoelectric guitar that trades frets for a keypad. It is still a guitar in the sense that it has a body, strings, and pickups to sense the strings vibrations and pass them to an amplifier. The left hand, which traditionally would shorten the strings as needed by pressing them against a fret, now changes string pitch using a keypad. This is an interesting fusion between traditional guitar and 80’s phenomenon, the keytar.

Each string is connected to a different servo motor. When a key on the keypad is pressed, the corresponding servo adjusts the tension of that string, bringing it in tune at the new pitch. His original design involved a lot of custom circuitry but he’s evolved the project to include an Arduino controller. This second generation both simplifies the control circuitry and improves upon it.

We’ve embedded some video after the break. In the first example you can see the strings adjusting for each new pitch. In the second, take a look behind the guitarist… what do you think he’s got planned for those giant capacitors?

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Physical email notification

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One day computers will exist in every part of our lives. You’ll be standing in the shower, lathering up  when Chantal, your holographic computer controlled AI partner, informs you in a cool voice you have a new email. How splendid, it must be the office letting you know there is no work today! “Anything else?” You ask; “Negative” her electronically synthesized voice responds.

Over at TINYenormous they’ve made this dream come true – minus the holographic computer controlled AI partner bit. Rather its simply a physical email notification system consisting of an LED and Arduino with some python code. We like the concept but prefer our Google Desktop with Gmail setup instead. Perhaps by using a small wireless server and rechargeable batteries, it could make a great dinner table centerpiece notifying you of the latest email. How simple, or how complicated would you make a setup?

[Thanks Madmaze]

[Update]

Rob created a very nice USB version.

Dan made a wireless version from XBee modules and includes an LCD.

J4mie is the original inspiration for the project.

Have your own notification system? Tell us in the comments, And we’ll place it here!

Cold cathode art piece controller

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[Andrew] built a light box for an exhibition last year that displayed different colors statically. After showing it off, it went unchanged but future improvements remained in the back of his mind. Recently, he pulled it out again and hacked together a controller to drive the colors individually.

He’s actually reusing some of the hardware he built for a different project. At its core is a PIC 16F628 that actuates the lights using relays. In this case, only four of the eight on the board are used to control red, white, blue, and green cold cathode tubes. The video after the break shows the device randomly rotating through different patterns. This is a nice start to making the piece more interactive and we can image adding web-controlled color changes, or perhaps some Daft Punk inspired functionality.

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Didgeridoo modded to include electronic manipulation

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It’s not a bazooka, but this altered instrument makes it look like the player is toking off of some type of weapon. [Kyle] wanted to take the already mysterious sounds produced by a didgeridoo then capture and alter them electronically.

The physical build of this project is nothing short of beautiful. He’s mounted several curved control boards to the outside of the instrument. The controls feature six push buttons, five toggle switches, and six potentiometers that interface with an Arduino. The sound is picked up by the device then sent along with the switch settings to a computer via Bluetooth. The computer then works its magic to create the wicked audio effects heard in the video after the break.

His article, linked above, includes several diagrams detailing the synthesis process. They’re a little beyond our understanding but if you know what’s going on, please share your insight in the comments.

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