Turning music into a light show

[nickinoki] Made a light show using some amplifiers and an arduino. First he created a microphone circuit based around a LM386 Audio Amplifier. After amplifying the output of the microphone a second time, he uses three bandpass filters to block all but a few desired frequencies from reaching the arduino.  By only letting a few frequencies through the arduino is able to determine if the song is louder at higher or lower frequencies.  Then using the three analogue inputs he created a scheme for generating the light show on an arduino. While he was unable to achieve the exact target frequencies with his bandpass filters they worked well enough to allow him to successfully generate the light show.

Reverse Engineering a PCB

Occasionally when a device breaks, the defect is obvious. Whether it is a blown fuse or a defective capacitor, generally the easy to see stuff is easy to fix. When a problem is more subtle, or when doing some more advanced tasks like adding functionality to a device, greater knowledge about a circuit board is required. While there might be details hidden in lower levels of PCB, often just knowing the mounted components and layout of the outside layers can be enough to create a rough schematic of a device. [Throbscottle] has put together an excellent guide for procedurally breaking down a photo of a board and turning it in to something useful. The guide utilizes some open source image processing software such as the GIMP, Inkscape, and Dia, all of which are widely available. Keep in mind this reverse engineering can be a time consuming process, but will almost definitely reward those patient enough to work through it.

[Thanks to everyone who sent this in!]

High Voltage Etch a Sketch

What do you get when you mix a simple X/Y plotter, a Flyback transformer, and an unhealthy disregard for safety? Possibly the worlds most dangerous jumbo Etch a Sketch! [Kalboon] started off by making an imprecise X/Y movement device, similar to a CNC machine setup, but with less emphasis on precision. This rig is powered by some commonly salvagable materials, including an old scanner, a remote control car, and some hobby servos. We like this approach because most of these materials could be scrounged from a parts bin, surplus sale, or craigslist for little to no actual cost. The flyback transformer comes from an old TV or monitor, though if you have common sense safety concerns, we would recommend just mounting a dry erase marker and a dry erase board to substitute out the high voltage bits. For people wanting a low cost introduction project to making a CNC or Makerbot style build, this isn’t a bad place to start.

No more blurry pictures

Say goodbye to ruined images thanks to this add-on hardware. It measures the movement of the camera when a picture is taken and corrects the image to get rid of motion blur. Above you see a high-speed camera which is just there for testing and fine-tuning the algorithm that fixes the photos. Once they got it right, the setup that the camera is attached to only includes an Arduino board, Bluetooth modem, 3-axis accelerometer, gyroscope, and a trigger for the camera. You use the new hardware to snap each image and it takes care of triggering the SLR’s shutter in order to ensure that the inertial data and the image are synchronized correctly.

[Thanks Rob]

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