Synkie: the modular synth for video

The folks at [anyma] have been working on an analog video processor called Synkie for a while now, and we’re amazed a project this awesome has passed us by for so long.

Like a Moog or Doepfer synth, the Synkie was developed with modularity in mind. So far, [anyma] has built modules to split and combine the sync and video signals, and modules to invert, add, subtract, mix, filter and amplify those signals. The end result of all this video processing produces an output that can look like a glitched Atari, art installation, and scrambled cable station all at the same time.

The Synkie’s output reminds us of the original Doctor Who title sequence, and actually this idea isn’t far off the mark – both use video feedback that will produce anything from a phantasmagoric ‘flying through space’ aesthetic to a fractal Droste effect visualization. We’re impressed with Synkie’s capabilities, but we’re astounded by the [anyma] crew’s ability to control a video signal in real time to get what they want.

Check out a video of the Synkie after the jump. There’s also more footage of the Synkie in action on the Synkie Vimeo channel.

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Learning electronics concepts step by step

arduino

We realize that not everyone out there holds a degree in electrical engineering or has the ability to tell NPN transistors apart from PNP transistors by taste alone, so we occasionally like to mention things that appeal to the beginners in the crowd. While there is a clear division between Arduino supporters and detractors, it is hard to deny that the devices have their place, and can be quite useful when exploring certain electronics concepts.

For the supporters out there, [John Boxall] has put together a site jam-packed with Arduino tutorials covering a wide array of concepts and techniques. We have covered his work before in relation to specific topics, but we felt that his site deserved mention as a whole. His tutorials cover some of the most basic concepts such as lighting LEDs with the Arduino, and work their way to more advanced subjects, lesson by lesson.

He is not satisfied with simply introducing a concept and handing out a sketch that does the work. He takes the time to expand on the concepts, giving the reader enough detail to use their new-found knowledge in later projects. If you were to follow his tutorials from beginning to end, you would be exposed to LCD screen control, shift registers, real-time clocks, I2C bus communications, and more. These skills and concepts can be carried on to future projects as well as other micro controllers, making his tutorials a very valuable learning tool worth checking out.

Generating music with credit cards

mozarts_credit_card

[Steve] was browsing around at a local electronics surplus store when he spotted an old Tranz 330 point-of-sale terminal that seemed pretty interesting. He took it home and after disassembling it, found that it contained a Z-80 based computer. Because the 330 shares the same processor as other hobbyist-friendly devices such as the TRS-80, he figured it would be quite fun to hack.

While the Z-80 processor is pretty common, [Steve] still had to figure out how it was interfaced in this particular device. After spending some time reverse engineering the terminal, he had free reign to run any program he desired. After thinking for a bit, he decided it would be cool to use the terminal to generate music based on whatever card was swiped through the reader – he calls his creation “Mozart’s Credit Card”.

He found that just playing sounds based on the raw contents of the mag strips didn’t produce anything coherent, so he wrote a small application for the terminal based on the Melisma Stochastic Melody Generator. Music is generated somewhat randomly using various card characteristics, as you can see in the video below.

We think it’s pretty cool, but [Steve] says he’s always open to suggestions, so let us know what you think in the comments.

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