Player guitar sounds wonderful; makes us drool because of the complexity

It becomes obvious when you listen to this player guitar that it’s not a human being playing. But the only reason for that is the unrelenting precision with which the songs are played. In addition to that accuracy, it’s interesting to note that this tune is normally played by a group of guitarists but here the machine manages to do it on one instrument. And we think it sounds fantastic!

This comes from [Vladimir Demin], a maker who previously built an automatic Bayan (like an accordion but with buttons where the keyboard is normally found). This time around it’s the six strings and many frets of a guitar that have been outfitted with one solenoid each. In the image above you can see the strumming mechanism mounted near the tone hole. Six picks are held in place, and it appears that each has two solenoids. From what we can observe in the video, one of the solenoids is used to strum the sting, the other tilts the pick mount so that there won’t be a second strumming when the pick is returned to its starting position.

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Hackaday Links: May 21, 2012

Turning anything into a touch sensor

Makey Makey is a small board with a USB plug and bunch of contact points for alligator clips. Plug the Makey into your computer and attach just about anything to the contacts, and you can make anything into a video game controller, a keyboard, a piano, or pretty much anything you can imagine. If [Sprite_tm] copied it, you know it has to be cool.

RepRaps will finally cost a million dollars

The Pentagon is throwing money at 3D printers. It’s “only” $60 Million the DoD is putting into 3d printer research, but hopefully our most brilliant researchers will help refine some of the ‘unsolved problems’ – like metal and circuit printing – the 3D printer community is facing.

Getting started with FPGAs

[Tim] found a neat little $40 FPGA board aimed right at the hobby hacker. The good news: It’s compatible with Arduino shields, and it’s very cheap. The bad news: it only has 1280 logic cells, so you probably won’t be emulating CPUs on this thing. If anyone has a teardown / project with this board, send it in.

Improving a Bluetooth dongle with a bit of wire

Unsurprisingly, the extremely cheap Bluetooth dongle [Mike] bought on eBay didn’t have great reception or range. No problem, because you can just replace the internal antenna with a piece of wire cut to length. Now bluetooth devices are recognized instantly, and there are no Bluetooth ‘dead spots’ around [Mike]’s computer.

Come to France, make stuff

The Toulouse Hackerspace is having a little shindig this coming weekend (May 25-27) featuring a conference, workshop, concerts and performances. If you’re in the area, drop on by,

Hackit: Leap Motions new motion sensor

The big news circulating this morning is of the Leap Motion sensor that will be hitting the market soon. They claim that their sensor is ~100 more accurate than anything else on the market right now. Check out the video to see what they mean (there’s another at the link). This is pretty impressive.  You can see the accuracy as they use a stylus to write things. If you’ve played with the Kinect, you know that it is nowhere near this tight. Of course, the Kinect is scanning a massive space compared to the work area that this new sensor works in.  The response time looks very impressive as well, motions seem to be perfectly in sync with the input. We’re excited to play with one when we get a chance.

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3d printing a mini lathe

While browsing on one of our regularly visited sites, RobotsDreams, we found this interesting little video. Here, [Sublime] is showing off his 3d printed mini lathe. In the video he mentions that all the files are available for download so you could make one for yourself, but there were unfortunately no links. A quick bit of googling and we found some more information.  We found the project on Thiniverse, though reading through the comments it seems that [Sublime] no longer uses Thingiverse. You can now find the files on his GitHub account to make your own.

The design seems very solid and looks like it could handle some basic jobs. As [Sublime] points out in the video below, you already know what parts are going to wear out fast and can simply print a few extras to have on hand.  While that may seem somewhat wasteful, he also points out that he’s using PLA which is compostable and much easier to recycle.

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Light trikes allow you to pedal for your life

Unfortunately, none of our writers are located in California this year. This means that we weren’t able to go to the Bay Area MakerFaire and see the cool stuff for ourselves. We have been following along on the web though and a few projects have caught our eye. The rig you see above is a physical controller for a game that was inspired by the classic Tron light cycle. The gameplay is pretty obvious, you pedal the trike to go and turn the handlebars to turn your light tricycle. The hardware seems fairly simple, they’re using an arduino to collect information from the bike, then sending that through NetLab hub, a cross platform toolkit for taking data from a micro controller and feeding it to flash.  We think they did a fantastic job on the presentation, this actually looks like fun to play.

For some reason though, we want them to build a level that looks like the Stanley Hotel.

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Getting great bootlegs with the bootlegMIC

Go to any concert, show, or basement band practice, and you’ll find someone recording a bootleg. While these live recordings are sometimes fairly high quality, bootlegs recorded with a cell phone usually sound terrible. The guys over at Open Music Labs have a great solution to these poor quality recordings that only needs a few dollars worth of parts.

The project is called bootlegMIC. It’s a simple modification of an electret microphone – the same type of mic found in cellphones and bluetooth headsets – that allows for some very high quality recording in very noisy environments. According to the open music labs wiki, the modification is as simple as cutting a few traces on the PCB in an electret mic and soldering on a cap and a few resistors.

An electret mic contains a small JFET to amplify the signal coming from the microphone diaphragm; the specific JFET is selected by the manufacturer to ensure the microphone has the right gain and response. Usually these JFETs are chosen with the expectation of a relatively quiet environment, and trying to record a concert only results in a ton of distortion. By putting a resistor between the source of the JFET and ground of the microphone, it’s possible to reduce this distortion.

The circuit is easy enough to solder deadbug style, and should work with most cellphones. The guys at Open Music Lab were able to get their mic working with an iPhone, but they’re still working on figuring out the Android mic input. There’s a great demo video showing the improvement in audio quality; you can check that out after the break.

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