Roll your own parabolic microphone

Parabolic microphones are used to listen in from a distance. You see them on the sidelines of NFL football games, but they’re part of the standard issue in detective and spy novels. Now you can build your own parabolic microphone by following this example.

The one component that may be hard to find is the parabolic reflector. You cannot simply use a bowl or other curved object as the precise parabolic shape ensures that sound waves are reflected onto one finite focal point. For this build the reflector was obtained from an eBay seller. But the other parts are scavenged from easy to find sources. The microphone itself is an inexpensive element from Radioshack. It is mounted in the shell from a tweeter speaker, which helps to gather the sound if the element isn’t exactly aligned with the focal point. The setup also needs a preamplification system, which uses many components. Luckily there’s a schematic and other reference material linked in the write up.

You can also build a laser microphone which detects sound waves on a pane of glass.

[Thanks Anonymous]

Machine offers cheap advice – charges more for something profound

[Nick Johnson] recently wrote in, sharing a neat project he put together in his spare time.

Our readers are most likely familiar with the ubiquitous “fortune” program that ships with many *nix distros, offering cheeky comments and quotes with the press of a button. [Nick] thought it would be cool to build a fortune telling machine using the app, resulting in the handsome device you see above.

The laser-cut wooden case is home to a Raspberry Pi which does the heavy lifting, a coin acceptor, an LCD screen for displaying the device’s status, along with a SparkFun thermal printer. Upon feeding the machine some money, the user can press the “Advise Me” button, prompting the RaspPi to present a printed fortune from its vast database of sayings. [Nick] took some time to do some rough categorization of the fortune databases, enabling the machine to offer more substantial content as the user inputs more coins.

Check out the video below to see [Nick’s] fortune telling machine in action.

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