MIDI Melodies Make Moody Milieu

MIDI piano lights

In this beautiful, well-documented, cat-assisted hack, [capricorn1] adds visual dimension to his impressive piano skills by using his keyboard’s MIDI output to drive Edison bulbs.

He hung them from a rod of electrical conduit pipe and threaded the wires through it to a DB25 connector. The lights are controlled by an Arduino Mega plus a custom shield with an optocoupler to handle zero cross detection. He happened to already have a board with 12 SSRs on it from another project. All of the electronics are in a re-purposed switch box—the switches control four different modes: classic, velocity, scrolling, and automatic. You’ll see the scrolling mode in the video after the jump.

[capricorn1] used a small sampling of the Arduino MIDI Library, namely the note on/off functions and the control change function to handle his sustain pedal. He’s listed the full code for the project, which includes usage of the ipMIDI module for automation over WiFi.

If you don’t have a MIDI keyboard or any Edison bulbs, you could make a MIDI floor piano. You’re required to play both “Chopsticks” and “Heart and Soul” on it, though. Those are like the Hello, World for floor pianos.

[Read more...]

3D Printed Portal Turret Searches And Destroys

Portal Turret Prop

Ah yes, Portal — one of the most iconic puzzle games from this past decade by Valve. [Yvo] just put the finishing touches on his fully 3D printed, working, Portal Turret. Well — it doesn’t have guns — but it does just about everything else!

This intricate prop replica has attention to detail written all over it. [Yvo's] carefully designed it to actuate as close to the video game model as possible. Its eye and arms move, has a targeting laser and even features a camera for color based object tracking. You can also play around with it using a joystick — but it’s much more fun to leave on autonomous mode.

Because the whole thing is 3D printed, [Yvo] has also made up an Instructable for making your own, and according to him, it’s not that hard to build! This isn’t his first rodeo either, if you remember the awesome GlaDOS we shared last year — that’s his too.

[Read more...]

3D Printed Trays for your Pick and Place Machine

3dprintedPNPTray Pick and Place machines are one of the double-edged swords of electronics.They build your boards fast, but if you don’t have everything setup perfectly, they’ll quickly make a mess. A pick and place can’t grab a resistor from a pile and place it – so far only humans can pull that one off. They need parts organized and oriented in reels or trays.

[Parker Dillmann] had to load some parts, but didn’t have a tray for them, so he 3D printed his own. [Parker] works at a small assembly house in Texas. He’s working on a top secret design which includes FFC connectors. Unfortunately, the connectors shipped in pick and place unfriendly tubes rather than reels. If he couldn’t find a tray, [Parker] would have to hand place those connectors as a second operation, which would increase the time to build each board and leave more chances for mistakes.

Rather than place each part by hand, [Parker] got in touch with his friend [Chris Kraft] who is something of a 3D printing guru. [Chris] confirmed that a 3D printed tray would be possible, though the PLA he prints with was not static safe. That was fine for the connectors, but [Parker] was hoping to save some tray space by putting his PSOC4 chips in the printed tray as well.

[Parker] used SketchUp to design a tray that would fit his Madell DP2006-2 pick and place. He left .15mm clearance around the parts – just enough to cover any inaccuracies during printing, but not enough to throw off parts placement. He sent the STL file over to [Chris] who used Simplify3D to a create a Gcode file. [Chris] printed the tray at .2 mm layer height on his MakerGear M2 printer, and the results looked great. Would they be good enough for the pick and place machine?

[Parker] received the printed trays in the mail and loaded them with parts. The pick and place had no problem finding and placing the connectors, making this job a huge success. [Parker] even left room for the PSOC4 chips.He plans to paint the tray with anti-static paint before giving them at try.

We really like this story – it’s a perfect example of how 3D printers can speed up processes in manufacturing. Now that the basic design is done, creating new trays is a snap. Nice work [Parker] and [Chris]! [Read more...]

THP Hacker Bio: Bradley Worley

thp-contestant-bio-bradley-worley

Somehow we picked two people in a row who are working on lab equipment as part of The Hackaday Prize. This is just a coincidence; we’re picking hackers who we think will be quite interesting to learn about.

Meet [Bradley Worley]. His contest entry is PyPPM, a Proton Precession Magnetometer which will be used for Nuclear Magnetic Resonance experiments. The “Py” at the beginning reflects the use of the Python API for control.

Let’s see what he’s all about:

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Call A Cell Phone, Find A Tent

relay Finding your tent at a music festival is a tricky endeavor – not only are there miles and miles of tents exactly like yours, you most likely have a few beers or other substances in you that affect your sense of space and/or time.  [James] came up with a great solution to finding your tent by illuminating it with Christmas lights and a cell phone.

The basic idea of [James]‘ build is having Christmas light flicker whenever he calls a phone. One feature in nearly every phone that can be exploited to accomplish this task is the backlight turning on when a call is received. Add a phototransistor, a little bit of circuitry, and some Christmas lights, and you have a fully functioning tent finder.

[James]‘ circuit is a simple relay driving the Christmas lights, triggered by a phone right on top of the phototransistor. It’s a simple circuit that can be built on a piece of veroboard, and with a few pieces of plastic forming the enclosure, provides a reasonably bulletproof device that will survive the rigors of a music festival. As a bonus, there’s no need to modify the phone to trigger a remote circuit. Video of the device in action below.

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Net Neutrality: FCC Hack is a Speed Bump on the Internet Fast Lane

Highway at Night

Net neutrality is one of those topics we’ve been hearing more and more about in recent years. The basic idea of net neutrality is that all Internet traffic should be treated equally no matter what. It shouldn’t matter if it’s email, web sites, or streaming video. It shouldn’t matter if the traffic is coming from Wikipedia, Netflix, Youtube, etc. It shouldn’t matter which Internet Service Provider you choose. This is the way the Internet has worked since it’s inception. Of course, not everyone agrees that this is how things should stay. We didn’t always have the technology to filter and classify traffic. Now that it’s here, some believe that we should be able to classify internet traffic and treat it differently based on that classification.

It seems like much of the tech savvy community argues that net neutrality is a “given right” of the Internet. They believe that it’s the way the Internet has always been, and always should be. The other side of the argument is generally lobbied by Internet service providers. They argue that ISP’s have the right to classify Internet traffic that flows through their equipment and treat it differently if they so choose. As for everyone else, just about everyone these days relies on the Internet for business, banking, and entertainment but many of those people have no idea how the Internet works, nor do they really care. It’s like the electricity in their home or the engine in their car. As long as it’s working properly that’s all that matters to them. If they can check Facebook on their phone while watching Breaking Bad on Netflix in full HD, why should they care how that stuff gets prioritized? It work’s doesn’t it? [Read more...]

The Development Of A Lightweight Wireless Protocol

BANO[Texane] had been thinking about how to monitor the state of his garage door from a remote place. The door itself isn’t around any power outlets, and is a few floors away from where his server would be located in his apartment. This presented a few design challenges – namely, the sensor itself should have a wireless connection to the server, and being low power would be a great idea. This led to the development of a minimalist framework for wireless communication that allows a sensor to run for weeks without a battery swap.

The wireless protocol itself is based on a simple key value pair; each individual sensor, coupled with a NRF905 radio, has passes an address, a key, and a value. There are allowances for checksums and acknowledgement, but as the PDF says, this is a very minimal protocol.

With the software out of the way, [Texane] turned to the hardware. The microcontroller is a simple Arduino clone, paired with a radio and a coin cell on a small board. The micro spends most of its time in a low power state, with the sensor, in this case a reed switch, tied to an interrupt pin.

There was a problem with the power consumption of the radio, though: when the short 17-byte message was transmitting, there was a significant voltage drop. This was okay with a fully charged battery, but with a partially drained coin cell, the possibility of brownouts was high. A big cap in parallel was enough to offset this voltage drop.

It’s still a little expensive for an all-in-one home automation and monitoring system, but developing a functional wireless protocol and the hardware to go with it is no small feat. It’s actually a great piece of kit that [Texane] is sure to find a few uses for.

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