Black Orb Just Wants Someone To Talk With

spaceReplay

A team at the Royal College of Art has created Space Replay, a floating black orb that records and plays back conversations from passers-by. Space Replay is a neutrally buoyant helium balloon carrying a small payload. An Arduino, an Adafruit Wave Shield, and a small speaker make up the balloons’ brain. The team used the waverp library to record and play back sounds through their shield. 3 lithium coin cells power the system. A small vacuum formed plastic housing keeps all the internal parts together, as well as acts as a small speaker cone to amplify sounds entering and leaving the orb.

As the video shows, the final result is rather creepy. A slight breeze in a subway station caused the orb to move slowly down the hallway. One would think that space replay would freak a few people out, or at least entice the curious to touch it. Other than one amused elevator rider, the unflappable London public paid no mind to it. Maybe if it had some tea…

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A Speaking Ultrasonic Distance Sensor

speak

[Klaus] wanted some sort of aid for parking his car, and after running across a $4 ultrasonic sensor, decided to build his own speaking distance sensor (.de, Google Translation).

Inside [Klaus]‘ device is an Arduino Uno, an HC-SR04 ultrasonic distance sensor, and an Adafruit Wave Shield. Originally, this parking/distance sensor used a small TFT to display the distance to an object, but after a few revisions, [Klaus] redesigned the device to speak the current distance, courtesy of an SD card and a soothing female voice.

Right now, the voice is set up to speak the distance from an object to the sensor from 10 cm to 1 m in 5cm increments. This isn’t the limit of the sensor, though, and the device can be easily reconfigured to sense a distance up to four meters.

The board doesn’t have an amplifier or speaker, but with the addition of a small amplifier, [Klaus]‘ device is loud enough to be heard in even the noisiest environments.

Video demo below.

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Giving toys an electronic voice

sound

Whether it’s a Furby or Buzz Lightyear’s button that plays, ‘To infinity and beyond’, most digital audio applications inside toys are actually simple affairs. There’s no Arduino and wave shield, and there’s certainly no Raspi streaming audio from the Internet. No, the audio inside most toys are one or two chip devices capable of storing about a minute or so of audio. [makapuf] built an electronic board game for his kids, and in the process decided to add some digital audio. The result is very similar to what you would find in an actual engineered product, and is simple enough to be replicated by just about anyone.

[makapuf]‘s game is based on Game of the Goose, only brought into the modern world with electronic talking dice. An ATtiny2313 was chosen for the microcontroller and an AT45D 4 Megabit Flash module provided the storage for 8 bit/8khz audio.

The electronic portion of the game has a few functions. The first is calling out numbers, which is done by playing recordings of [makapuf] reading, ‘one’, ‘two’, ‘three’, … ‘twelve’, ‘thir-’, ‘teen’ and so on. This data is pumped out over a pin on the ATtiny through a small amplifier and into a speaker. After that, the code is a simple matter of keeping track of where the players are on the board, keeping score, and generating randomish numbers.

It’s an exceptional exercise in engineering, making a quite complicated game with a bare minimum of parts. [makapuf] estimated he spent under $4 in parts, so if you’re looking to add digital audio to a project on the cheap, we can’t imagine doing better.

You can see a video of [makapuf]‘s project after the break.

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Moostar — fortune telling moose knock-off of Zoltar

zoltare-the-fortune-telling-moose

Meet Moostar, the fortune-telling Moose inspired by Zoltar. You remember Zoltar, the coin operated fortune-teller who made [Tom Hanks] a rich movie star? Maybe you didn’t see that flick, but [Sketchsk3tch] did and he pulled this show piece together for a company-wide conference with relative ease.

If you’re good at choosing parts for your projects it makes things a lot simpler. He started with a singing Christmas moose, a mini plasma ball to act as the crystal ball, and somehow came across a collector’s basketball case which was the perfect size for the enclosure.

The electronics also came together remarkably well. He uses a thermal printer to spit out the fortunes — which are actually security tips for employees since that’s the dcpartment he works in. The coin acceptor is a Sparkfun part and he tried two ready made solutions to make the moose talk. The first is seen below and uses pre-recorded messages played by an Arduino Wave shield. This was improved upon by using an EMIC2 text-to-speech module that really opens up the moose’s range of chatter.

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NES annoyance timer makes no friends at your work

mario-annoyance-timer

Still trying to solidify that reputation as the office Grinch? This project will let everyone know you’re a complete jerk in no time. It’s called the 8-bit Annoying Person Remover. It detects when someone enters your office at which point it starts to play the Super Mario Bros. theme song while the display counts down 400 seconds. Just like in the game the music gets faster at the end and when it stops they know it’s time to get the heck out.

The hardware inside isn’t too complicated. An Arduino and a Wave shield do most of the work. The song played is stored on an SD card and can easily be changed. There’s a speaker mounted under the top heat vent of the enclosure. The device defaults to displaying the time of day, but monitors a motion sensor on one side to detect when someone comes through the door. This also works when someone leaves, cutting off the music and resetting the display. Don’t miss a video of it in action after the break.

It’s as if this was made specifically for the Comic Book Guy

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Arduino voice changer turns you into [Vader]

Halloween is just around the corner, so of course we’re looking forward to a bunch of awesome costumes put together by Hackaday readers. In an effort to match his voice to his costume, [Phil Burgess] over at Adafruit (and former Hackaday alumnus) put together an Arduino-powered voice changer to give his voice the gravitas of [James Earl Jones] or the lightheartedness of a member of the Lollipop Guild.

If you’ve ever played with a turntable, you’ll know playing a 33 RPM record at 45 or 78 RPM turns your treasured copy of Dark Side of the Moon into a lighthearted aural experience with a pitch that is much too high. Likewise, playing a single at 33 or 16 RPM means those once dulcet tones are now recordings of tormented souls in an acoustic hell.

[Phil]‘s voice changer operates on the same principle by recording sounds from a microphone into a circular array and playing them back at a different rate; faster if the desired effect is a Munchkin, and slower if this year’s Halloween costume will be a Sith lord.

The completed build incorporates a 10k pot to dynamically change the timbre of the voice changer, as well as an Adafruit Wave Shield to play back a few pre-recorded sounds of lightsabers clashing. In all, a very cool project for your Halloween costume that’s also a very good introduction to DSP and real-time audio modifications with a microcontroller.

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Zelda engagement ring box seals the deal

Congratulations to [John Scancella] and his wife to be. Their recent engagement was aided by one of [John's] projects. Since [Betsy] is a big fan of Zelda, he thought it would be fun to present the ring with the Zelda music playing in the background. He and a friend combined forces to build what you seen in this image.

The music is played by an Arduino with the help of a wave shield. This is pretty much a one-use item so battery life was never a concern. A magnetic switch was used to detect when the box was opened and start the music playing.

You can see the full-sized images after the break, but we can tell that [John] went with a traditional engagement ring. We’re still waiting to see if 3D printed rings are going to catch on in the geek scene. If you just can’t give her anything but precious metal there’s always the idea of encoding messages on the band itself.

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