The Mostly 3D Printed Violin


While Thingiverse is filled with Ocarinas, there’s little in the way of printable instruments for more serious musicians. [David Perry] hopes to change this with the F-F-Fiddle, the mostly 3D printed full-size electric violin.

The F-F-Fiddle is an entry for the LulzBot March 3D Printing Challenge to make a functional, 3D printed musical instrument. Already there are a few very, very interesting submissions like this trombone, but [David]‘s project is by far the most mechanically complex; unlike the other wind and percussion instruments found in the contest, there are a log of stresses found in a violin, and printing a smooth, curved fingerboard is quite the challenge.

While there are a few non-printed parts, namely the strings, a drill rod used as a truss rod, some awesome looking tuners, and of course the piezo pickups – the majority of this violin, including the bridge, is 3D printed. It’s an amazing piece of work, and after listening to the video (below), sounds pretty good too.

You can grab all the files on Thingiverse and read up on the build at Openfab PDX.


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Mug Music Is Good to the Last Drop

[Bonnie] is majoring in CS at Princeton and minoring in Awesome. She is taking an electronic music class and had to produce a digital instrument for her midterm project. She and her friend [Harvest] came up with Mug Music, which turns a ceramic mug of water into an instrument.

The circuit is very easy to replicate with an Arduino, a coil, and a few resistors and capacitors. [Bonnie] wanted to experiment with Disney Research Lab’s Touché method of touch detection, and Mug Music is based on this Touché for Arduino Instructable. The inputs are turned into MIDI notes with ChucK, a real-time sound synthesis language developed at Princeton.

As you may have guessed and will see in the demonstration video after the jump, you aren’t limited to touching the water. The entire mug will produce sounds as well. [Bonnie] says you can trigger a thunderclap if you touch the water and a grounded surface simultaneously.

This would be a great project to explore with kids, especially as a music therapy vehicle for kids on the autism spectrum. It isn’t as physical as these portable musical stairs, but it may draw less attention from lawyers.

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Prophet 600: A Classic Synthesizer Gets Processor Upgrade


We love classic synthesizers here at Hackaday. So does [gligli], but he didn’t like the processor limitations of the Prophet 600. That’s why he’s given it a new brain in the form of a Teensy++. The Sequential Circuits Prophet 600 was a big deal when it was released back in 1982/1983. The 600 was the first commercially available synthesizer to include a MIDI interface. The original design of the 600 could be called a hybrid. A Zilog Z80 microprocessor controlled modular analog voice chips. The Z80 was a bit stressed in this configuration though, and a few limitations were evident. An 8 bit processor just wasn’t quite enough for software driven envelopes and a Low Frequency Oscillator (LFO) control. This was further exacerbated by the fact that everything was driven through a 14 bit DAC.

[gligli] discovered most of the limitations in the 600 were due to the processor. By beefing up the processing power he could really unlock the potential within 600. Since he didn’t actually have a Prophet 600, he started with the schematic. [gligli] created a PC based emulator for the digital circuits, learning the whole system as he worked. With that phase complete, [gligli] bought a used Prophet and started hacking. The Teensy++ required a few hardware mods to fill the Z80′s shoes, including cutting off a pin and adding a few jumper wires. We really like the fact that no changes to the Prophet 600 itself are required. Pull out the Teensy++, drop in the Z80, and you’re ready to party like it’s 1982 again.

The new processor interfaces directly with the Z80′s 8 bit bus. Since the AVR on the Teensy has built-in RAM and ROM, it simply ignores the ROM and RAM address spaces of the original system. Interfacing a fast micro with older parts like an 8253 timer and a 68B50 UART does have its pitfalls though. The system bus had to run slow enough to not violate timing requirements of the various peripheral chips. To handle this, [gligli] added a number of wait statements in his firmware. Once the system was working, [gligli] was free to start adding new features. He began by smoothing out the stepped envelope and filter generators, as well as adding new exponential modes. From there he added new keyboard polyphony modes as well as pitch and mod wheel changes. The full lineup of new features are listed in the instruction manual (PDF link). Since this is an open source project, adding a feature is as simple as cracking open your favorite editor and writing it up.

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Build Your Own Elektrosluch 2 and save €45


[Jonas] over at LOM Instruments is running an Indiegogo campaign for his newest creation, Elektrosluch 2. Like it’s predecessor, Elektrosluch 2 is a means to listen to the electromagnetic sounds of the world around you. Fans, computers, cell phones, routers, and just about anything electronic create strange and interesting sounds when probed with Elektrosluch 2. The campaign seems to be doing well enough with its target audience of experimental music and audio folks. However at €45 ($62.37) it’s a bit pricey for our blood. Unfortunately, [Jonas] hasn’t open sourced the project. All hope is not lost though, as Elektrosluch 2 appears to be simple enough that our astute readers should be able to build their own.

The concept is easy to understand: a coil of wire placed within a magnetic field will have an induced current proportional to the strength of the field. Electric Guitar pickups operate on the same basic principles. [Jonas] appears to be using two coils – probably tuned to different frequencies. We’re talking about relatively small magnetic fields here, so the signal will need to be amplified. In the Elektrosluch 2, the amplifier is an 8 pin SOIC which we can’t quite make the label out on. A few capacitors and resistors limit the bandwidth to audio frequencies.

[Alan Yates] created a similar circuit to diagnose dead Christmas lights. In [Alan's] case, he used a pin instead of a coil. Two transistors and a handful of discrete components performed the amplification duties.

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Hacked Turntable Plays a Tree’s Rings Instead of Records


Here’s another one of those crazy, weird, artsy-style hacks. Somebody decided to see what tree rings sound like by making this rather unorthodox turntable.

All things considered, the cross-section of a tree trunk does kind of resemble a vinyl record. [Bartholomäus Traubeck] noticed this and decided to see what would happen if you could listen to it.

Of course… it’s not quite that simple. When you cut a slice of wood, you’re not leaving any grooves in the rings, so you can’t just throw it on a slightly modified record player. What [Traubeck] had to do was engineer a record player with a Playstation Eye camera strapped to the end of the arm — simple image recognition software creates a signal based on the pattern of the rings, knots, and other imperfections in the wood. This is then filtered into a program called Albeton Live, and converted into a very angst-y piano track.

Take a listen and let us know what you think!

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The Tannin DIY MIDI Controller


[Shantea] needed a DJ controller. While there are commercial controllers out there, none of them fit what he was looking for. He solved the problem by building the Tannin DIY MIDI controller. Tannin features 19 buttons, 16 potentiometers, and 4 LEDs. Buttons can send different MIDI messages for short presses and long presses. Pots can send 6 note on/off messages as well as MIDI control messages depending on their position. The LEDs blink in beat with the MIDI in clock. Everything is programmable and can be mapped thousands of different ways. The heart of the system is an Arduino Nano. [Shantea] used the hairless-midi library to convert MIDI to serial. The Arduino interfaces to a PC via serial over USB. On the host PC side, he ran loopbe30 to create a virtual MIDI cable to Traktor, his DJ software.

We love a build that looks just as good on the inside as on the outside, and Tannin doesn’t fail to impress in this respect. The frame is MDF, and the control panel is laser etched plastic on 3mm of Plexiglass. We really like Tannin’s flavone flair. Inside the case, wiring is kept organized and neat by zip ties and strips of wood below the button grid. [Shantea] had some noise issues connecting pots to flying wires, so he used a custom printed circuit board with a ground plane to gang the pots into 2 banks of 8. The results are something any controllerist would be proud of. Click past the break to see Tannin in action.

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This Party Jukebox is Bigger on the Inside


In honor of the recent 50th anniversary of Doctor Who, [David Prouty] decided to build a 1/3rd scale replica of the Tardis. He also decided to give it a few extra features on the inside… Introducing the Recycled Tardis Jukebox! 

It was constructed primarily out of recycled cardboard boxes (pizza, FedEx, UHaul, etc) and [David] has done an amazing job painting and detailing it!

Since it’s so big, [David] wanted it to be functional too, so he’s added Bluetooth speakers, sound activated lights, disco balls, and even a fog machine on the inside. It’s all controlled wirelessly by remote, and it’s sure to be a hit at any party he decides to throw.

Stick around for the videos showing it in action — and of course, making our favorite sound VWORRRRRP VWRORRRP VWORRRP!

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