Scratching Vinyl Straddles Physical and Digital Realms

The life of a modern DJ is hard. [Gergely] loves his apps, but the MIDI controller that works with the app feels wrong when he’s scratching, and the best physical interfaces for scratching only work with their dedicated machines. [Gergely]’s blog documents his adventures in building an interface to drive his iPad apps from a physical turntable. But be warned, there’s a lot here and your best bet is to start at the beginning of the blog (scroll down) and work your way up. Or just let us guide you through it.

In one of his earliest posts he lays out his ideal solution: a black box that interprets time-code vinyl records and emulates the MIDI output of the sub-par MIDI controller. Sounds easy, right? [Gergely] gets the MIDI side working fairly early on, because it’s comparatively simple to sniff USB traffic and emulate it. So now he’s got control over the MIDI-driven app, and the hard part of interfacing with the real world began.

After experimenting a lot with timecode vinyl, [Gergely] gives up on that and looks for an easier alternative. He also considers using an optical mouse, but that turns out to be a dead-end as well. Finally, [Gergely] settled on using a Tascam TT-M1, which is basically an optical encoder that sits on top of the record, and that makes the microcontroller’s job a lot easier. You can see the result in the video below the break.

And then in a surprise ending worthy of M. Night (“I see dead people”) Shyamalan  he pulls timecode vinyl out of the grave, builds up a small hardware translator, and gets his original plan working. But we have the feeling that he’s not done yet: he also made a 3D printed optical-mouse holder.

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Hackaday Munich: DJ Muallem, Workshop Info, and More

DJ Muallem

btn-get_ticketsIf you don’t have your ticket to the Hackaday Prize Party at Hackaday Munich you better scramble for one. We are excited to announce that [muallem] is the DJ for the event. He is the driving force behind the music at the Bob Beaman Club in Munich and is sure to deliver a set to remember. Don’t take our word for it, we’ve been cranking his Soundcloud channel for a couple of days now and it’s hard to wait the two weeks left before the party starts.

Workshop details whether you have a ticket or not

For those able to show up during the afternoon we have started to post details about the workshops. One point of confusion has been the All-day tickets versus the Workshop tickets. Here’s a rundown:

  • Workshop tickets were limited based on the hardware we are able to bring to the event with us.
  • All day tickets are welcome to participate in the workshops if you bring your own hardware to hack. Of course you are also welcome to come and watch, visit, or work on a completely separate hardware hack of your own!

If you have a ticket you’ll want to check out the details about getting a head start (by pre-loading embedded development software and learning a bit about the challenges). If you don’t have a workshop ticket we’re recommending hardware you can bring in order to participate.

So far we’ve posted about the Roboto and Moog workshops but will add details about Reverse Engineering and Computer Vision workshops soon!

The Hackaday Prize: Space Trip or Cash?

There has been a brewing debate about whether the winner of The Hackaday Prize (who will be revealed live at Hackaday Munich) will take the Trip to Space or grab the $196,418 in cash. Tell us which what you would do and why.

Cassette Tape Hack Turns Scratching into Sliding

It’s common to see a DJ use a turntable as a musical instrument. Physically manipulating a record while its playing produces its own unique sound, but it takes some finesse and puts strain on the delicate workings of the player when you do it. With this in mind, [Jeremy Bell] has refreshed the notion of appropriating old technology to create new sound with his home-brewed scrubboard.

Making use of a cassette tape, [Jeremy] dissected samples from the reel and laid them out in horizontal strips over rails to hold their form. The pickup from the tape player has been hacked into a separate piece that glides smoothly over these rails, giving the user the ease of control. To produce the immediate cutting effect that is less easy to perform with his device than a record player, [Jeremy] created an on and off switch which is simply a close pin covered in foil that teeters over a metal contact (in this case a coin). The end product sounds exactly like scratching a record, but better because he’s doing it with hacker showmanship. One can only image the awesome potential for more elaborate setups having multiple tape samples and the like!

There are a few different videos of the scrubboard in use on [Jeremy’s] website. He is also running a Kickstarter right now in order to turn the project into a stand alone instrument with improved features.

Thanks Omar, for telling us about this cool re-envisionment!

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Interactive Gloves Turn Gestures into Music

Imogen Heap wearing her Mi.Mu gloves

[Imogen Heap] is a UK-based musician who is trying to change the way we think about making music. She’s been working on a pair of gloves called the Mi.Mu, and they’re getting close to production.

In the included interview she explains that while computers and technology have brought many new advances to music, twiddling dials and pushing random buttons “is not very exciting for me, or the audience”. With these gloves, the artist becomes one with the music and interaction.

The current iteration of gloves use flex sensors along each finger to determine the movement (along with motion sensors for other gestures). She’s been through many designs and hopes to integrate e-materials into the next — using the actual glove as the sensor (not physical flex sensors).

She’s been working with both developers and musicians mapping the various motions of the gloves to music which makes sense in an intuitive way, and it’s very unique to see in action.

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Two hard disks and one DJ get down with no delay

Mixmaster [robelix] built a MIDI controller for DJs that uses two hard drives for scratching and cutting some wicked beats.

[robelix]’s project is called Hard DJ and was inspired by this earlier build capable of producing a droning appreciated chiptune music using the motor inside a hard drive. Instead of reading the out of phase sine waves produced when a hard drive platter is manually rotated, [robelix] used custom laser cut encoder wheels and an IR detector from old computer mice. This gives [robelix] far more resolution than would be possible by reading the drives stepper motors and allows him to scratch and cut to whatever his MC desires.

The electronics portion of the build are a little rough at this stage – just an Arduino Mega, a few buttons, and a trio of faders. [robelix] will be building a proper enclosure for his controller soon, something we can’t wait to see.

If you’d like to clone this DJ controller, all the files are up on the Git. Check out the video after the break.

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A mixer (re)built to travel

[Toby Cole] likes to mix tunes whenever he gets a chance. But the size of his DJ equipment made it a real bother to lug around with him. He does own a Behringer portable mixer but without cross faders it’s not really all that usable, and most of the other offerings don’t get good reviews. He ended up replacing the enclosure of a proper mixer in order to make it light and small. The growing availability of affordable laser-cut parts made this project possible.

Build Brighton, [Toby’s] local Hackerspace, has a laser cutter. So he knew that if he could figure out a smaller case design it would be a snap to get his parts made. He cracked open the heavy metal case on the KMX 100 mixer and found it had a ton of extra room inside. He designed all of the plates using a digital calipers to properly space the holes and text labels. These designs were combined with BoxMaker to produce the files the laser cutter needed. The first prototype was cut from cardboard, with the finished product cut from 3mm plywood.

Building new interfaces with an iPad

There’s a word – synchronicity – to describe two disparate events that occur together in a meaningful way. We see this a lot in the Hackaday tip line; two people send in somewhat similar hacks solving similar problems in similar ways nearly simultaneously. Here’s two builds by [Bryce] and [spektakx] that hit our inbox within minutes of each other that both implement existing interfaces with iPads.

iPad turntable controller

[spektakx] sent in an iPad powered DJ MIDI controller he built as a prototype to test out the size, orientation and layout for an upcoming build. The turntable controllers are simple USB affairs made to jog and scratch records digitally. Although [spektakx] admits it’s a little unfinished, it’s still just a prototype. Also, he can use a Windows 7 tablet laptop for ‘more suited’ hardware. Check out [spektakx]’ video demo after the break.

an iPad cash register

[Hacktheory] found [Bryce]’s Flickr photolog of a DIY ‘Square’ cash register. The electronics part of this build is practically non-existent; it’s just an iPad with a credit card readers that plugs into the headphone jack. Yes, we just saw these ‘Square’ credit card readers this last week. The fabrication portion of this build is incredible – [Bryce] has a few wonderful pieces of walnut there, and did an exceptional job with the wood work. It’s probably not well suited to high-volume retail, but we couldn’t think of a better cash register for a boutique shop.

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