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Adding a lot of twinkle to this rebar sculpture

Blinky lights have a way of attracting attention and that’s exactly what the members of the Maui Makers hackerspace were shooting for. The sculpture above is the logo for the Source festival, a Burning Man inspired music gathering in the Aloha state. For this year’s festival they went crazy, installing twelve meters of RGB LED strip controlled by seven Arduino boards.

The goal was to make the twelve-foot tall sculpture into a lighted interactive showpiece. In addition to the LEDs it includes a microphone, capacitance sensors, Bluetooth connectivity, and a piezo speaker. There’s one Arduino to rule them all, with another Teensy controller to drive an LCD display in the control box, and five Teensy boards to address the LED strips. They grabbed [Bill Porter's] Easy Transfer library to facilitate communication between the microcontrollers (his libraries are becoming popular, we just saw his mp3 shield library used in another project on Tuesday).

The code which drives the LED animations is based on some Adafruit examples. We really enjoy the waving flag effect seen in the clip after the break.

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XKCD inspires YouTube feature

Who knew that a silly comic strip could be so influential? XKCD’s strip focusing on the inanity of YouTube comments inspired someone to actually add the Audio Preview feature to YouTube. It’s provided us with much amusement, especially where one commenter mentions that the “preview of my own post sounded moronic!”

Speech synthesis software is nothing new, of course. While it’s not the most sophisticated software, it’s an invaluable resource to those with disabilities, language learners, and others. This tutorial on Festival, a Linux-based text-to-speech software framework, would be a great place to start. You’re just moments away from finding out how stupid email, IM, and IRC sound read aloud.