Bananaphone lets you use fruit and other things as switches

We’re used to [Sprite_TM] rolling out his own hacks hot on the heels of new concepts. Now we’re glad to see that [Jeff Ledger] is doing the same thing here. He was inspired by a Kickstarter project which vows to let you use fruit, clay, and a number of other common (but weird for this use) substances to interface with electronic projects. The mess you see above is the Bananaphone, a synthesizer played with touch sensitive bananas. Think of them as keys on a piano.

The interface works by measuring R/C decay. Each banana is connected to its own input pin on the Propeller board. The capacitance of the bananas rise when you touch them, and this results in a longer R/C decay measurement. Calibrate the target decay period, and you’ve got a reliable capacitive touch sensor which also happens to be delicious. Check out the results which [Jeff] achieves in the video after the break.

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Interactive digital fireplace is great for those chilly winter evenings

video-fireplace

We’ve all seen them – those fireplace DVDs that seem to pop up on grocery store endcaps and get traded in white elephant gift exchanges. If you don’t happen to have a fireplace in your home they might make a reasonable solution, but [Nick] from the Gadget Gangster thought it would be far better if you could create your own interactive digital fireplace instead.

Using the Gadget Gangster Propeller USB platform and ProtoPlus board, his fireplace merges various video segments together based on user input, and plays them on any TV that comes equipped with RCA jacks. The process is fairly straightforward, and involves wiring up switches along with audio and video output to the Propeller board via the ProtoPlus board. The remainder of the work is done using software, requiring the user to select and encode video segments for storage on an SD card. [Nick] does however provide a whole set of clips for download, should you want to take the quicker route.

After encoding and categorizing the video clips to coincide with the “stoke” and “add wood” user input buttons, the Propeller does the rest of the work, randomly selecting clips from the appropriate category when requested.

The result is admittedly a bit Lo-Fi, though we thinks it’s cool and prefer to call it “retro” instead. It might not be a Hi-Def fireplace recording, but it’s far nicer to snuggle up to a hand made fireplace rather than a DVD you picked up as an afterthought.

Continue reading to see a quick demo video of the digital fireplace in action.

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