Human Theremin, one step closer to cyborgs (not really)

Oh [Humberto], what will you think up next? A human Theremin you say, and it’s for Halloween? Certanly this will blow last years creepy capacitance sensing jack-o-lantern out of the water right? Eh, not really, but still cool none-the-less. By using pairs of IR LEDs and IR photo-transistors, [Humberto] makes a simplistic distance sensor. Then its just a matter of converting that light value into sound, which is accomplished by using some very clever PWM square wave hacking to make a triangle wave. Also, [Humberto] goes over the process of using fast integers to represent slow floating point numbers. While none of the project is really a new concept, it certainly is put into an easy perspective so anyone can try their hand at it. All well worth the read, or you can catch a video after the jump.

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Single string servo electric guitar

its a catchy tune!

Ah, we love musical hacks that actually play music.  [Mike Baxter] is back again with a new servo electric guitar. This one, called the physical string synthesizer, and has only one string.  He’s using two Arduinos to control the unit. One to change the midi file to a note within the string’s limits and the second to actually control the servo. It seems like that could be simplified a little bit, but we’re pretty sure his end goal was to build an instrument quickly, not learn to be a circuit ninja. Last time we saw Mike Baxter, he had built a servo electric guitar that used a keypad for control. You can see a video of the single string one after the break.

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Shovel…guitar?

We didn’t believe this hack at all when we saw it, or rather heard it. Surly a guitar made out of a shovel couldn’t sound decent. But the video (after the jump, skip to 2:40 for the jam) to our untrained ears sounded pretty rad. Could be the supremely well done wood work, proper use of tools, high tech pickups, or maybe Russian magic, we don’t know.

In fact, if you continue the video it doesn’t stop there. The creators also made a 2 string bass and a few other instruments from shovels. Do I smell a new shovel hero?

Related: Guitars made out of things that should not be guitars.

[Thanks Paul]

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Spark plug music

This is (video above) perhaps the most abstract way of playing sounds…ever. Yes, we’ve heard Hard Drive music and Obsolete technology bands, but [DJ Sures] brings us the first ever, spark plug instrument.

Much like Velcro and Teflon, the musical spark plug is claimed to be an accident. After testing energy use vs. spark power with his flare stack ignition controller, [DJ Sures] noticed that different frequencies could be produced. It was only a matter of reprogramming before death metal Twinkle Twinkle Little Star is heard. Now he just needs to refine it a bit and build a full stereo cabinet.

Circuit board instrument

[Moldover] decided to change up the way CDs are packaged for his album release. Yes, you still get a CD with some pretty sweet music, but the case can also play sounds. He custom printed a circuit board containing some LEDs, buttons, photoresistors, and what looks to be a piezo transducer which all combine to produce a strange whine like noise. But with the included headphone jack, he shows it can be used to produce some very interesting music – reminds us of circuit bending.

[Thanks Ferdinand]

Irregular Incurve robotic instrument

irregular_incurve

The Irregular Incurve is a robotic instrument built by [Xiaoyang Feng] as part of his ITP thesis work. It’s a MIDI instrument with an array of 12 strung bows mounted to a curved shower rod. The end of each bow has a tuning key. The strings are each picked using independently mounted arms. One servo controls the downward motion of the pick while the other controls the rotation of the shaft. A damper is also attached to each arm. The string vibrations are transferred to a spruce soundbox under the bridge. Below you can see a video of Gizmodo playing with it at the ITP show. Check out [Xiaoyang]’s Flickr set for images of the build process plus some early videos of the mechanism.

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