Musical Pencil Synthesizer

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Here’s another fun weekend project for the hacker younglings, a musical synthesizer that plays different musical tones based on the resistance of your conductive graphite drawing!

Like our recent post on a DIY Metal Detector, this project makes use of the ever relevant 555 timer. Except in this case they are using a more modern TLC555 timer which only requires 3V instead of the typical 4.5V. It’s a fairly simple project that you should be able to complete in just a few hours.

The circuit is quite basic. The 555 timer outputs in astable mode, which means there is a continuous stream of pulses from pin 3 which go right into the speaker circuit. The rest of the circuit monitors the resistance of whatever the pencil is touching, including you! Changes in resistance result in the variation of pulses outputted by the 555 timer.

As always, the video guide is after the break.

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[Dino] builds a Fetch-O-Matic for this month’s Make

Perennial Hackaday favorite [Dino] has an article in this months Make magazine. It’s an automated ball launcher that allows you to play fetch with your dog without wearing your arm out.

The powerhouse inside [Dino]‘s ball launcher is a windshield wiper motor powered by an 18 Volt cordless drill battery pack. When a ball in dropped into the hopper, it turns on a switch sending some power to the motor.

The swing arm that actually launches the ball is anchored to the frame of the ball launcher with a spring. This stores energy for one half of a rotation of the motor until the arm rotates half way around inside the box. Then, the arm quickly accelerates and launches the ball across the yard.

[Dino] says he’s working on training his dog to drop the ball into the chute after retrieving it, creating a perpetual game of fetch. At least until the battery runs down, that is. Video after the break.

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Make: television

Make Magazine, famous for the Maker Faire, among other things, has announced a new project called Make: television. The show will be coming to public television stations throughout the USA starting early 2009. The big news is that you can submit 2 minute long videos of your projects to be included in the show’s Maker Channel segment. The bigger news is that if your video is selected, they’ll send you a $50 gift certificate from the Maker Shed and a free year of Make Magazine.