Theremin takes the touch out of multitouch

Multitouch builds are all the rage now, so it’s not surprising someone would come up with a multi-touchless interface sooner or later. [Hanspeter] did just that; his Multi-touchless ribbon controller, a.k.a. Polymagnetophonic Theremin is multi-touch without the touch.

[Hanspeter]‘s touchless ribbon controller uses an array of 24 Hall effect sensors that activate whenever a magnet mounted on a thimble is placed near a build. These sensors go to an ARM-equipped Maple Mini to record multitouch events and send them out over Ethernet.

Even though [Hanspeter] is only using his “multi-touchless ribbon sensor” as a theremin, there’s no reason why it couldn’t be put to other uses. It’s entirely possible to place several of these magnetic sensors in an array and build a real Minority Report interface where the user interacts with a computer without touching anything.

After the break is a video demo showing off how much control [Hanspeter] can get with the thimble/magnet setup. There’s also a few demo songs made with SuperCollider showing off a trio of sitar/Moog/harpsichord synths.

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Python on a microcontroller

The team at LeafLabs was looking for something cool to do with their new ARM development board. [AJ] asked if anyone had ever played around with Python, so [Dave] cooked up an implementation of PyMite and put it on a Maple board. While the writeup is only about blinking a LED with a microcontroller, they’re doing it with Python, interactively, and at runtime.

The build uses the Maple Native board the team is developing. The board has a 32-bit ARM chip with 1 Meg of RAM – more than enough horsepower to run PyMite. The tutorial for putting PyMite on a Maple is up on the LeafLabs wiki.

PyMite is theoretically able to control every pin on the Maple Native and do just about everything a regular Python distro can do. The LeafLabs team is still working on the necessary libraries for their board (although we don’t see anything on the Google code page), so right now only blinking the LED is supported. Still, it’s pretty cool to have Python in your pocket.

VGA out on a Maple board

The team at Leaf Labs just released a new library to demonstrate the VGA capabilities of their Maple dev board. Although it’s only a 16 by 18 pixel image, it shows a lot of development over past video implementations on the Maple.

The Maple is a great little Ardunio-compatible board with a strangely familiar IDE. We’ve covered the Maple before. Instead of the somewhat limited AVR, the Maple uses an ARM running at 72MHz, making applications requiring some horsepower or strict timing a lot easier.

We’ve seen a few projects use the increased power, like a guitar effects shield. It’s possible the Maple could be made into a game console that would blow the Uzebox out of the water, but we’re wondering what hackaday readers would use this dev board for.

Watch the video after the jump to see how far the Maple’s VGA capability has come after only a few months, or check out Leaf Lab’s Maple libraries.

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What Development Board to Use? (Part Two)

We asked for responses to our last Development Board post, and you all followed through. We got comments, forum posts, and emails filled with your opinions. Like last time, there is no way we could cover every board, so here are a few more that seemed to be popular crowd choices. Feel free to keep sending us your favorite boards, we may end up featuring them at a later date!

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Guitar effect shield for Maple

[Okie] designed this audio effect shield for Maple. You’ll remember that Maple is a prototyping system built around an ARM processor, so there’s plenty of power and speed under the hood. First and foremost, the shield provides input and output filters to keep noise out of the system. From there a set of potentiometers let you change the effect, with the manipulation like echo, distortion, and ring modulation happening in the firmware.

Maple R3 now shipping

Leaf Labs is now shipping the Maple R3 boards. [Phil Burgess] gave the platform a look just before launch last fall and the high-powered prototyping board is now even better. New features come in both hardware and software varieties. The bootloader can now be upgraded without additional programming hardware, there’s hardware SPI and I2C interfaces, and a newly-polished IDE for Linux and Windows. At $50 it’s a good way to get access to the power of the ARM Cortex M3 processor at the center of the board. We’ve seen several projects that use the mbed, which is in the same class as the Maple, but we’re waiting to see what you’ve accomplished with this little devil.

AVR8 virtual processor on FPGA

[Jack] wrote in to let us know about a project that creates a virtual microprocessor core based on the ATmega103 by using a Field-Programmable Gate Array. Great, we thought. Here’s another rather esoteric project like the NES on a FPGA, but what’s the motivation behind it? We asked [Jack] and he provided several scenarios where this is quite useful.

Implementing the AVR core allows code already written for the chips to be easily ported to an FPGA without a code rewrite. This way, if your needs outpaced the capabilities of the microcontroller long after the project has started, you can keep the code and move forward from that point with the added capabilities of the gate array. Having the core already implemented, you then only need to work with HDL for the parts of the project the AVR was unable to handle. He also makes the point that having an open source AVR core implementation provides a great tool for people already familiar with AVR to study when learning VHDL.

With products like the Butterfly that this project is based around, or the Maple we’ve seen in the past, programmable logic for the recreational hacker is starting to get a little easier.

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