Rock Out With Your Ribbon Controller Bass

Ribbon-Bass

[Brendan Byrne] stripped this instrument down to basics and built himself a ribbon controller bass guitar. Details are still a bit sparse  on his website, but there are plenty of detailed pictures on his flickr stream. [Brendan] built his bass as part the Future of Guitar Design Course at Parsons the New School for Design. His goal was to create an experience in which playing the instrument and altering parameters of effects are triggered by the same gestures. He’s definitely succeeded in that effort.

Basically, the bass is a four channel ribbon controller. The frets were removed to make way for four graphite strips. [Brendan] followed [Iain's] excellent tutorial to create his own graphite strips using soft artist’s pencils. The ribbons essentially become potentiometers, which are then read by a teensy. [Brendan] expanded the instrument’s sonic palette by adding several buttons and potentiometers mapped to MIDI control codes. He even included a triple axis accelerometer so every movement of the bass can be mapped. The MIDI data is sent to a PC running commercial music software. Analog sound comes from a piezo pickup placed under the bridge of the bass.

The results are pretty awesome. While we can’t say [Brendan's] demo was music to our ears, we definitely see the musical possibilities of this kind of instrument.

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The Tannin DIY MIDI Controller

tannin-ctlr

[Shantea] needed a DJ controller. While there are commercial controllers out there, none of them fit what he was looking for. He solved the problem by building the Tannin DIY MIDI controller. Tannin features 19 buttons, 16 potentiometers, and 4 LEDs. Buttons can send different MIDI messages for short presses and long presses. Pots can send 6 note on/off messages as well as MIDI control messages depending on their position. The LEDs blink in beat with the MIDI in clock. Everything is programmable and can be mapped thousands of different ways. The heart of the system is an Arduino Nano. [Shantea] used the hairless-midi library to convert MIDI to serial. The Arduino interfaces to a PC via serial over USB. On the host PC side, he ran loopbe30 to create a virtual MIDI cable to Traktor, his DJ software.

We love a build that looks just as good on the inside as on the outside, and Tannin doesn’t fail to impress in this respect. The frame is MDF, and the control panel is laser etched plastic on 3mm of Plexiglass. We really like Tannin’s flavone flair. Inside the case, wiring is kept organized and neat by zip ties and strips of wood below the button grid. [Shantea] had some noise issues connecting pots to flying wires, so he used a custom printed circuit board with a ground plane to gang the pots into 2 banks of 8. The results are something any controllerist would be proud of. Click past the break to see Tannin in action.

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Musician On A Budget MIDI Bass Pedals

bass_pedal1

Organ pedal boards have been around forever — they’re an easy way to multitask while playing the piano, organ, or even the guitar. [Ville] plays the electric guitar and wanted to give bass pedals a shot — the only problem is, the commercial versions are pretty pricey. So he decided to make his own temporary solution using an old MIDI keyboard he had lying around.

The beauty of this hack is it’s completely non-destructive — although you might find you like it so much you won’t want to take it apart! [Ville] started by marking out spacer keys using green cardboard. He then grouped together other sets of keys using tape and polystyrene sheets, which he recycled from a plastic waste bin. He then marked off each set of keys with the range of notes to program into the MIDI receiver — on a 49 key keyboard you get just a bit more than an octave of bass pedal keys! It’ll certainly do until you get your hands on a proper organ pedal unit.

From there it was just a matter of re-mapping the keys on the software end of things, and disabling the other unused keys. He offers a few different methods of doing this, including using VST plugins, and Pure Data — to which he’s provided a patch he made to simplify the process.

To see it in action, stick around after the break and hear [Ville] play One Hour Backwards on electric guitar.

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The Most Beautiful Floppy Disk Jukebox Ever

Rail

Playing music on floppy drives is something that has been done to death. [kiu]‘s RumbleRail is something else entirely. Yes, it’s still a collection of floppy drives playing MIDI files, but the engineering and build quality that went into this build puts it in a class by itself.

Instead of the usual assemblage of wires, power cords, and circuits that accompany most musical floppy drive builds, [kiu]‘s is an exercise in precision and modularity. Each of the eight floppy drives are connected to its own driver with an ATMega16 microcontroller on board. The microcontrollers in these driver boards receive orders from the command board over an I2C bus. Since everything on the RumbleRail is modular, and the fact [kiu] is using DIP switches to set the I2C address of each board, this build could theoretically be expanded to 127 voices, or 127 individual floppy drives each playing their part of a MIDI file.

The RumbleRail can also operate in a standalone mode without the need for a separate computer feeding it data. MIDI files can be loaded off an SD card by the main controller board, and decode them for the floppy drivers.

If you’d like to build your own RumbleRail, all the board files, schematics, and firmware are up on [kiu]‘s git. There are, of course, a few videos below of the floppy jukebox in action.

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Fubarino Contest: Minecraft, Zelda, Arduinos, And Hackaday

song

In a clever bit of pandering to the gamer crowd for the Fubarino Contest, [Laurens] has combined The Legend of Zelda, Minecraft, and an Arduino to create something really, really cool.

[Laurens] cobbled together an Arduino, MIDI connector, and LCD display that will read a MIDI keyboard and detect when one of the songs from Ocarina of Time/Majora’s Mask is played. The Arduino then plays back the song slower and longer, just like in the game.

Here’s where things get cool: Since [Laurens] has an Arduino that knows when an OoT/MM song is played, he can have the Sun Song control the lights, or the Song of Storms turn his sprinkler system on. He chose to pipe all these commands into Minecraft, where the Song of Healing gives some health to the Minecraft character, the Song of Storms controls the rain, and other awesome mashups of Zelda and Minecraft.

This project offers more than enough to stand on its own, but [Laurens] also added a Hackaday easter egg. When playing the letters HAD in ASCII on the keyboard, our favorite URL shows up on the Arduino and inside Minecraft.

Here’s an image gallery and the source code (dropbox, so don’t spam it) for [Laurens]‘ awesome project.


This is an entry in the Fubarino Contest for a chance at one of the 20 Fubarino SD boards which Microchip has put up as prizes!

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The Nickelphone

nickelphone

[Tyler Bletsch] sent us a tip about his new build: a keyboard that redefines “coin-operated.” The Nickelphone can emit square wave tones via a piezo buzzer, but [Tyler] made this 25-key piano as a MIDI keyboard capable of driving a full synthesizer.

He chose an ATMega644 as the brain because it’s Arduino-friendly but has more data pins—32—than the usual ATMega328 chip, which allows him to provide each key with its own pin. Each coin was soldered to its own wire and connects up to a 1MΩ resistor array. Coin-presses are recognized by the simple capacitive sensing technique outlined here, but [Tyler] needed to take advantage of a workaround to accurately detect multiple presses.

Check out [Tyler's] detailed project guide for more information as well as the source code. Check out the video of the Nickelphone after the break, then browse through some other capacitive touch hacks, like the Capacitive Touch Business Card or the Capacitive Touch Game Controller.

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Laptop Trackpads and MIDI Controllers

pads

A bunch of pads connected to a MIDI out port is as old an idea as the Akai MPC. creating a homebrew version is great, but [Scott] took his version one step further. He used old laptop trackpads to control note on and note off commands when the each pad is tapped, and also added MIDI CC values for the touch pressure and the x and y-axis position.

The trackpads were identical models, each having their own PS/2 output. A few ribbon cable to 8-pin header adapters were manufactured, and the entire ensemble encased in a wonderful maple and aluminum enclosure.

The electronics are based on an Arduino Mega with 16 clock and data points for each touchpad eating up 32 of the 54 available pins on the ‘duino. The PS/2 protocol is well documented, but running 16 separate PS/2 id most certainly not. [Scott] ended up writing his own asynchronous PS/2 communications library to get the latency of his midi device down to about 50ms.

It’s an amazing bit of kit and comparatively inexpensive, given that [Scott] now has a 16-channel Kaoss pad. Video of the device hooked up to a MicroKorg below.

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