Toorcamp: Banana Piano

Banana Piano

[Michael] built his own clone of the popular MaKey MaKey Kickstarter project. His implementation uses an ATMega328 and the V-USB stack to connect as a USB Human Interface Device. He was showing it off at Toorcamp wired up to a banana piano, which captured the interest of kids and adults alike.

The digital inputs are pulled to ground with a large (10 Mohm) resistance. The user holds a supply voltage in one hand and completes the circuit by touching a conductive object like a banana, which is connected to a digital input of the ATMega328. Since the internal resistance across your body is typically around 1 Mohm, this pulls the input high and corresponds to a key being pressed on a normal keyboard.

We featured banana pianos before, and it’s a great demo of the interfaces that can be built with this project. This implementation is very simple, and works well if your internal resistance is low enough. [Michael] taught a workshop at Toorcamp to show people how to build their own. He has found that the ‘magic’ of playing music with bananas is a great way to get children interested in electronics.

Musical light show is far less complex than you might think

color-changing-light-tube

[Matt and Jason Tardy], who make up the musical performance duo known as AudioBody, were recently featured on Make: explaining how they put on one of their trademark segments. The most popular portion of their show features color changing tubes of light which the pair spin and fling around not unlike a higher-tech version of the Blue Man Group. While the visuals are pretty slick, the technique behind it is far simpler than most people initially imagine.

As you can see in video below, the tubes look to be nothing more than simple white lights. As the brothers work through their performance however, the tubes switch from white to blue and back again with a liquid-like transition between the colors.

The [Tardys] say that most people peg a microcontroller or other complex electronics as the source of their light wizardry, but the real answer is much simpler. Embedded in the end of each tube is a bright LED flashlight. A sliding blue filter positioned inside the tube provides the silky smooth transition between colors – no fancy electronics required.

If you would like to see how they were built, be sure to swing by the AudioBody web site for a how-to presentation by the [Tardys] themselves.

[Read more...]

Tunes in the icebox

A couple of years back [Bryan's] iPod went on the fritz. It wasn’t completely broken, as long as he kept it really cold it still worked. So what was he to do with the crippled device? We’ve all heard of elevator music. [Bryan] decided to invent refrigerator music.

First he needed some speakers. A trip to the Goodwill store netted him a pair for under $5. They need A/C power, and the project depends on sensing when the door to the refrigerator is open. He killed two birds with one stone by adding a light socket outlet adapter. This provides a place to plug in the speakers’ power adapter, and it only gets juice when the door is opened. The gimpy iPod just constantly loops through the tracks stored within, but you’ll only hear it when the door is open and the speakers receive power. Of course the iPod will eventually run its own battery down so [Bryan] ran an extension cord out the side of the door to a wall outlet. This interrupts the door seal and we wish there were another way to keep it contained within.

How to Make a Whamola

whamola stringing and playing

If you’ve ever wanted to combine the extreme note-bending capability of a trombone with the obvious awesomeness of a bass guitar, maybe a whamola like this one could be for you!  I’d never heard of one until recently, and haven’t picked up my bass in years, but my much more musically inclined cousin and I decided to build one.

It should be noted that this instrument is quite prone to string breakage if the handle is used too forcefully, so caution should be used both when building and playing.  As with many hacks an old piece of equipment, a bass guitar in this case, was partially sacrificed to make it.

The build itself, outlined here for the main assembly, or this post for mounting the electronics, was quite simple.  It took an afternoon of milling machine and miter saw work to get the 1 3/8 inch square piece of wood cut to size.  Cavities for the electronics and a slot for the handle axis (components for a screen repair tool and a bolt) were cut with the milling machine – a router could also be used.  It turned out to be a ton of fun to play, especially with an amp and distortion pedal.  Check out the video after the break to see us playing it, as well as one of the whamola going together! [Read more...]

Music visualization generator with a Propeller

The folks over at Gadget Gangster have been working on a music visualization system using a Parallax Propeller. The visualizations are awesome in their early-90s demoscene way, and of course we love anything using the oft under-appreciated Propeller.

The project is called Video Beats and it generates music visualizations in the style of a blocky but very complex Atari 2600 game. There’s really not much to the build – just two RCA jacks for the audio input and video output along with a couple of resistors – but we do appreciate how nicely this project would fit in at a chiptunes show.

The Gadget Gangster team says the input isn’t limited to just audio – a potentiometer, accelerometer, or even a light sensor can be added to the build for a more dynamic output. After the break, you can see the demo of Video Beats, and a [Family Sohn] music video that used an early version of this circuit.

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DrummerBot joins the jam session when your bandmates are busy

drummerbot

It seems that more often than not, [Steffest] finds himself inspired to rock out on his guitar without a percussion section to back him up. Like any enterprising hacker/musician would be wont to do, he built a robotic drummer to join in when he got the urge to play.

His DrummerBot is driven using an Arduino, which is tasked with controlling the 8 servo motors that the bot has at its disposal. The bot’s drum set is composed of a variety of items from fan motors to pot lids and more. [Steffest] wanted the ability to produce the maximum variety of sounds possible, so most of the servo motors are driven in two directions allowing the bot to strike more than one item with each “arm”.

[Steffest] is a big fan of interfacing physical objects with a web interface, so he built a simple HTML based sequencer that allows him to program the robot from his phone. Once the sequencer is programmed, the DrummerBot can be launched into action with the simple press of a button.

[Steffest] says that the bot works pretty well, but the sound is a bit raw if you hear it live. A little Ableton Live post-processing goes a long way to smooth things out however, as you can see in the video below.

[Thanks, Wesley]

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Re-live 1978 in all its glory with the [Roth] Scream Box

roth-scream-box

We never imagined that [David Lee Roth] would mesh well with an Arduino, that is until Flickr user [tgtsfkncld] showed off his [Roth] Scream Box a few days ago.

The unassuming box resembles sort of a nondescript “Easy Button”, but its payload is far more entertaining than whatever Staples could have possibly recorded for their device. Once the Scream Box is powered on, each press of the button rewards the user with a short sound clip of [Roth] singing the lyrics from [Van Halen’s] “Runnin’ With the Devil”.

[tgtsfkncld] took snippets of the isolated vocal track from the song, playing them back using an Arduino along with an Adafruit Wave Shield. The circuitry behind the device is not overly complicated, though the final result is great. With the wide array of isolated vocals floating around online, it would be very easy to create one for your favorite band/singer as well.

Continue reading to see the [Roth] Scream Box in action.

[via Adafruit Blog]

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