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.

[Read more...]

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]

[Read more...]

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]

[Read more...]

A simple touch interface for Music Player Daemon and more

mpd-controller

[Andrew] recently got the authorization to install Linux on his work PC, and he was looking for a way to control his music without relying on keyboard shortcuts to do so. Additionally, he wanted an unmistakable visual cue when he received messages in Pidgin, so he decided to build an external input/notification box.

The control box, quite literally, is a cardboard box in which [Andrew] crammed some components he got way back when from the crew at Seeed Studio. A Seeeduino serves as the brains of his control panel, interfacing with his PC over USB. He uses a set of 4 touch sensors and a potentiometer to control the MPD, allowing him to easily switch tracks, pause his music, control the volume, and lock his computer with a simple touch. A side-mounted RGB LED lights green to show that the system has received his commands successfully, pulsing a bright blue whenever a message arrives via Pidgin.

While the case isn’t exactly pretty, it is small, recycled, and takes up very little desk space. [Andrew] says that it works great, and he has made his code available on github if anyone is interested in using it.

Your theme song greets you at the front door

One thing you can look forward to when arriving at home after a long, arduous day at the office is some peppy theme music when you walk in the door. [Sebastian Sommer] built the system, and shows it off in the video after the break by dancing to James Brown’s I feel good.

The setup uses an Arduino as a microcontroller. It monitors a hall effect sensor on the jamb which detects a passing magnet on the door. We guess this means the system doesn’t know if you’re coming or going but perhaps a future upgrade would add an infrared beam to detect your legs as head out the door. The music itself is played by an SparkFun MP3 shield which has a decoder chip, microSD slot, and audio jack for the powered speakers. [Sebastian] grabbed a copy of [Bill Porter's] mp3 shield library to get the project up and running quickly.

This is a pretty cool addition if you’re already using an Arduino for a door lock or vice versa. Or maybe you’re not home enough to make this hack worth it, in which case you simply must take this music playing Tesla coil hat along on your commute.

[Read more...]

Antique phone provides a soundtrack perfect for restoring old cars

crank-phone-music

[Simon] is in the middle of restoring/building himself an Austin 7 Special out in his garage, and like most tinkerers, found that music helps to move the process along. He happened to have an old Bakelite generator phone out in the garage as well, and figured that he might as well have it do something other than simply hang on the wall.

Playing music from the 1930 seemed like a fitting enough task, so he picked up an Adafruit Waveshield and spent some time wiring it up to the old telephone. His new radio works simply enough, piping .wav files through the handset, provided someone has cranked the phone’s generator recently.

While cranking the generator is required to play music, the Arduino is actually powered off a pair of AA batteries. The cranking is all cosmetic, but he did program the Arduino to slow the music down every once in awhile, requiring that the generator be turned to get things back up to speed.

It really is a neat way to repurpose the old phone, and we like the fact that [Simon] did not gut it to put this project together.

Continue reading to see a short video of his new music player in action.

[Read more...]

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