Custom made MIDI recorder for an 8 year old girl

recorder

[KDM] over at The Controller Project forums let us know about a cool project he’s been working on: a MIDI recorder for an 8-year-old girl born with two digits per hand.

The recorder – a simple woodwind instrument usually made of plastic – is a staple of grade school music classes the world over. It’s an excellent introduction to the performing arts, but for those with two fingers per hand, the fingering is a little difficult.

[KDM] contacted a manufacturer of these instruments and they were kind enough to send over a half-dozen for his experimentations. He drilled out these recorders on a lathe and started work on a simple circuit to turn this recorder into a MIDI instrument. A simple PIC micro and a few buttons were used, with a DIN 5 port on the horn of the instrument.

The build works, but we’re thinking with a small electronic wind sensor, this instrument could easily become a full-fledged MIDI wind controller that could be easily and cheaply reproduced for other budding musicians with special needs.

Oh, one more thing. We’d like to give a big shout out to the giant dork who started The Controller Project. A lot of Hackaday readers know how to work a microcontroller and a soldering iron, so how about heading over to their forums and doing some good with your skills?

Steam fife

This auto-flute does it with steam. Well, electricity gets its piece of the action too as the tone holes are opened and closed using a set of solenoids.

We’re at a loss on how the sound is actually produced. We would think that a penny whistle has been used here, except if that were the case the solenoid nearest the kettle would have no use. Then again, after watching the demo after the break we’re not sure that it does have much of an effect. It may be meant to stop the sound but it doesn’t really work all that well.

At any rate we’d love to see some spin-off hacks. Assuming the plastic can stand up to the steam heat this would be a perfect robot controller for recorder controlled snake. You can get a recorder for a buck at the right dollar store, and solenoids can be made out of simple materials. If you know of a way to produce the sound yourself, all it takes are a few careful calculations to place the tone holes.

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Electronic recorder conversion

As we wrote the title to this feature we can see why [Jeff Ledger] calls it an electronic flute and not a recorder; this is a musical instrument and not something for archiving audio. Confusion aside, we’re all familiar with these plastic ‘musical’ instruments. Many elementary schools in our area require students to buy one as part of music class. So it shouldn’t be hard to find one if you want to try this for yourself (heck, [Jeff] grabbed his a the dollar store).

Basically, he’s replaced the finger holes with momentary press switches, then uses a Propeller dev board to turn the button presses into music. It’s simple and quick, but what does it for us is the breath actuator. Sure, you can set this up to play whenever a button is depressed, but [Jeff] went that extra mile and added a piezoelectric element to the bottom. When you blow through the instrument it flexes slightly, generating a tiny current that can be measured by the microcontroller. Check out the short clip after the break.

Do a little more work and you could turn this into some type of musical game controller. We’re thinking Zelda!

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Cheap audio equipment makes ATM theft easier

ATM information theft is nothing new. Neither is the use of skimmers to gain access to the data. But it’s a little surprising just how easy it has become to hack together the devices using audio equipment. The images above are samples of a skimmer for sale from an Eastern-European do-no-good. It is the magnetic stripe sniffer portion of the attack which captures card data as an audio recording. That is later turned into the binary code that was read from the card. We’re just speculating, but that looks an awful lot like the PCB from a pen recorder, something you can pick up for just a couple of bucks.

Of course this is used in conjunction with a camera to capture PIN data as the second part of the security protocol, but it really underscores the need for new ATM technology. Some skimmers don’t even require retrieval of the hardware, and you never know where the sketchy machines might pop up next.

[via Engadget and Slashdot]

RC controlled camera takes intimate video of rodents

[Leor] wanted to take some video of the wildlife in his yard, like this chipmunk or some hummingbirds, but every time he tried to get close it scared them away. His solution was to rig up a cheap video recorder to be radio controlled (PDF). The donor camera was a cheap SD card based eBay purchase that takes 720×480 video. [Leor] removed the SMD switches from the recorder’s PCB and wired up a 4066 quad bi-lateral switch IC in its place. An RC toy car donated the receiver transmitter pair. The receiver signals are monitored by an AVR microcontroller which translates the commands in a proper set of button presses for the video. What you get is a controller that and turn the camera on and set to the proper mode, and the ability to start and stop the recording.

We’ve got some pics of the hardware after the break, and [Leor] posted a bit of the chipmunk video for your enjoyment.

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Automatic telephone recorder

[James Bond] types and those suffering from a hefty dose of paranoia can now record all telephone conversations. [Trax] built this module that monitors the phone line and starts recording when a handset is picked up. A computer does the actual recording, triggered by the microcontroller via a USB connection.

We like the use of an old PCB for a faceplate, we’ve certainly got some duds of our own sitting around. The three cords are a bit confusing though. One for the phone line, one for the USB, but what does the third do? Is it an audio-out connection?

We’ve asked [Trax] to post a schematic and source code if possible so that might clear up the mystery.

Update: [Trax] let us know that there is a red button with white lettering at the bottom labeled “download”. This contains schematic, code, pcb layout, and PC software. We just missed it the first time around.