Turning Lego Into A Groove Machine

lego

Last weekend wasn’t just about Maker Faire; in Stockholm there was another DIY festival celebrating the protocols that make electronic music possible. It’s MIDI Hack 2014, and [Kristian], [Michael], [Bram], and [Tobias] put together something really cool: a Lego sequencer

The system is set up on a translucent Lego base plate, suspended above a webcam that feeds into some OpenCV and Python goodness. From there, data is sent to Native Instruments Maschine. There’s a step sequencer using normal Lego bricks, a fader controlling beat delay, and a rotary encoder for reverb.

Despite being limited to studs and pegs, the short demo in the video below actually sounds good, with a lot of precision found in the faders and block-based rotary encoder. [Kristian] will be putting up the code and a few more details shortly. Hopefully there will be enough information to use different colored blocks in the step sequencer part of the build for different notes.

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Breadboard Sequencer Does a Lot with Very Little Hardware

breadboard-sequencer

[Jan Cumpelik] squeezes a lot of performance out of very few components with his breadboard sequencer which he calls Lunchbeat. We really like his awesome breadboard which has a series of trenches perpendicular to the bus strips framing the long sides. All of our breadboards have just one trench down the middle. This, combined with his mad breadboard skills, results in a really clean prototype.

The chip nearest his hand is the ATmega328 which drives the sequencer. It takes inputs from that row of 10k trimpots as well as a series of tactile switches. Feedback is given with the row of eight LEDs. Those are driven from a 595 shift register to save pins on the microcontroller. The remaining chip is an OpAmp which works in conjunction with a 3-bit R2R ladder DAC to output audio. Turn your speakers down just a bit before taking in the demonstration below. There you will also find an image version of his schematic that we made for your convenience. It is only available as a PDF in the code repository he posted.

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Arduino-controlled MIDI sequencer

am808vx3-arduino-synth

[Christian] wrote in to tell us about his third-generation Arduino MIDI sequencer (translated) called the AM808 VX3. He had already laid a strong base for the project in his previous versions. But the user interface was still frustrating at times and that’s where this version comes in. it features a nice clean dashboard like interface, but also includes a configurable virtual interface.

The obvious components seen above include the slider and potentiometer band, as well as the repository of buttons mounted below that. But in the center of the board is a touchpad which [Christian] pulled out of an old Laptop. It interfaces as a PS2 device which makes it pretty simple to use in conjunction with the Arduino. But that’s not the only touch-enabled input device. The rectangle to the right of the touch pad is an LCD screen with a touch overlay. As you can see (and hear) in the clip after the break, the touch screen made it possible for him to rework the controls until they became simple and intuitive.

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Turning a MIDI sequencer display into a Tetris clone

led-midi-display-tetris

Tetris is unquestionably a game for the ages. Despite its simplicity, someone, somewhere will always find a way to port the game (Translation) to just about any electronic device that can handle it.

Earlier this year we showed you a slick MIDI sequencer project that was constructed using an Arduino Mega, which also happened to drive an incredibly detailed touch screen display. [Christian] must have gotten bored with his awesome creation one day, because he pulled the drum level display out of his Arduino Sequencer 808, and turned the LED array into a mini Tetris game.

As you can see in the video below, the game runs pretty well, though from what we can see it lacks any sort of score keeping. We dig it because we never really tire of Tetris clones, and we think it’s great that he kept his 808 sequencer design modular enough that he can pluck different components out for reuse in other projects.

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Arduino MIDI sequencer displays a lot of data

This Arduino MIDI sequencer has no shortage of ways to display loop info. The screen above is a touch-sensitive interface that acts as the user input. But if this screen is not visible, you can still see which tracks have activated samples for each beat and what effects are being used. That’s thanks to the collection of display boards which are shown in the video after the break.

The setup acts as the MIDI front end, relying on other hardware to generate the samples. It presents all of the options through several pages on the 320×240 touch screen display. The Ardunio Mega is responsible for monitoring the UI data, crafting and sending the MIDI commands, as well as updating the LED-based display boards. These include bar graphs for the various effects, a four row by sixteen pixel beat pattern display, and 7-segment displays to track the current location within the loop. All in that’s 368 LEDs driven by 18 shift registers.

Update: Link to a gallery can be found after the break as well.

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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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Hackaday Links: Leap Day, 2012

The Earth orbits the Sun every 365.256 days. Because this number isn’t a whole number, an extra day is tacked onto February every four years, unless the year is evenly divisible by 100, except in cases where the year is divisible by 400, or something like that. To commemorate this calendar hack, here’s some stuff that has rolled in over the last week or so.

Marble sequencer

[Brian] sent in this marble-based sequencer that sounds like someone is running MIDI into an Atari 2600. There are photoresistors in there somewhere, and it really reminds us of those thingamagoop robots.

YouTube CLI

[Mike] uses YouTube as his music library. While this is a perfectly acceptable way to listen to music, the user interface is terrible. To solve this problem, [Mike] is downloading videos from the command line, automagically converting them to MP3, and playing them over speakers. It works well with SSH, so we’ll call this a win.

Key card lock

[valenitn] just joined the MIT Media Lab, but something was terribly wrong with his keys – an ID card was required to get into the building, but a key was necessary to get into his office. He doesn’t need the key anymore, at least since he modded his office door. Check out the video.

Pop Tart Cat is everywhere

[skywodd] saw our writeup on the Maximite Basic computer and figured he could send in a project he’s been working on. He programmed his Maximite to sing the nyan cat song and then created a BASIC music player. Nice job, [skywodd].

Not sure if brilliant or insane

[Vikash] ran across a forum post where a user named [I Shooter] describes his setup to dual-boot Windows and Linux: [I Shooter] connected data cables to a pair of SATA hard drives, one loaded up with Windows, the other with Linux. The power cables are switched using relays so only one drive is powered at a time. [I Shooter] gets a ton of points for creativity, but there’s a reason this brute force hardware dual-boot setup isn’t more common. We wish there were pictures of this one.