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.

Bitbuf delivers some of the best chiptune effects around

Wow. And furthermore, WOW! Just looking at that clean prototype you know that a lot of work has gone into the project, but when you hear this chiptune MIDI device you’ll really be impressed. We know what you’re thinking, but really, you’ve got to hear this to appreciate the quality [Linus Akesson] achieved in this synthesizer. You can catch it after the break.

He does a great job of showing off the different waveforms that can be produced by the ATmega88 on this board. But there’s much more. It also serves as a 16 frame, 16 channel sequencer for creating and layering your own loops.

He mentions that eight oscillators are used for the waveform generation. We don’t see hardware for this on the board. Either we’re missing it, or these oscillators are being created with software? If you have an idea of how this works please clue us in by leaving a comment.

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CV Sequencer with a TV out

[gijs] sent in the control voltage sequencer he’s been working on that uses the TVout Arduino library to provide a graphical interface.

The sequencer doesn’t produce any sound on its own. Instead, it outputs a Control Voltage so other synths can be sequenced with [gijs]’ TVSCV. Before MIDI came around, CV was the standard to connect synthesizers and drum machines together. Even today, a lot of boutique synths have at least one jack for CV. [gijs]’ build is really interesting because of the user interface – the TVout Arduino library was used in conjunction with a tiny CRT to change values, timing and speed of the CV output. The TVSCV is able to sequence two different channels of CV at 10 bit resolution with 16 steps per bank.

From the video after the break, the TVSCV sounds like it can produce what would be the trippiest soundtrack ever conceived for an Atari or NES game. It’s a great bit of kit, especially when connected to an Atari punk console or a TR-808 and a glitch delay.

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Burning Man: Pirate Ship Sports Arduino Powered Flame Sails

The 2011 Burning Man festival starts in just a few short days, and with that we have an excellent mutant vehicle accessory that no insane desert dweller should be without. An Arduino powered fire cannon sequencer! [Paul] was asked by Lostmachine’s [Andy] to spice up the flame effects on their Priate Ship mutant vehicle and provide a cool looking fire show that represented the ship’s sails.

[Paul] tossed together a hand full of arcade buttons, switches, and an LCD display to control eight 12V Solenoid valves tasked with switching on various regulated propane sources that throw some brutal looking flame effects. The controller combines a Teensy 2.0 with a custom board that contains eight P-channel MOSFET circuits. Flyback from the coils is handled through zener diodes, and the IRFR5305s are sized quite above and beyond what is needed for the 12v solenoids. With the heat, dust, and chaos of the desert one can’t be too careful. [Paul] even tosses in RC snubber circuits just to prevent things from getting too out of hand. Of the twelve arcade buttons eight are used for manual over rides, and the remaining four arcade buttons, knobs, switches, and the LCD display are all connected to the Teensy to handle the sequencing. [Paul], sadly, will not be able to make it out to Burning Man to troubleshoot the sequencer, which is a cause for some concern throughout the build.

It just so happens that I leave for Burning Man this Friday, and have an 18″ by 18″ Hackaday QR Code that will mark my area, see if you can find me out there! Also check out a video of the sequencer controlling what is easily a 6 foot flame bar after the jump!

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Beat707 LE: A Button Pad-based Standalone MIDI sequencer


[Guilherme] picked up a SparkFun Button Pad and was taking a closer look at the device when he noticed that it was based off the ATMega328 microcontroller. Since he loves working with MIDI, he thought that the Button Pad would make a slick yet compact standalone MIDI controller.

Since his ultimate goal was to create a completely standalone controller aside from the power plug and MIDI interface, it forced him to work quite closely with the ATMega chip. He and his partners spent a good deal of time working through some serial communications issues so as not to block the LEDs or MIDI block timer during operation. Ensuring that the Arduino doesn’t block any other functions is obviously important when you are building a MIDI timer, and it seems [Guilherme] was successful in his quest.

The MIDI controller works quite nicely as you can see in the videos below, great job!

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Kequencer 2.0 is cheaper and easier to build — still awesome

[Rich Decibels] decibels received so much interest in his original sequencer build that he decided to make another one that was a bit easier and less expensive to replicate. The original design, called the Kequencer, featured a nicely finished look for the user interface. For the Keyquencer 2.0 he decided that adding a lid to the enclosure meant not spending quite as much for controls (nice looking knobs tend to increase the cost of potentiometers).

A rectangle of protoboard serves as the panel face for the device. It looks like he painted it black on top so that it doesn’t distract from the neatly organized parts layout. He used point-to-point wiring to make most of the hookups, but he did create a board layout which will help to guide you when the number of wires starts to get out of hand. This was made after the fact and he regrets not having it for the initial build. Check out the demonstration video embedded after the break to hear how the second iteration sounds.

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Sequencer built on a Cycle II FPGA board

[Matt’s] finishing up his computer science degree. As part of a class assignment he programmed his own sequencer which runs on a Cyclone-II FPGA development board. We’ve embedded a video below the fold that shows you what it can do. The buttons and LEDs offered on the board actually allowed him to create a nice user interface. Each slide switch has a surface mount LED above it, giving feedback for which beats in the loop are on and off. There’s also a bank of momentary-push buttons seen in blue above. [Matt] uses these to tweak settings like the pitch that is stored for each slide switch. He even puts on a light show with the VGA output.

We’ve seen this Altera board before, used to drive a falling sands game. The hardware will run you around $200 but that’s not bad considering all of the fun things you can do with it.

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