Using videotape tape as a controller

Behold the Bodystick, an instrument built and demonstrated by [Erich Lesovsky]. It’s a bit like a string bass but instead of strings there is a strip of VHS tape. Apparently not all VHS tape will work, but if you have the right kind you can run voltage through it and then change the resistance with a touch of your finger. It seems that the hand not touching the tape needs to be touching a conductive pad, completing the circuit. The resulting resistance changes the oscillator values on a CD40106 CMOS chip. This project is a bit out there (just like [Erich’s] Mega-Tape-O-Phone), and in keeping with its peculiarity is the demo video after the break. Enjoy!

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Adding an input to an old head unit

Tape decks in cars? Yes, that used to be quite common before optical media took over road. [Nirav Patel’s] 2004 Toyota Corolla had a deck that he used with a tape adapter in order to listen to music from his iPhone. But one day something happened and, although the adapter still worked, the cassette player started making distracting noises. [Nirav] set out to quiet the noise and install an auxiliary audio input for the sound system. There were some tripping points along the way, like breaking everything and starting a small fire, but perseverance got him to his goal. Because these units are built with compatibility for things like CD changers they have a communications bus called AVC-Lan. This protocol has been sniffed out and documented, and [Nirav] even found an existing audio-input hack that he based his design around. Now he’s able to plug directly into the dash and ditch the cassette adapter.

We’ve seen [Nirav’s] work a few times before. He’s shown us a first person shooter controller and his site was a resource in our Launchpad programming with Linux post.

[via Make]

Programmable drum machine

This sequencer, called Drumssette, uses audio tape to churn out some beats. [Mike Walters] built this around a Tascam four track cassette recorder. The tape inside has a different drum sound on each of the tracks, with a corresponding row of red buttons. Pushing a button adds the drum sound to the loop on that beat. He’s using a series of digital logic gates to patch through the sounds as well as clocking the device from one of the tape’s tracks. It’s pretty  neat  to see the focus selector used in the video after the break to sync up the beginning of the repeated drum patterns. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen [Mike’s] work. If you missed it last year take some time to review the Melloman.

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Radio-Walkman-megaphone hybrid

[Erich] rethought the use of a megaphone and ended up with this Mega-Tape-O-Phone. His first move was to ditch the megaphone’s amplifying circuitry in order to add his own based on an LM386 chip. From there a radio receiver joined the party followed by the guts of a tape player. He relocated the head of the tape deck to the end of a flexible cable and coated the outside of the megaphone bell with magnetic tape. Now he’s surfing the airwaves and scratching away happily.

The use of the tape head has been seen here before, but it was never in a mobile package like this is. Join us after the break for some video of this in action.

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Two input devices made with common items

Here’s two input devices you can easily build with materials you already have on hand.

To the left, [John] built a 3×3 keypad matrix from paper and tinfoil. The rows and columns are made up of strips of tin foil on the front and back layers of paper. The layers are separated by spongy double-stick tape. A ‘keypress’ results when the gap between the conductors is compressed with your finger.

In much the same way, [Dave Fletcher] built a touch potentiometer. He made two resistance plates by scribbling pencil lead on sheets of paper. When the two plates face each other, separated by the same type of foam tape as before, they can be pressed together to form a circuit with a variable resistance. This results in a crude version of the SparkFun softpot.

Melloman tape-looping keyboard

[Michael] tipped us off about an incredible build from back in 2005. The Melloman is a keyboard that uses a different tape loop for each key. The instrument is generally known as a Mellotron, and consists of a different looping tape for each key. When a key is depressed, the head comes into contact with the key and plays the sound sample.

This particular implementation uses 14 Walkmans to supply the tape loops. The Walkman units are constantly playing but the audio output is not enabled until a key is depressed. The main description of the instrument is on the final project page linked above but there are many construction photos available in the build log.

Update: After the break we’ve embedded a video that will take you on a tour of the components of the Melloman. To clear up the looping issue: a Mellotron uses tape loops, but the Melloman uses tapes that are 30 minutes on each side instead of loops.

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Office warfare

st_miniweapons3_f

a Ruler, rubber band, and a pen make a bow and arrow? How about tape, a ping pong ball, and a lighter coming together to make a ‘Zooka. We didn’t think such destructive weapons could possibly be made from office supplies, but the famous [John Austin] is here to prove us wrong. He’s been miniaturizing toys and their munitions including Transformers, Star Wars, Jurassic Park for years. With the resent release of his new book, he’s left us the grace of a few teasers.

[Thanks Chris]