Quick and easy Arduino-powered theremin

[Martin] sent in a great guide to a simple Arduino based theremin. It’s a very small build – just a single common IC and some passive components – and easy enough to build in an afternoon.

The theremin is based on a simple LC oscillator built around a 7400 quad NAND gate IC, a wire antenna, and a few caps and resistors. When a hand moves closer to the antenna, the frequency of the oscillator increases; when a hand moves away, the frequency decreases. On the software side, the oscillator is connected to the internal hardware counter of the Arduino. Every time there’s a change in the voltage output by the oscillator (all the time, varying slightly with the distance from a hand to the antenna), the counter increases by one. This counter is tallied up over 1/10th of a second, and the distance from the instrumentalist to the theremin can be determined. From there, it’s just outputting a frequency to a speaker.

All the code, schematics, and board layouts are available on [Martin]‘s guide, and most of our readers probably have the parts to build this lying around their workbench. You can check out a video of [Martin]‘s theremin in action on his guide.

Mini IR theremin

[Chris] at PyroElectro sent in a great 8-part write-up of a miniature infrared theremin.

The theremin is based on a PIC microcontroller and an infrared distance sensor.  The build log goes through the theory of operations for the IR sensor and tone generation. [Chris] definitely does a great job showing the math that went into the design.

Although this project isn’t a true theremin because it operates on light like a few other projects we’ve covered in the past, it’s easier to play because of the hard-coded notes. The build does show some promise though – he could likely expand it to use more accurate ultrasonic sensors or use, “two proximity sensors, one for treble and one for bass like an accordion.”

The theremin is usually played with both hands providing a continuous pitch and volume. This project features hard-coded, discrete notes, so we’re wondering about the possibility of implementing MIDI on this IR theremin. The original MIDIbox was based on the same microcontroller as this project, so it’s definitely a possibility.

Check out the video of the theremin in action below.

[Read more...]

Humanoid robot listens to music, plays along on his Theremin

robot_playing_theremin

Researcher and YouTube user [mspetitegeek] along with her lab mate [Tatsuhiko Itohara] have been fortunate enough to spend some time working with the HRP-2 humanoid robot from Kawada Industries. Their research has seemingly been focused on using the robot to create real-time interactions with humans for entertainment purposes, at the very least.

The program they created allows the HRP-2 to listen and watch its human counterpart while he plays the guitar in order to recognize a beat pattern. Once the robot catches on, it plays along on his Theremin, matching both notes and rhythm perfectly. Since the human operator is clearly playing at a fairly relaxed pace, we are curious to see a demonstration where the robot required to match a snappier tune – it could be quite interesting.

In the meantime, we’re content to just sit back and enjoy the Mogwai-esque tones of the HRP-2 rocking the Theremin.

Keep reading to see a short video of the HRP-2 in action.

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Synapse turns your Kinect into a Dubstep theremin

kinect_dubstep_theremin

[Ryan Challinor] is part of a group constructing a display for this year’s Burning Man festival that includes the Kinect, Ableton Live, and Quartz Composer. As the programming guru of the project, he was tasked with creating a method for his partners to utilize all three products via an easy to use interface.

His application is called Synapse and was inspired by videos he saw online of people controlling individual Dubstep beats or sound effects with the Kinect. Synapse allows you to map multiple effects to each limb, sending joint positions, hit events, and image depth data to both Ableton and Quartz Composer via OSC. The user interface looks fairly easy to work with, enabling musicians and artists to create awesome audio/visual displays using their bodies as instruments, in a very short period of time.

Check out the pair of videos below to see a brief walkthrough of the software interface as well as a quick video demonstration of what Synapse is capable of.

[via KinectHacks]

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Theremin midi board is like using autotune

[Steve Hobley] built a Theremin interface board that tracks pitch and volume. Using this setup he’s able to pass data over a midi interface which effectively converts the instrument into a non-contact midi controller. As we joked in the headline, this does allow for the use of autotune, by snapping notes that are sharp or flat to the center of the nearest pitch. But you should watch the video after the break to see [Steve] show off the other features as well. A keyboard can be used to seed a starting pitch, with arpeggios of several different tonalities built on top of it based on the input from the Theremin.

Want the details? Unfortunately you’ll have to pay for the schematics. But the concept is still just as interesting to read about, even if you don’t know what went into the system. [Read more...]

Human Theremin, one step closer to cyborgs (not really)

Oh [Humberto], what will you think up next? A human Theremin you say, and it’s for Halloween? Certanly this will blow last years creepy capacitance sensing jack-o-lantern out of the water right? Eh, not really, but still cool none-the-less. By using pairs of IR LEDs and IR photo-transistors, [Humberto] makes a simplistic distance sensor. Then its just a matter of converting that light value into sound, which is accomplished by using some very clever PWM square wave hacking to make a triangle wave. Also, [Humberto] goes over the process of using fast integers to represent slow floating point numbers. While none of the project is really a new concept, it certainly is put into an easy perspective so anyone can try their hand at it. All well worth the read, or you can catch a video after the jump.

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Shred air with Theremin Hero

Remember those Ebay auctions of air guitars going for several thousands of dollars? We don’t either, but Theremin Hero (more info in the YouTube description) is about as legit as you can get to actually rocking on nothing but air.

Much like using a theremin to control Mario, the vertical antenna acts as the fret board while the horizontal one detects strumming. Combine the output of the theremin with some custom software (yet to be released) and Guitar Hero and you have Theremin Hero Air Guitar.

[via Bob's House of Video Games]