Hackaday Prize Entry: Orchestral Invention Defies Convention

Like many of us, [Laurens] likes video game music and bending hardware to his will. Armed with a Printrbot, a couple of floppy drives, and some old HDDs, he built the Unconventional Instrument Orchestra. This 2015 Hackaday Prize contender takes any MIDI file and plays it on stepper and solenoid-based hardware through a Java program.

A while back, [Laurens] won a Fubarino in our contest by using a MIDI keyboard and an Arduino to control the Minecraft environment with Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time songs. The Unconventional Instrument Orchestra uses that Fubarino of victory to control the steppers of two floppy drives. He only needed three pins to control the drives—one to enable, one to set the head’s direction, and one to make it step once per pulse.

If ever you’ve been around a 3D printer, you know they make music as a natural side effect. The problem is getting the printer to obey the rests in a piece of music. In order to do this, [Laurens] used his software to control the printer, essentially withholding the next command until the appropriate time in the song.

The percussive elements of this orchestra are provided by a hard drive beating its head against the wall. Since it’s basically impossible to get an HDD to do this as designed (thankfully), [Laurens] replaced the control board with a single transistor to drive the coil that moves the head.

[Laurens] has made several videos of the orchestra in concert, which are a joy all their own. Most of the visual real estate of each video is taken up with a real-time visualization of the music produced by the software. There’s still plenty of room to show the orchestra itself, song-specific gameplay, and a textual commentary crawl in 16-segment displays. Check out the playlist we’ve embedded after the break.

The 2015 Hackaday Prize is sponsored by:

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Fubarino Contest: Minecraft, Zelda, Arduinos, And Hackaday


In a clever bit of pandering to the gamer crowd for the Fubarino Contest, [Laurens] has combined The Legend of Zelda, Minecraft, and an Arduino to create something really, really cool.

[Laurens] cobbled together an Arduino, MIDI connector, and LCD display that will read a MIDI keyboard and detect when one of the songs from Ocarina of Time/Majora’s Mask is played. The Arduino then plays back the song slower and longer, just like in the game.

Here’s where things get cool: Since [Laurens] has an Arduino that knows when an OoT/MM song is played, he can have the Sun Song control the lights, or the Song of Storms turn his sprinkler system on. He chose to pipe all these commands into Minecraft, where the Song of Healing gives some health to the Minecraft character, the Song of Storms controls the rain, and other awesome mashups of Zelda and Minecraft.

This project offers more than enough to stand on its own, but [Laurens] also added a Hackaday easter egg. When playing the letters HAD in ASCII on the keyboard, our favorite URL shows up on the Arduino and inside Minecraft.

Here’s an image gallery and the source code (dropbox, so don’t spam it) for [Laurens]’ awesome project.

This is an entry in the Fubarino Contest for a chance at one of the 20 Fubarino SD boards which Microchip has put up as prizes!

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Zelda is the princess, now Link is too

[Mike] is a huge fan of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker and now that he has a daughter it’s a great time to pass this epic quest down to the next generation. There’s a problem with explaining the plot to her daughter, though: even though the player can name the character after themselves, there’s no way to change the gendered pronouns. Yes, it’s a problem that could have been solved by a cameo by Professor Oak asking, “Are you a boy or a girl?’ but [Mike] came up with a better solution: changing all the pronouns with a ROM hack.

There are a few ‘problems’ with altering the dialogue with a ROM hack. Most importantly, all the new pronouns need to be the same length as the words they replace. [Mike] is using the word ‘milady’ to replace ‘my lad’ and ‘master,’ but also had to take a page from critiques of modern epics and replace ‘swordsman’ with ‘swordmain.’

So far, everything is working as planned and the [Mike]’s daughter [Maya] is enjoying seeing herself sail her dragon ship and battle foes. It’s a great effort to bring some semblance of gender neutrality to a classic game, and an awesome project for a really great dad.

Thanks to [Guillaume] for sending this one in.

Zelda engagement ring box seals the deal

Congratulations to [John Scancella] and his wife to be. Their recent engagement was aided by one of [John’s] projects. Since [Betsy] is a big fan of Zelda, he thought it would be fun to present the ring with the Zelda music playing in the background. He and a friend combined forces to build what you seen in this image.

The music is played by an Arduino with the help of a wave shield. This is pretty much a one-use item so battery life was never a concern. A magnetic switch was used to detect when the box was opened and start the music playing.

You can see the full-sized images after the break, but we can tell that [John] went with a traditional engagement ring. We’re still waiting to see if 3D printed rings are going to catch on in the geek scene. If you just can’t give her anything but precious metal there’s always the idea of encoding messages on the band itself.

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A locking chest with a musical key


[Basil Shikin] was thinking about different types of locks, and was trying to come up with a locking solution that he had yet to see. It dawned on him that he had never come across a lock triggered by music, so he set off to construct one of his own.

He ordered a wooden chest online, then proceeded to piece together the electronics required for the locking mechanism as well as the music detecting logic. Using an Atmega328P paired with an electret mic, his system listens for a particular tune (the Prelude of Light from the Ocarina of Time) to be played , which triggers a tiny servo to undo the latch. To do this, he implemented a version of the Goertzel Algorithm on the Arduino, allowing him to accurately detect the magical tune by frequency, regardless of what instrument it is played on.

Be sure to check out the video below to see his musical lock in action.

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