[Love Hultén]’s latest piece of interactive art is the SYNTH#BOI, a super-clean build with something of the semi-cyberdeck, semi-vintage computing vibe to it. The device is a combination synthesizer and visualizer, with a 15-inch display, MIDI keyboard, and based on an Intel NUC i5 small form factor PC.
There are not many details about the internal workings of the device, but the high quality of the build is very evident. Photos show a fantastic-looking enclosure with clean lines and sharp finish; it’s a reminder that careful measuring and attention to detail can be the difference between something that looks like a hack job, and something that looks like a finished product.
Watch the SYNTH#BOI in action in the video, embedded below. And if the name [Love Hultén] seems familiar, it’s probably because we featured his VOC-25 “Pink Denture Synth”, a concept instrument with a decidedly memorable design of its own.
Continue reading “Synth And Visualizer Combo Has Retrocomputing Vibe” →
Research projects have a funny way of getting blown out of proportion by the non-experts, over-promising the often relatively small success that the dedicated folks doing the science have managed to eke out. Scaling-up cost-effectively is one of the biggest killers for commercializing research, which is why recent developments in creating carbon nanotube transistors have us hopeful.
Currently, most cutting-edge processes use FETs (Field Effect Transistors). As they’ve gotten smaller, we’ve added fins and other tricks to get around the fact that things get weird when they’re small. The industry is looking to move to GAAFETs (Gate All Around FET) as Intel and Samsung have declared their 3 nm processes (or equivalent) will use the new type of gate. As transistors have shrunk, the “off-state” leakage current has grown. GAAFETs are multi-gate devices, allowing better control of that leakage, among other things.
As usual, we’re already looking at what is past 3 nm towards 2 nm, and the concern is that GAAFET won’t scale past 3 nm. Carbon Nanotubes are an up-and-coming technology as they offer a few critical advantages. They conduct heat exceptionally well, exhibit higher transconductance, and conduct large amounts of power. In addition, they show higher electron mobility than conventional MOSFETs and often outperform them with less power even while being at larger sizes. This is all to say that they’re an awesome piece of tech with a few caveats. Continue reading “Falling Down The Carbon Rabbit Hole” →
Have you ever wondered how an electronic wind vane translates a direction into a unique signal? It seems as though it might be very complicated, and indeed some of them are. [martinm] over at yoctopuce.com has an excellent writeup about measuring wind direction using just a single, easily printed disk and some phototransistors.
Commercial weather vanes often use complicated multi-tracked disks with magnets and reed switches, conductive traces and brushes, or some other means of getting a fine resolution. Unfortunately some of these are prone to wear or are otherwise more complicated than they need to be.
What makes [martinm]’s solution unique is that they have applied previous research on the subject to a simple and durable 3d printed wind vane that looks like it’ll be able to handle whatever global warming can throw at it. The encoder’s simplicity means that it could likely be used in a large number of applications where low resolution position sensing is more than enough- the definition of a great hack!
Adding more tracks or even more disks would enable higher resolution, but the 12 degree resolution seems quite good for the purpose. Such a neat wind vane design will surely be welcome if you want to 3d print your own weather station. Thanks to [Adrian] for the great tip!
High-voltage experimenters have been using automotive ignition coils to generate impressive sparks in the home lab for decades, and why not? They’re cheap, easily obtainable, and at the end of the day, producing sparks is literally what they’re designed to do. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement.
In his latest Plasma Channel video [Jay Bowles] revisits this classic experiment, bringing to bear the considerable high-voltage experience he’s gained over the last several years. Building on an earlier setup that used a single Honda ignition coil, this new dual-coil version can produce up to 60,000 volts and is driven by a cleaner and more reliable circuit based on the iconic 555 timer. A pair of potentiometers on the front of the driver can adjust its square wave output from 1 to 10 kilohertz manually, while a commercial Bluetooth audio receiver tied into the 555 circuit allows the output to be modulated by simply playing audio from a paired device.
Continue reading “Honda Ignition Coils Sing The Song Of Their People” →
Drum kits used to be key to any serious band, however, these days, much of our music is created on computer or using a drum machine instead. [spanceac] has built a simple example of the latter, using a microcontroller to build a basic sample-based drum toy.
The brains of the operation is the STM32F100VET6B, which comes complete with a 12-bit DAC for outputting sound. It’s also got a healthy 512 KB of flash, enabling it to store the drum samples onboard without the need for extra parts. Samples are stored at a sample rate of 22,050 Hz in 16-bit resolution – decent quality for a tiny little build, even if the DAC chops that back down to 12-bits later.
[spanceac] was sure to code proper mixing into the drum machine, so that triggering a second sample doesn’t stop the first one playing. With a kick, snare, two toms, and crash and ride samples onboard, there’s plenty to get a solid beat going on the kit. It’s all built up on a small PCB with tactile buttons to activate each sound.
The demo video shows the kit performing ably; it’s not clear if there’s an issue with latency on the samples or that’s just from the difficulty of [spanceac] playing one-handed. If the former, likely some code tweaks or simply trimming silence at the start of samples would be all that was needed. Overall, it’s a neat little groovebox, and the kind of thing that’s great fun to use when jamming with other musicians. Video after the break.
Continue reading “Electronic Drum Toy Built From Scratch” →
There’s an old saying about something being a “drop in the ocean.” That’s how I felt faced with the prospect of replacing a 12 V heated bed on my printer with a new 24 V one. The old bed had a nice connector assembled from the factory, although I had replaced the cable long ago due to heating issues with that particular printer. The new bed, however, just had bare copper pads.
I’m no soldering novice: I made my first solder joint sometime in the early 1970s. So I felt up to the challenge, but I also knew I wouldn’t be able to use my usual Edsyn iron for a job like this. Since the heated bed is essentially a giant heatsink for these pads, I knew it would require the big guns. I dug out my old — and I mean super old — Weller 140 W soldering gun. Surely, that would do the trick, right?
Continue reading “3D Printering: Soldering A Heated Bed” →
The Space Shuttle’s solid rocket boosters were reusable, although ultimately the overall system didn’t prove cheaper than expendable launches. But given the successes of the Falcon 9 program — booster B1051 completed its 11th mission last month — the idea of a rocket stage returning to the launch site and being reused isn’t such a crazy proposition anymore. It’s not surprising that other space agencies around the world are pursuing this technology.
Last year the India Space Research Organization (ISRO) announced plans for a reusable launcher program based on their GSLV Mark III rocket. The Japan Aerospace Exploratory Agency (JAXA) announced last Fall that it is beginning a reusable rocket project, in cooperation with various industries and universities in Japan. The South Korean space agency, Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI), was surprised in November when lawmakers announced a reusable rocket program that wasn’t requested in their 2022 budget. Not in Asia, but in December France’s ArianeGroup announced a reusable rocket program called Maïa.
Speaking of South Korea’s rocketry program, we wrote about the Nuri rocket in October which failed to reach orbit because of a problem in the third stage. Kari recently completed a review of all the data, and concluded the problem was with the anchors of the helium tanks which are located inside the oxidizer tank.
Apparently the changing buoyancy of the submerged tanks with altitude wasn’t completely accounted for in the design of the mounting brackets. When they ultimately failed, the resulting broken piping caused a LOX leak and the subsequent 46-second premature engine shutdown. The next scheduled launch in May 2022 will very likely be delayed.