Limitations placed on any creative process often paradoxically create an environment in which creativity flourishes. A simple overview of modern pop, rock, or country music illustrates this principle quite readily. A bulk of these songs are built around a very small subset of music theory, often varying no more than the key or the lyrics. Somehow, almost all modern popular music exists within this tiny realm. [DeckerEgo] may have had this idea in mind when he created this tiny MIDI device which allows the creation of complex musical scores using a keyboard with only 12 buttons.
The instrument is based around the Adafruit MacroPad, which is itself built on the RP2040 chip. As a MIDI device, it needs to be connected to a computer running software which can support MIDI instruments, but once its assembled and given its firmware, it’s ready to rock. A musician can select one of any number of musical scales to operate within, and the 12 keys on the pad are mapped to the 12 chromatic notes within that scale. It can also be used to generate drum tracks or other backing tracks to loop before being used to create melodies as well.
[DeckerEgo] took a bit of inspiration from an even simpler macro pad we featured before which is based around the idea that a shockingly high number of songs use the same four chords. His macro pad includes creation of chord progressions as well, but expands on that idea to make more complete compositions possible. And, for those looking to build their own or expand on this project, he has also made all of the source code available on his GitHub page.
Continue reading “Compose Any Song With Twelve Buttons” →
Neural interfaces have made great strides in recent years, but still suffer from poor longevity and resolution. Researchers at the University of Cambridge have developed a biohybrid implant to improve the situation.
As we’ve seen before, interfacing electronics and biological systems is no simple feat. Bodies tend to reject foreign objects, and transplanted nerves can have difficulty assuming new roles. By combining flexible electronics and induced pluripotent stem cells into a single device, the researchers were able to develop a high resolution neural interface that can selectively bind to different neuron types which may allow for better separation of sensation and motor signals in future prostheses.
As is typically the case with new research, the only patients to benefit so far are rats and only on the timescale of the study (28 days). That said, this is a promising step forward for regenerative neurology.
We’re no strangers to bioengineering here. Checkout how you can heal faster with electronic bandages or build a DIY vibrotactile stimulator for Coordinated Reset Stimulation (CRS).
(via Interesting Engineering)
Whether you’re making coffee or beer or complex chemicals, weighing your ingredients carefully and tracking them is key to getting good results. [Tech Dregs] decided to build a logging scale that would work seamlessly with his smartphone, and shared the design on YouTube.
The design begins with a Greater Goods manual electronic scale, which was chosen for its convenient design and 750 gram load cell. Once cracked open, [Tech Dregs] pulled out the original PCB to replace it with his own. Only the original buttons are used, with an Seed Xiao ESP32-C3 replacing the scale’s original brains. The original LCD screen was swapped out for an OLED display, and it also got a rechargeable lithium battery for better usability.
The real value of the project, though, is its communication capability. It’s able to talk to an Android smartphone over Bluetooth Low Energy. Thanks to a custom app, [Tech Dregs] is able to log weight readings from the scale over time and even graph them live on the smartphone. As a demonstration, the scale is used to log the weight of a cup as it fills with a shot of coffee, which should serve [Tech Dregs] well in his coffee automation projects.
We’ve seen bathroom scales hacked before, too, with similar connectivity upgrades.
Continue reading “The BLE Datalogging Scale Of A Thousand Uses” →
If there’s one thing we’ve learned from [Chris] at Clickspring, it’s that a clockmaker will stop at nothing to make a clock not only work perfectly, but look good doing it. That includes measures as extreme as this complete re-toothing of a wheel from a clock. Is re-toothing even a word?
The obsessive horologist in this case is [Tommy Jobson], who came across a clock that suffered a catastrophic injury: a sudden release of energy from the fusee, the cone-shaped pulley that adjusts for the uneven torque created by the clock’s mainspring. The mishap briefly turned the movement into a lathe that cut the tops off all the teeth on the main wheel.
Rather than fabricate a completely new wheel, [Tommy] chose to rework the damaged one. After building a special arbor to hold the wheel, he turned it down on the lathe, leaving just the crossings and a narrow rim. A replacement blank was fabricated from brass and soldered to the toothless wheel, turned to size, and given a new set of teeth using one of the oddest lathe setups we’ve ever seen. Once polished and primped, the repair is only barely visible.
Honestly, the repaired wheel looks brand new to us, and the process of getting it to that state was fascinating to watch. If the video below whets your appetite for clockmaking, have we got a treat for you.
Continue reading “Stripped Clock Wheel Gets A New Set Of Teeth, The Hard Way” →
While we might all be quick to grab a microcontroller and an appropriate sensor to solve some problem, gather data about a system, or control another piece of technology, there are some downsides with this method. Software has a lot of failure modes, and relying on it without any backups or redundancy can lead to problems. Often, a much more reliable way to solve a simple problem is with hardware. This heating circuit, for example, uses a MOSFET as a heating element and as its own temperature control.
The function of the circuit relies on a parasitic diode formed within the transistor itself, inherent in its construction. This diode is found in most power MOSFETs and conducts from the source to the drain. The key is that it conducts at a rate proportional to its temperature, so if the circuit is fed with AC, during the negative half of the voltage cycle this diode can be probed and used as a thermostat. In this build, it is controlled by a set of resistors attached to a voltage regulator, which turn the heater on if it hasn’t reached its threshold temperature yet.
In theory, these resistors could be replaced with potentiometers to allow for adjustable heat for certain applications, with plastic cutting and welding, temperature control for small biological systems, or heating other circuits as target applications for this type of analog circuitry. For more analog circuit design inspiration, though, you’ll want to take a look at some classic pieces of electronics literature.
We often write quick bash scripts and judging by the comments, half of us use bash or a similar shell to pop out quick, useful scripts, and half of us think that’s an abomination, and you should only use bash for your command line and resort to something more like a traditional language to do anything else. If you’re in the former camp, you’re probably cursing your allegiance when you need to make your bash scripts more interactive.
Gum can help. It’s a utility that can handle your script input and output with a little flair while requiring almost no effort on your part.
The command looks simple, but it has twelve subcommands, each with myriad options. But you can break down the functions into a few simple categories. The input commands let you prompt for a line of input or a bunch of lines of input. You can also create a pick list or a yes/no type of prompt. There’s also a file picker and a filter, sort of like
Continue reading “Linux Fu: Gum Up Your Script” →
It’s been a long time since vacuum tubes were cutting-edge technology, but that doesn’t mean they don’t show up around here once in a while. And when they do, we like to feature them, because there’s still something charming, nay, romantic about a circuit built around hot glass and metal. To wit, we present this compact two-tube “spy radio” transmitter.
From the look around his shack — which we love, by the way — [Helge Fykse (LA6NCA)] really has a thing for old technology. The typewriter, the rotary phones, the boat-anchor receiver — they all contribute to the retro feel of the space, as well as the circuit he’s working on. The transmitter’s design is about as simple as can be: one tube serves as a crystal-controlled oscillator, while the other tube acts as a power amplifier to boost the output. The tiny transmitter is built into a small metal box, which is stuffed with the resistors, capacitors, and homebrew inductors needed to complete the circuit. Almost every component used has a vintage look; we especially love those color-coded mica caps. Aside from PCB backplane, the only real nod to modernity in the build is the use of 3D printed forms for the coils.
But does it work? Of course it does! The video below shows [Helge] making a contact on the 80-meter band over a distance of 200 or so kilometers with just over a watt of power. The whole project is an excellent demonstration of just how simple radio communications can be, as well as how continuous wave (CW) modulation really optimizes QRP setups like this.
Continue reading “Two-Tube Spy Transmitter Fits In The Palm Of Your Hand” →