Climbing Everest One Hill At A Time – And Keeping Track Of It

The internet is full of self-proclaimed challenges, ranging from some absolutely pointless fads to well-intended tasks with an actual purpose. In times of TikTok, the latter is of course becoming rarer, as a quick, effortless jump on the bandwagon is just easier for raising your internet points. Cyclists on the other hand love a good challenge where they compete with one another online, testing their skills and gamifying their favorite activity along the way. One option for that is Everesting, where you pick a hill of your choice, and within a single session you ride it up and down as many times as it takes until you accumulated the height of Mount Everest on it. Intrigued by the idea, but not so much its competitive aspect, [rabbitcreek] became curious how long it would take him to reach that goal with his own casual bicycle usage, so he built a bicycle computer to measure and keep track of it.

While the total distance and time factors into the actual challenge, [rabbitcreek]’s primary interest was the accumulated height, so the device’s main component is a BMP388 barometric pressure sensor attached to a battery-powered ESP32. An e-paper display shows the total height and completed percentage, along with some random Everest-related pictures. Everything is neatly packed together in a 3D-printed case that can be mounted on the bicycle’s handlebar, and the STL files are available along with the source code in his write-up.

Of course, if you’re actually interested in the challenge itself, you probably have an assortment of sports tracking equipment anyway, but this is a nice addition to keep track as you go, and has a lower risk of ransomware attacks. And in case [rabbitcreek] sounds like a familiar name to you, he’s indeed become a Hackaday regular with his environmental hacks like the tide clock, a handheld particle sniffer, or logging temperatures in the Alaskan wilderness.

Axe Hacks: Spinning Knobs And Flipping Switches

From a guitar hacking point of view, the two major parts that are interesting to us are the pickups and the volume/tone control circuit that lets you adjust the sound while playing. Today, I’ll get into the latter part and take a close look at the components involved — potentiometers, switches, and a few other passive components — and show how they function, what alternative options we have, and how we can re-purpose them altogether.

In that sense, it’s time to heat up the soldering iron, get out the screwdriver, and take off that pick guard / open up that back cover and continue our quest for new electric guitar sounds. And if the thought of that sounds uncomfortable, skip the soldering iron and grab some alligator clips and a breadboard. It may not be the ideal environment, but it’ll work.

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Fail Of The Week: Putting Guitar Strings On A Piano

The piano is a bit of an oddball within the string instrument family. Apart from rarely seeing people carry one around on the bus or use its case to discretely conceal a Tommy Gun, the way the strings are engaged in the first place — by having little hammers attached to each key knock the sound of of them — is rather unique compared to the usual finger or bow movement. Still, it is a string instrument, so it’s only natural to wonder what a piano would sound like if it was equipped with guitar strings instead of piano wire. Well, [Mattias Krantz] went on to actually find out the hard way, and shows the results in this video.

After a brief encounter with a bolt cutter, the point of no return was reached soon on. Now, the average piano has 88 keys, and depending on the note, a single key might have up to three strings involved at once. In case of [Mattias]’ piano — which, in his defense, has certainly seen better days — a total of 210 strings had to be replaced for the experiment. Guitars on the other hand have only six, so not only did he need 35 packs of guitar strings, the gauge and length variety is quite limited on top. What may sound like a futile endeavor from the beginning didn’t get much better over time, and at some point, the strings weren’t long enough anymore and he had to tie them together. Along with some inevitable breakage, he unfortunately ran out of strings and couldn’t finish the entire piano, though it seems he still managed to roughly cover a guitar’s frequency range, so that’s an appropriate result.

We’re not sure if [Mattias] ever expected this to actually work, but it kinda does — there is at least some real sound. Are the results more than questionable though? Oh absolutely, but we have to admire the audacity and perseverance he showed to actually pull through with this. It took him 28 hours just to get the guitar strings on, and another good amount of time to actually get them all in tune. Did it pay off? Well, that depends how you look at it. It definitely satisfied his and other’s curiosity, and the piano produces some really unique and interesting sounds now — but check for yourself in the video after the break. But that might not be for everyone, so luckily there are less final ways to change a piano’s sound. And worst case, you can always just turn it into a workbench.

(Thanks for the tip, [Keith])

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Raspberry Pi Crazy Guitar Rig Turns You Into A Hard ‘N Heavy One-Man Band

It’s a common problem: you’re at a party, there’s a guitar, and your plan to impress everyone with your Wonderwall playing skills is thwarted by the way too loud overall noise level. Well, [Muiota betarho] won’t have that issue ever again, and is going to steal the show anywhere he goes from now on with his Crazy Guitar Rig 2.0, an acoustic guitar turned electric — and so much more — that he shows off in three-part video series on his YouTube channel. For the impatient, here’s video 1, video 2, and video 3, but you’ll also find them embedded after the break.

To start off the series, [Muiota betarho] adds an electric guitar pickup, a set of speakers, and an amplifier board along with a battery pack into the body of a cheap acoustic guitar. He then dismantles a Zoom MS-50G multi-effect pedal and re-assembles it back into the guitar itself with a 3D-printed cover. Combining a guitar, effect pedal, amp and speaker into one standalone instrument would make this already an awesome project as it is, but this is only the beginning.

Touch screen and controls closeup
RPi touch screen running SunVox, plenty of buttons, and integrated multi-effect pedal on the left

So, time to add a Raspberry Pi running SunVox next, and throw in a touch screen to control it on the fly. SunVox itself is a free, but unfortunately not open source, cross-platform synthesizer and tracker that [Muiota betarho] uses to add drum tracks and some extra instruments and effects. He takes it even further in the final part when he hooks SunVox up to the Raspberry Pi’s GPIO pins. This allows him to automate things like switching effects on the Zoom pedal, but also provides I/O connection for external devices like a foot switch, or an entire light show to accompany his playing.

Of course, adding a magnetic pickup to an acoustic guitar, or generally electrifying acoustic instruments like a drum kit for example, isn’t new. Neither is using a single-board computer as effect pedal or as an amp in your pocket. Having it all integrated into one single device on the other hand rightfully earns this guitar its Crazy Guitar Rig name.

(Thanks for the tip, [alex]!)

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Keep Your YouTube Habits To Yourself With FreeTube

If your usual YouTube viewing selection covers a wild and random variety of music, tech subjects, cooking, history, and anything in-between, you will sooner or later be baffled by some of the “Recommended for you” videos showing up. When it features a ten-hour mix of Soviet propaganda choir music, you might start wondering what a world taken over by an artificial intelligence might actually look like, and realize that your browser’s incognito / private mode really isn’t just for shopping birthday presents in secret. Things get a bit tricky if you actually enjoy or even rely on the whole subscribing-to-channels concept though, which is naturally difficult to bring in line with privacy in today’s world of user-data-driven business models.

Entering the conversation: the FreeTube project, a cross-platform application whose mission is to regain privacy and put the control of one’s data back into the user’s hands. Bypassing YouTube and its player, the watch history and subscriptions — which are still possible — are kept only locally on your own computer, and you can import either of them from YouTube and export them to use within FreeTube on another device (or back to YouTube). Even better, it won’t load a video’s comments without explicitly telling it to, and of course it keeps out the ads as well.

Originally, the Invidious API was used to get the content, and is still supported as fallback option, but FreeTube comes with its own extractor API nowadays. All source code is available from the project’s GitHub repository, along with pre-built packages for Linux (including ARM), Windows, and Mac. The application itself is created using Electron, which might raise a few eyebrows as it packs an entire browser rendering engine and essentially just disguises a website as standalone application. But as the FAQ addresses, this allows easy cross-platform support and helps the project, which would have otherwise been Linux-only, to reach as many people as possible. That’s a valid point in our book.

Keep in mind though, FreeTube is only a player, and more of a wrapper around YouTube itself, so YouTube will still see your IP and interaction with the service. If you want to be fully anonymous, this isn’t a silver bullet and will require additional steps like using a VPN. Unlike other services that you could replace with a local alternative to avoid tracking and profiling, content services are just a bit trickier if you want to actually have a useful selection. So this is a great compromise that also just works out of the box for everyone regardless of their technical background. Let’s just hope it won’t break too much next time some API changes.

Electric Volkspod Takes You On An Eco-friendly Beetle Cruise

The Volkswagen Beetle is a true automobile icon, and while it may not be the fastest or most breathtaking looking car ever built, its unmistakable shape with those elegant curvy fenders and bulgy lights holds a special place in many people’s hearts. And then it inspires them to build minibikes from those same parts.

[Brent Walter] is well know as an originator of the hobby, starting a little while ago with his Volkspod. Inspired by [Brent’s] work, [Jonah Mikesell] decided to give it his own try, but unlike the original design that uses an actual minibike under the hood, he built an electric version of it, and painstakingly documented every step along the way.

The idea of the Volkspod is to take the Beetle’s two front fenders, weld them together to one symmetric body, and turn it into a small motorcycle. [Jonah]’s version does all that, but instead of taking a whole minibike as core of the project, he only uses a minibike frame and substitutes the engine with a 2000 Watt e-bike motor along with an e-bike battery pack. Fitting the frame within the dimensions of the fender construct required some extra welding work, but in the end, it all came nicely together, and with its red paint job, it kinda looks like something from a vintage post-apocalyptic sci-fi cross-genre movie. Watch him taking it for a spin in the video after the break.

Unfortunately, neither the original Volkspod nor this one has the roaring engine sound of an actual Beetle — which is akin to what the wings of a real-life beetle of similar size would probably sound like. But well, it’s always an option to fake that. And if [Jonah] ever feels the urge of a bigger engine, maybe a washing machine can help.

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A Battery To Add A Tingling Sensation To Your Tweets

Internet-connected sex toys are a great way to surprise your partner from work (even the home office) or for spicing up long-distance relationships. For some extra excitement, they also add that thrill of potentially having all your very sensitive private data exposed to the public — but hey, it’s not our place to kink-shame. However, their vulnerability issues are indeed common enough to make them regular guests in security conferences, so what better way to fight fire with fire than simply inviting the whole of Twitter in on your ride? Well, [Space Buck] built just the right device for that: the Double-Oh Battery, an open source LiPo-cell-powered ESP32 board in AA battery form factor as drop-in replacement to control a device’s supply voltage via WiFi.

Battery and PCB visualization
Double-Oh Battery with all the components involved

In their simplest and cheapest form, vibrating toys are nothing more than a battery-powered motor with an on-off switch, and even the more sophisticated ones with different intensity levels and patterns are usually limited to the same ten or so varieties that may eventually leave something to be desired. To improve on that without actually taking the devices apart, [Space Buck] initially built the Slot-in Manipulator of Output Levels, a tiny board that squeezed directly onto the battery to have a pre-programmed pattern enabling and disabling the supply voltage — or have it turned into an alarm clock. But understandably, re-programming patterns can get annoying in the long run, so adding WiFi and a web server seemed the logical next step. Of course, more functionality requires more space, so to keep the AA battery form factor, the Double-Oh Battery’s PCB piggybacks now on a smaller 10440 LiPo cell.

But then, where’s the point of having a WiFi-enabled vibrator with a web server — that also happens to serve a guestbook — if you don’t open it up to the internet? So in some daring experiments, [Space Buck] showcased the project’s potential by hooking it up to his Twitter account and have the announcement tweet’s likes and retweets take over the control, adding a welcoming element of surprise, no doubt. Taking this further towards Instagram for example might be a nice vanity reward-system improvement as well, or otherwise make a great gift to send a message to all those attention-seeking people in your circle.

All fun aside, it’s an interesting project to remote control a device’s power supply, even though its application area might be rather limited due to the whole battery nature, but the usual Sonoff switches may seem a bit unfitting here. If this sparked your interest in lithium-based batteries, check out [Lewin Day]’s beginner guide and [Bob Baddeley]’s deeper dive into their chemistry.