Tonewheels were an early way to produce electronic organ sounds: by spinning a toothed wheel at different frequencies and transcending the signal one way or another it was possible to synthesize quite an array of sounds. We like to imagine that they’re all still there in [Laruent]’s organ, albeit very tiny, but the truth is that they’re being synthesized entirely on an STM32 micro controller.
The build itself is beautiful and extremely professional looking. We were unaware that it was possible to buy keybeds for a custom synthesizer, but a model from FATAR sits at the center of the show. There’s a MIDI encoder board and a Nucleo development board inside, tied together with a custom PCB. The UI is an momentary encoder wheel and a display from Mikroelektronika.
You can see and hear this beautiful instrument in the video after the break.
As any content creator knows, good audio is the key to maintaining an audience. Having a high quality microphone is a start, but it’s also necessary to reduce echoes and other unwanted noise. An isolation shield is key here, and [phico] has the low down on making your own.
The build starts with an IKEA lampshade, so it’s a great excuse to head down to the flatpack store and grab yourself some Köttbullar for lunch while you’re at it (that’s meatballs for those less versed in IKEA’s cafeteria fare). This is really more of a powder-coated steel frame than a shade, perfect as the bones of an enclosure. [Phico] hacks it open with a Dremel to make room for the microphone. Cardboard soaked in wallpaper paste is then used to create a papier-mache-like shell, which is then stuffed with acoustic foam. A small opening is left to allow the narrator’s voice to reach the microphone, while blocking sound from other directions. Finally, a stocking is wrapped around the whole assembly to act as an integral anti-pop filter.
As all parents are sometimes required to do, [Tom] was acting as chauffeur for his daughter and his friends. When he played the Beatles one of his passengers informed him that she was completely devoid of taste and didn’t like them at all. So he decided what the world needed was a Beatles appliance. This way all the ignorant plebs could educate themselves at the push of a button.
The machine is based around some SEED studio parts and a simple PCB. It was able to hold all 12 original albums and even announced their titles in a generated voice. Since the kit is easy to put together it was quickly re-purposed as a teaching aid. They get to learn the laser cutter and do some through-hole soldering.
He has plans to turn it into a more formal how-to workshop that anyone can duplicate.He’d also like to make a small software suite for playing with text-to-speech and hacking the speaker into other roles such as a multi meter.
We realize that some PCs have support for the extra pins on cellphone earbuds, but at least some of us have experienced the frustration (however small) of habitually reaching up to touch the media controls on our earbuds only to hear the forlorn click of an inactive-button. This solves that, assuming you’re still holding on to those 3.5mm headphones, at least.
The media controls are intercepted by a PIC16 and a small board splits and interprets the signals into a male 3.5mm and a USB port. What really impressed us is the professional-looking design and enclosure. A lot of care was taken to plan out the wiring, assembly, and strain relief. Overall it’s a pleasure to look at.
All the files are available, so with a bit of soldering, hacking, and careful sanding someone could put together a professional looking dongle for their own set-up.
As somebody who loves technology and wildlife and also needs to develop an old farmhouse, going down the bat detector rabbit hole was a journey hard to resist. Bats are ideal animals for hackers to monitor as they emit ultrasonic frequencies from their mouths and noses to communicate with each other, detect their prey and navigate their way around obstacles such as trees — all done in pitch black darkness. On a slight downside, many species just love to make their homes in derelict buildings and, being protected here in the EU, developers need to make a rigorous survey to ensure as best as possible that there are no bats roosting in the site.
Obviously, the authorities require a professional independent survey, but there’s still plenty of opportunity for hacker participation by performing a ‘pre-survey’. Finding bat roosts with DIY detectors will tell us immediately if there is a problem, and give us a head start on rethinking our plans.
As can be expected, bat detectors come in all shapes and sizes, using various electrickery techniques to make them cheaper to build or easier to use. There are four different techniques most popularly used in bat detectors.
Heterodyne: rather like tuning a radio, pitch is reduced without slowing the call down.
Time expansion: chunks of data are slowed down to human audible frequencies.
Frequency division: uses a digital counter IC to divide the frequency down in real time.
Full spectrum: the full acoustic spectrum is recorded as a wav file.
Fortunately, recent advances in technology have now enabled manufacturers to produce relatively cheap full spectrum devices, which give the best resolution and the best chances of identifying the actual bat species.
DIY bat detectors tend to be of the frequency division type and are great for helping spot bats emerging from buildings. An audible noise from a speaker or headphones can prompt us to confirm that the fleeting black shape that we glimpsed was actually a bat and not a moth in the foreground. I used one of these detectors in conjunction with a video recorder to confirm that a bat was indeed NOT exiting from an old chimney pot. Phew!
[Don] bought some off-brand Bluetooth earbuds online that actually sound pretty good. But while it’s true that they don’t require wires for listening to tunes, the little storage/charging box they sleep in definitely has a micro USB port around back. Ergo, they are not truly wireless. So [Don] took it upon himself to finish what the manufacturer started. Because it’s 2019, and words have meaning.
Finally, he had a use for that Qi charger he’s had lying around since the Galaxy S5 era. [Don] pried the earbud case open with a guitar pick and found a nicely laid-out charging circuit board without any black goop.
Once he located ground and Vcc pads, it was just a matter of performing a bit of surgery on the coil’s pins so he could solder wires there instead. Miraculously, the Qi coil fit perfectly inside the bottom of the case and the plastic is thin enough that it doesn’t interfere with the charging.
We’ve always felt that sections of PVC pipe from the home improvement store are a criminally underutilized construction material, and it looks like [Troy Proffitt] feels the same way. Rather than trying to entirely 3D print the enclosure for his recently completed portable Bluetooth speaker, he combined printed parts with a piece of four inch pipe from the Home Depot.
While using PVC pipe naturally means your final hardware will have a distinctly cylindrical look, it does provide compelling advantages over trying to print the entire thing. For one, printing an enclosure this large would have taken hours or potentially even days. But by limiting the printed parts to accessories like the face plate, handle, and caps, [Troy] reduced that time considerably. Of course, even if you’re not in a rush, it’s worth mentioning that a PVC pipe will be far stronger than anything your desktop FDM printer is likely to squirt out.
[Troy] provides links for all the hardware he used, such as the speakers, tweeters, and the Bluetooth audio board itself. The system is powered by an 1800 mAh 3S RC-style battery pack that he says lasts for hours, though he also links to a wall adapter that can be used if you don’t mind being tethered. Unfortunately it doesn’t look like he has any internal shots of the build, but given the relatively short parts list, we imagine it’s all fairly straightforward inside.
While this is certainly a respectable looking build considering it started life in the plumbing aisle, we have to admit that we’ve seen some portable Bluetooth speakers with fully 3D printed enclosures in the past that looked absolutely phenomenal. The tradeoff seems pretty clear: reuse existing materials to save time, print them if you don’t mind reinventing the wheel occasionally.