When we think of MIDI devices, we typically jump straight to drum machines, rack synths, and keyboard controllers. However, there’s nothing saying you can’t build your own MIDI controllers that use the magic of breath to do their musical duty. That’s precisely what [Xavier Dumont] did with this unique 3D printed build.
The device looks somewhat like an alien ship from an animated 1960s sci-fi movie, but it’s actually a sophisticated MIDI controller. Naturally, it’s peppered with buttons as every good controller should be, and it features a touch-control strip on the back.
However, the real magic is in the breath control. When the user blows into the sensor, the device sends out MIDI signals of varying intensity to control the object of the player’s desire. The breath signal can be used to modulate the mod wheel, pitch bends, or octave shifts, among a variety of other options.
[Xavier] wields the instrument with prowess in the audio demos at the end of the video. We can imagine this futuristic thing being played by a background alien in a celebration scene in a far-flung Marvel movie. Or maybe Star Wars? In any case, a triumph.
Continue reading “Building A Breath-Controlled MIDI Device”
While synthesizers in the music world are incredibly common, they’re not all keyboard-based instruments as you might be imagining. Especially if you’re trying to get a specific feel or sound from a synthesizer in order to mimic a real instrument, there might be a better style synth that you can use. One of these types is the breath controller, a synthesizer specifically built to mimic the sound of wind instruments using the actual breath from a physical person. Available breath controllers can be pricey, though, so [Andrey] built his own.
To build the synthesizer, [Andrey] used a melodica hose and mouthpiece connected to a pressure sensor. He then built a condenser circuit on a custom Arduino shield and plugged it all into an Arduino Mega (although he notes that this is a bit of overkill). From there, the Arduino needed to be programmed to act as a MIDI device and to interact with the pressure sensor, and he was well on his way to a wind instrument synthesizer.
The beauty of synthesizers is not just in their ability to match the look and sound of existing instruments but to do things beyond the realm of traditional instruments as well, sometimes for a greatly reduced price point.
Continue reading “Don’t Forget Your Mints When Using This Synthesizer”
An oasis in the desert is the quintessential image of salvation for the wearied wayfarer. At Burning Man 2016, Grove — ten biofeedback tree sculptures — provided a similar, interactive respite from the festival. Each tree has over two thousand LEDs, dozens of feet of steel tube, two Teensy boards used by the custom breath sensors to create festival magic.
Grove works like this: at your approach — detected by dual IR sensors — a mechanical flower blooms, meant to prompt investigation. As you lean close, the breath sensors in the daffodil-like flower detect whether you’re inhaling or exhaling, translating the input into a dazzling pulse of LED light that snakes its way down the tree’s trunk and up to the bright, 3W LEDs on the tips of the branches.
Debugging and last minute soldering in the desert fixed a few issues, before setup — no project is without its hiccups. The entire grove was powered by solar-charged, deep-cycle batteries meant to least from sunset to sunrise — or close enough if somebody forgot to hook the batteries up to charge.
Continue reading “An Interactive Oasis At Burning Man”
When your batteries run low you can use your body to recharge them. This contraption generates power from chest expansion while breathing. [Jmengel] used some gears from old optical drives to boost the RPM generated by a belt around your torso that he calls a thorax expansion coupler. When you breath in, that belt pulls on a plate that spins the gears, ultimately rotating a small motor. The AC current generated by that motor is run through a rectifier and a boost converter, then fed to a charging circuit.
Does it work? Not really, as this only outputs around 50 mW. But we like the twinge of Dune nostalgia we get looking at it. Wouldn’t this be a perfect addition to a stillsuit?