TuneShroom Is An Artistic Mushroom-Themed MIDI Controller

Most MIDI controllers are modelled after traditional instruments, like pianos, flutes, or guitars. [Oliver Child] went in a different direction for the TuneShroom, instead modelling his DIY controller after the terrifying, unclassifiable living organism we call the mushroom.

The project was a fun way for [Oliver] to try creating a project with an artistic PCB design, and it worked out well in that regard. He penned a circuit board in the shape of a toadstool, with conductive pads serving as capacitive touch points to activate various notes.

The design is based around the Sparkfun Pro Micro, but it’s not programmed in Arduino. [Oliver] wanted to make full use of the ATmega32U4 microcontroller and have freedom to use the pins at will, so instead the project was programmed with a patched version of LUFA to handle the USB side of things. MIDI data is naturally piped out over this interface to an attached computer.

Files are on Github for the curious. Alternatively, contemplate turning an entire saxophone into a MIDI controller in your spare time. Video after the break.

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Swapping Nunchucks For A Steering Wheel

Rather than chasing pure performance and high quality graphics like other gaming companies, Nintendo has made a name for themselves over the last few decades by favoring not only artistic design and gameplay, but the physical design of the game systems. Of course the hybrid handheld Switch console is among these, but it also includes things like the novel design of the Nintendo 64 controller and, of course, the Wii nunchuck controllers. They’re not always met with resounding approval, though. Some of us tend to prefer more traditional gamepad design, and will go to extreme lengths to get it like this D-pad for playing Mario Kart Wii.

Rather than simply building a compatible controller for the Wii, or even using a GameCube controller, this controller setup takes a more roundabout approach. A Wiimote is placed in a holster built from Lego, and the game is set up to recognize it as if it were being used in its steering wheel mode. The Lego holster has a servo attached which can tilt the Wiimote from side to side, mimicking a player holding it to play the game, with another set of servos set up to press the various buttons. To control the controller, a homebrew D-pad built on perfboard with an Arduino at its core is used to send commands to the servos, allowing for a more standard controller layout to be used for the classic kart racing game than the steering wheel Wiimote allows.

While it’s quite obvious that there are simpler, easier solutions that avoid the sometimes awkward nature of using Wiimotes, we certainly appreciate the Rube Goldberg-like approach to setting up your gaming experience exactly the way you like. Whether that’s setting up an antique CRT effect for the authentic retro gaming experience or building a complete racing simulator from scratch, the gaming experience is ripe for personalization and unique builds like this one.

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A General-Purpose PID Controller

For those new to fields like robotics or aerospace, it can seem at first glance that a problem like moving a robot arm or flying an RC airplane might be simple problems to solve. It turns out, however, that control of systems like these can get complicated quickly; so much so that these types of problems have spawned their own dedicated branch of engineering. As controls engineers delve into this field, one of their initial encounters with a control system is often with the PID controller, and this open source project delivers two of these general-purpose controllers in one box.

The dual-channel PID controller was originally meant as a humidity and temperature controller and was based on existing software for an ATmega328. But after years of tinkering, adding new features, and moving the controller to an ESP32 platform, [knifter] has essentially a brand new piece of software for this controller. Configuring the controller itself is done before the software is compiled, and it includes a GUI since one of the design goals of the project was ease-of-use. He’s used it to control humidity, temperature and CO2 levels in his own work at the University of Amsterdam, but imagines that it could see further use outside of his use cases in things like reflow ovens which need simple on/off control or for motors which can be controlled through an H-bridge.

The PID controller itself seems fairly robust, and includes a number of features that seasoned controls engineers would look for in their PID controllers. There are additionally some other open-source PID controllers to take a look at like this one built for an Arduino, and if you’re still looking for interesting use cases for these types of controllers one of our favorites is this PID controller built into a charcoal grill.

An Open-Source Ebike Motor Controller

DIY e-bikes are often easy to spot. If they’re not built out of something insane like an old washing machine motor, the more subtle kits that are generally used still stand out when compared to a non-assisted bike. The motors tend to be hub- or mid-drive systems with visible wires leading to a bulky battery, all of which stand out when you know what to look for. To get a stealthy ebike that looks basically the same as a standard bicycle is only possible with proprietary name-brand solutions that don’t lend themselves to owner repair or modification, but this one has at least been adapted for use with an open source motor controller.

The bike in use here is a model called the Curt from Estonian ebike builder Ampler, which is notable in that it looks indistinguishable from a regular bicycle with the exception of the small 36-volt, 350-watt hub motor somewhat hidden in the rear wheel. [BB8] decided based on no reason in particular to replace the proprietary motor controller with one based on VESC, an open-source electric motor controller for all kinds of motors even beyond ebikes. Installed on a tiny Arduino, it fits inside the bike’s downtube to keep the stealthy look and can get the bike comfortably up to around 35 kph. It’s also been programmed to turn on the bike’s lights if the pedals are spun backwards, and this method is also used to change the pedal assist level, meaning less buttons and other user-interface devices on the handlebars. Continue reading “An Open-Source Ebike Motor Controller”

Toy Gaming Controller Makes The Big Leagues

Some of the off-brand video game consoles and even accessories for the major brands can leave a lot to be desired. Whether it’s poor build quality or a general lack of support or updates, there are quite a few things on the market not worth anyone’s time or money. [Jonathan] was recently handed just such a peripheral, a toy game controller originally meant for a small child, but upon further inspection it turned into a surprisingly hackable platform, capable of plenty of IoT-type tasks.

The controller itself was easily disassembled, and the functional buttons within were wired to a Wemos D1 Mini instead of the originally-planned ESP32 because of some wiring irregularities and the fact that the Wemos D1 Mini having the required amount of I/O. It’s still small enough to be sealed back inside the controller as well, powered by the batteries that would have powered the original controller.

For the software, [Jonathan] is using MQTT to register button presses with everything easily accessible over Wi-Fi, also making it possible to update the software wirelessly. He was able to use it to do a few things as proof-of-concept, including playing a game in PyGame and controlling a Sonos speaker, but for now he’s using it to control an LED sculpture. With something this easily modified, though, it would be pretty straightforward to use it instead for a home automation remote control, especially since it is already set up to use MQTT.

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PC Fan Controller Works On Most Operating Systems

For better or worse, most drivers for PC-related hardware like RGB components and fan controllers are built for Windows and aren’t generally of the highest quality. They’re often proprietary and clunky, and even if they aren’t a total mess they generally won’t work on Linux machines at all, or even on a headless setup regardless of OS. This custom fan controller, on the other hand, eschews the operating system almost entirely in favor of an open-source fan controller board that can be reached over a network instead.

The project’s creator, [Sasa], experimented with fan splitters to solve his problems, but found that these wouldn’t be the ideal solution given the sheer number of fans he wanted in his various computers, especially in his network-attached storage machine. For that one he wanted ten fans, with control over them in custom groups that would behave in certain ways depending on what the computer was doing. His solution uses two EMC2305 five-fan controller chip which communicates over I2C on a custom PCB with a RP2040 at the center. This allows the hardware to communicate with USB to the host computer for updating firmware and controlling over the network. There’s also a 1-wire and I2C bus exposed in case any external sensors need to be integrated into this system as well. To get power for all of those fans, the board uses a SATA connector to get power from the computer’s power supply.

With the PCB built and all of the connections to the host computer made, the custom board is able to control up to 10 fans in any custom configuration without needing a monitor or a driver since it is accessible over the network through an API. It’s also open-source so any changes to the firmware or hardware can easily be made for most air-cooled PC situations. If you’re less concerned about the internal case temperature and more concerned about all the heat your PC is dumping into a living space, you might want to look into venting your PC outside instead.

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Smart Coffee Replaces Espresso Machine Controller With Arduino, Sensors

A common hacker upgrade to an espresso machine is to improve stability and performance with a better temperature controller, but [Schematix]’s Smart Coffee project doesn’t stop there. It entirely replaces the machine’s controller and provides an optional array of improvements for a variety of single-boiler machines (which is most of them).

Smart Coffee isn’t free, it costs 16 NZD (about 10 USD) but there is a free demo version. There is no official support, but there are wiring guides and sources aplenty from which to purchase the various optional parts. It runs on an Arduino MEGA 2560 PRO (or similar microcontroller) and supports a wide array of additional hardware including pressure transducer, water level sensor, flow meter, OLED display, and more.

Modification of one’s espresso machine is a rewarding endeavor, but the Smart Coffee project provides a way for one to get straight to the hacking and function modifying, instead of figuring out the wiring hardware interfacing from scratch.

We’ve seen [Schematix]’s work before with a DIY induction heater which showed off thoughtful design, and it’s clear he takes his coffee at least as seriously. Check out the highly comprehensive overview and installation video for Smart Coffee, embedded just below the page break.

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