For those who are not into prog rock in the 70s or old radio shows from the 40s, the Theremin may be an unfamiliar musical instrument. As a purely electronic device, it’s well outside the realm of conventional musical instruments. Two radio antennas detect the position of the musician’s hands to make a unique sound traditionally associated with eeriness or science fiction.
Normally a set of filters and amplifiers are used to build this instrument but this build instead replaces almost everything with a Raspberry Pi Zero 2, and instead of radio antennas to detect the position of the musician’s hands a set of two HC-SR04 distance sensors are used instead. With the processing power available from the Pi, the modernized instrument is able to output MIDI as well which makes this instrument easily able to interface with programs like GarageBand or any other MIDI-capable software.
The project build is split into two videos, the second of which is linked below. The project code is also available on the project’s GitHub page, so anyone with the Pi and other equipment available can easily start experimenting with this esoteric and often overlooked musical instrument. It’s been around for over 100 years now, and its offshoots (including this build) are as varied as the sounds they can produce.
Continue reading “Raspberry Pi Creates Melody”
Some of the coolest sounds come from wild instruments like orchestra strings, fretless basses, and theremins — instruments that aren’t tied down by the constraints of frets and other kinds of note boundaries. [XenonJohn]’s air harp is definitely among this class of music makers, all of which require a certain level of manual finesse to play well.
Although inspired by Jean-Michel Jarre’s laser harp, there are no lasers here. This is a MIDI aetherharp, aka an air harp, and it is played by interrupting the signals from a set of eight infrared distance sensors. These sensors can be played at three different heights for a total of 24 notes, plus there’s a little joystick for doing pitch bends.
Inside the wooden enclosure of this aetherharp is a Teensy 3.5 and eight infrared distance sensors with particularly long ranges. On top is a layer of red acrylic that doesn’t affect the playability, except in bright sunlight. Although you could use most any MIDI software to produce the actual sounds, [XenonJohn] chose VMPK (Virtual MIDI Piano Keyboard). Be sure to check it out in action after the break.
Not dangerous enough for you? Here’s a laser harp that involves a Tesla coil.
Continue reading “Teensy MIDI Air Harp Sounds Huge”
The white cane (and its many variants) is an everyday carry for many visually impaired people. This low-tech tool allows those afflicted by visual impairment to safely navigate the world around them, and has been ubiquitous in many parts of the world for decades. [Madaeon] has been hard at work going one step further in prototyping an open-source assistive wearable that could help in situations where a cane is not practical, or useful.
The T.O.F Wristband V2 alerts its wearer to nearby obstacles through vibrations, and is able to detect objects up to four meters away. As the wearer veers closer and closer to an obstacle, the vibration increases in frequency. A time-of-flight distance sensor is controlled by a Feather, and the whole system is powered by a small lithium-polymer battery. The prototype consists of just four components plus a 3D printed case and bracelet, which inevitably keeps down costs and complexity.
Version two of this project picks up where version one left off. In that project, [Madaeon] mentioned the possibility of squeezing this project down to the size of a ring. Perhaps with better battery technology, a ring-sized sensor might just be possible one day.
This isn’t the first wearable that has set out to assist the visually impaired. Back in 2019 we covered a laser-augmented glove that attempts something very similar.
By some estimates, nearly one billion people worldwide have some degree of visual impairment. Assistive devices like the T.O.F Wristband V2, and others like it, offer these people the potential for greater independence and an improved standard of living.
Continue reading “A Digital White Cane For The Visually Impaired”
Sure, [Ty Palowski] could have just hung a tennis ball from the ceiling, but that would mean getting on a ladder, testing the studfinder on himself before locating a ceiling joist, and so on. Bo-ring. Now that he finally has a garage, he’s not going to fill it with junk, no! He’s going to park a big ol’ Jeep in it. Backwards.
The previous owner was kind enough to leave a workbench in the rear of the garage, which [Ty] has already made his own. To make sure that he never hits the workbench while backing into the garage, [Ty] made an adorable stoplight to help gauge the distance to it. Green mean’s he’s good, yellow means he should be braking, and red of course means stop in the name of power tools.
Inside the light is an Arduino Nano, which reads from the ultrasonic sensor mounted underneath the enclosure and lights up the appropriate LED depending on the car’s distance. All [Ty] has to do is set the distance that makes the red light come on, which he can do with the rotary encoder on the side and confirm on the OLED. The distance for yellow and green are automatically set from red — the yellow range begins 24″ past red, and green is another 48″ past yellow. Floor it past the break to watch the build video.
The humble North American traffic signal is widely recognized, so it’s a good approach for all kinds of applications. Teach your children well: start them young with a visual indicator of when it’s okay to get out of bed in the morning.
Continue reading “Parking Assistant Helps Back Up The Car Without Going Too Far”
Some of us are oblivious to how often we touch our faces. The current finding is we reach for our eyes, nose, or mouth every three to four minutes. Twenty times per hour is an awful lot of poking, picking, itching, and prodding when we’re supposed to keep our hands away from glands that can transmit and receive disease. To curb this habit and enter the 2020 Hackaday Prize, [Lloyd lobo] built a proof-of-concept device that sounds the alarm when you reach for your face.
We see an Arduino Uno connected to the classic HC-SR04 ultrasonic distance sensor, an LED, and we have to assume a USB battery pack. [Lloyd] recommends the smaller Nano, we might reach for the postage-stamp models and swap the ultrasonic module out for the much smaller laser time of flight sensor. At its soul, this is an intruder alarm. Instead of keeping siblings out of your room, you will be keeping your hands out of the area below the bill of the hat where the sensor is mounted. If you regularly lift a coffee cup to your lips, it might chastise you, and if you chew sunflower seeds, you might establish a tempo. *crunch* *chip* *beep* *crunch* *chip* *beep*
We have reviewed technology to improve our habits like a bracelet that keeps a tally, and maybe there is a book that will help shirk some suboptimal behaviors.
Continue reading “Facing The Coronavirus”
[JRodrigo]’s xLIDAR project is one of those ideas that seemed so attractively workable that it went directly to a PCB prototype without doing much stopping along the way. The concept was to mount a trio of outward-facing VL53L0X distance sensors to a small PCB disk, and then turn that disk with a motor and belt while taking readings. As the sensors turn, their distance readings can be used to paint a picture of the immediate surroundings (at least within about 1 meter, which is the maximum range of the VL53L0X.)
The hardware is made to be accessible and has a strong element of “what you see is what you get.” The distance sensors are on small breakout boards, and the board turns the sensor disk via a DC motor and 3D printed belt drive. Even the method of encoding the disk’s movement and zero position has the same WYSIWYG straightforwardness: a spring contact and an interrupted bare copper trace on the bottom of the sensor disk acts as a physical switch. In fact, exposed copper traces in concentric circular patterns and spring pins taken from an SD card socket are what provide power and communications as the disk turns.
The prototype looks good and sounds like it should work, but how well does it hold up? We’ll find out once [JRodrigo] does some testing. Until then, the board designs are available on the project’s GitHub repository if anyone wants to take a shot at their own approach without starting from scratch.
[Blecky]’s entry to the Hackaday Prize is MappyDot, a tiny board less than a square inch in size that holds a VL53L0X time-of-flight distance sensor and can measure distances of up to 2 meters.
MappyDot is more than just a breakout board; the ATMega328PB microcontroller on each PCB provides filtering, an easy to use I2C interface, and automatically handles up to 112 boards connected in a bus. The idea is that one or a few MappyDots can be used by themselves, but managing a large number is just as easy. By dotting a device with multiple MappyDots pointing in different directions, a device could combine the readings to gain a LiDAR-like understanding of its physical environment. Its big numbers of MappyDots [Blecky] is going for, too: he just received a few panels of bare PCBs that he’ll soon be laboriously populating. The good news is, there aren’t that many components on each board.
It’s great to see open sourced projects and tools in which it is clear some thought has gone into making them flexible and easy to use. This means they are easier to incorporate into other work and helps make them a great contestant for the Hackaday Prize.