Live Jam Kit Helps Electronic Musicians Stay In Sync

Jamming live with synths and drum machines can be fun, but for [Christian], there was a little something missing. He was looking for a way to keep everyone in the group on the beat and rocking out, and decided to build something to help.

The ethos of the build was to put one person ultimately in charge of the mix using Ableton. This stops the volume race, as each musician turns their own volume up and the jam devolves into a noisy mess. Each musician also gets a sync button they can hit if their instrument has drifted out of time. Everyone in the jam also gets their own monitor signal in their headphones, as well as a looper as well.

Individual players in the electronic jam can whip up a cool little loop, and spit it out to the main controller running Ableton using the looper. Then, they can mix up something else in their headphones without disrupting the main mix, before spitting it out as a loop again.

[Christian]’s demo video does a great job of showing how it all works. We particularly like the sync button, which gets rid of the usual frustrations when a sequencer in the jam trips over the tempo signal.

It’s all built with a Teensy, and seems like a great way to organize a jam with a bunch of different synths and drum machines. We’d certainly love to join in the fun.

We’ve seen other fun jam kits too, like this neat networked solution. Video after the break.

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Bolt-On Clog Detection For Your 3D Printer

Desktop 3D printing technology has improved by leaps and bounds over the last few years, but they can still be finicky beasts. Part of this is because the consumer-level machines generally don’t offer much in the way of instrumentation. If the filament runs out or the hotend clogs up and stops extruding, the vast majority of printers will keep humming along with nothing to show for it.

Looking to prevent the heartache of a half-finished print, [Elite Worm] has been working on a very clever filament detector that can be retrofitted to your 3D printer with a minimum of fuss. The design, at least in its current form, doesn’t actually interface with the printer beyond latching onto the part cooling fan as a convenient source of DC power. Filament simply passes through it on the way to the extruder, and should it stop moving while the fan is still running (indicating that the machine should be printing), it will sound the alarm.

Inside the handy device is a Digispark ATtiny85 microcontroller, a 128 x 32  I2C OLED display, a buzzer, an LED, and a photoresistor. An ingenious 3D printed mechanism grabs the filament on its way through to the extruder, and uses this movement to alternately block and unblock the path between the LED and photoresistor. If the microcontroller doesn’t see the telltale pulse after a few minutes, it knows that something has gone wrong.

In the video after the break, [Elite Worm] fits the device to his Prusa i3 MK2, but it should work on essentially any 3D printer if you can find a convenient place to mount it. Keep a close eye out during the video for our favorite part of the whole build, using the neck of a latex party balloon to add a little traction to the wheels of the filament sensor. Brilliant.

Incidentally, Prusa tried to tackle jam detection optically on the i3 MK3 but ended up deleting the feature on the subsequent MK3S since the system proved unreliable with some filaments. The official line is that jams are so infrequent with high-quality filament that the printer doesn’t need it, but it does seem like an odd omission when even the cheapest paper printer on the market still beeps at you when things have run afoul.

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