Thomas The Terrifying Karaoke Robot

The junk bin can be a great source of inspiration, unless you’re too familiar with the contents to be imaginative with them. But thrift stores are another matter, like giant junk bins that are constantly replenished by underappreciated elves. You never know what kinds of goodies they will pile on the shelves, so it’s easy to become a fixture and visit them once or thrice a week.

[Hunter Irving] haunts a few choice thrift stores in his neighborhood, and a few months ago he found a knockoff Thomas the Tank Engine with an articulated face. It uses a simple mechanism to produce an impressive amount of movement, especially for a cheap knockoff toy. Both of its eyes slide sideways and its mouth opens, resulting in a very animated (and terrifying) range of expressions. Sensing an opportunity to turn his animatronic robot dreams into karaoke-singing nightmare fuel for the rest of us, he forked over a few bucks and took it home.

As luck would have it, a 9g micro servo fit perfectly in the back of the frightening little face. [Hunter] designed an axle to transfer motion to the face mechanism, but it broke almost immediately. We applaud his Plan B, though, which consists of a mounting block for the servo, and a cable tie armature connected with screws. Once that was sorted, [Hunter] designed a bulbous body for it in Blender.

This terrifying train-faced toy uses an Arduino Leonardo to read MIDI note-on and -off messages, and opens his mouth when appropriate to sing hit favorites in a smooth, speech-synthesized contralto. Pour yourself a strong beverage and enjoy the build/demo video after the break.

Interested in making your own? [Hunter] has all the files up on his Patreon page. For just $1, you can access the code, synth files, and STL files. While you’re there, you can also get the scoop on his Nintendo LABO waveform cards.

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Need A Tiny CRT? Karaoke Might Just Help

[Brett] is working on a video installation, and for the past few months, has been trying to get his hands on tiny CRTs any way he can. After initially coming up short, he happened across a karaoke machine from 2005, and got down to work.

Karaoke machines of this vintage are typically fairly low-rent affairs, built cheaply on simple PCBs. [Brett] found that the unit in question was easy to disassemble, having various modules on separate PCBs joined together with ribbon cables and headers. However, such machines rarely have video inputs, as they’re really only designed to display low-res graphics from CD-G format discs.

While investigating the machine, initial research online proved fruitless. In the end, a close look at the board revealed just what [Brett] was looking for – a pin labeled video in! After throwing in a Raspberry Pi Zero and soldering up the composite output to the karaoke machine’s input pin, the screen sprung to life first time! This initial success was followed by installing a Raspberry Pi 3 for more grunt, combined with a Screenly install – and a TRS adapter the likes of which we’ve never seen before. This allows video to be easily pushed to the device remotely over WiFi. [Brett] promises us there is more to come.

Karaoke is a sparse topic in the Hackaday archives, but we’ve seen a couple builds, like this vocal processor. If you’ve got the hacks, though? You know where to send ’em.

Turning an iPhone into a Karaoke machine

setup

Instead of booking an MC for your next karaoke party, take a look at [Paulo]’s build that turns any iPhone into a karaoke machine.

There are thousands of YouTube videos out there of songs with lyrics – a much more advanced version of the mainstay of any karaoke get together, suitcase full of CDs and a video monitor. The only problem in turning these YouTube videos into a karaoke party is putting a drunken slob into the mix. [Paulo] recently solved this problem with a karaoke mixer that adds a microphone input to any analog audio feed.

But this is only halfway to a karaoke machine. To finish the build, [Paulo] created an amplifier (with a fabulous Manhattan-style PCB) for an iPhone’s audio output. The video output can be sent directly to a monitor, allowing for the full karaoke experience.

Since [Paulo]’s karaoke mixer uses an XLR jack for the mic, it’s still possible to make karaoke worse by adding vocal and other miscellaneous effects.

Making karaoke worse

kaoss belt

Karaoke just isn’t fair. Not only do you have people who can’t sing choosing to belt out extremely difficult to sing songs, but the variety of songs generally isn’t that great. In an effort to make the karaoke situation at the pubs he frequents better – or worse, depending on how you look at it – [cosmic blooper] is now bringing a vocal effects processor to karaoke. Yes, now he’s got pitch shifting that takes him into [Bieber] territory, and auto tune to emulate the [T-Pain] and the Black Eyed Peas.

To bring the world of synths and effects to a karaoke party, [cosmic blooper] took a battery-powered Kaoss Pad and attached it to his belt with the help of some sheet metal. An RCA to XLR adapter connects the Kaoss Pad to the karaoke microphone, while a mic of questionable quality takes [blooper]’s voice to be transmuted into a horrifying display of effects and pitch shifters.

There’s no video of [cosmic blooper]’s karaoke machine in action, but he tells us he’ll be getting one up soon.

Fun with Barbie karaoke machines


[Peter Edwards] at Casper Electronics built a modular synth and integrated it with the Barbie karaoke machines we saw at Notacon last April. The complete unit consists of 25 modules which are wired together using banana cables. He’s using this homebrew step sequencer to control the bent karaoke machines which then feed into the rest of the synthesizer. If you’d like to bend your own barbie karaoke machine, [Peter] was kind enough to post schematics and instructions for his bends.