We’re partial to musical instrument hacks around here, mainly because we find instruments to be fascinating machines. Few are more complex than the piano, and, as it turns out, few are quite so hackable. Still, we have to admit that this ragtime piano hack took us by surprise.
We always thought that the rich variety of tones that can be coaxed from a piano, from the tinny sound of an Old West saloon piano to the rich tones of a concert grand, were due mainly to the construction of the instrument and the way it’s played. Not so, apparently, as [Measured Workshop] demonstrated by installing a “mandolin rail” in a small upright piano. The instrument had seen better days, so step one was disassembly and cleaning. A wooden rail spanning the entire width of the string board was added, with a curtain of fabric draping down to the level of the hammers. The curtain was cut into a fringe in the same spacing as the hammers – marking the hammer locations with cornstarch was a nice trick – and metal clips were crimped to each fringe. The completed mandolin rail can be raised and lowered using a new foot pedal, completely changing the tone as the hammers hit the strings with the metal clips rather than their soft felt heads. It makes the piano sound a little like a harpsichord, or the aforementioned saloon instrument, and at the touch of a foot, it’s back to its original tone.
Most of the piano hacks we offer tend toward the electronic variety, so it’s nice to see a purely mechanical piano hack for a change. And if the hacked piano doesn’t work out as an instrument, you can always turn it into a workbench.
Continue reading “Simple Hack Completely Changes The Sound Of This Piano”
Even on the go, there is no substitute for a physical keyboard with buttons that move and click. Sure, you could solder a bunch of tactile switches to some perfboard, but how about going all out and making something robust as [Anthony DiGirolamo] did for his Teensy Thumboard. Everything is insertion-mount so it is an approachable project for anyone who knows the dangerous end of a soldering iron, and that also makes it easy to hack on.
Each pin of the Teensy has an adjacent empty hole tied to it for easy access, and the serial data pins are exposed at the top of the board. All the holes use standard 0.1″ (2.54mm) spacing. The I/O points used by the keyboard are labeled, and the rest of them can use the space under the controller where proto-board style holes add some extra space for an IMU or whatever sensors suit your slant.
Most impressive is the shell, which is freely available on Thingiverse, where you can also find a bill of materials with links to everything you will need in case you don’t have drawers full of those tactile switches.
If this looks familiar, you have probably seen the PocketCHIP, and it is no secret that this project is an homage to that versatile pocket computer. We appreciate this kind of love for PocketCHIP, especially since they are now a limited commodity.
If you like to read with gentle music playing, do yourself a favor and start the video while you’re reading about [Hugo Swift]’s MIDISWAY. The song is Promises, also by [SWIFT], which has piano phrases modulated during the actual playing, not in post-production.
The MIDISWAY is a stage-worthy looking box to sit atop your keys and pulse a happy little LED. The pulsing corresponds to the amount of pitch bending being sent to your instrument over a MIDI DIN connector. This modulation is generated by an Arduino and meant to recreate the effect of analog recording devices like an off-center vinyl or a tape that wasn’t tracking perfectly.
While recording fidelity keeps inching closer to perfect recreation, it takes an engineer like [Hugo Swift] to decide that a step backward is worth a few days of hacking. Now that you know what the MIDISWAY is supposed to do, listen closely at 2:24 in the video when the piano starts. The effect is subtle but hard to miss when you know what to listen for.
MIDI projects abound at Hackaday like this MIDI → USB converter for getting MIDI out of your keyboard once you’ve modulated it with a MIDISWAY. Maybe you are more interested in a MIDI fighter for controlling your DAW. MIDI is a robust and time-tested protocol which started in the early 1980s and will be around for many more years.
Continue reading “MIDISWAY Promises to Step Up Your Live Show”
Secret keys are quite literally the key to security in software development. If a malicious actor gains access to the keys securing your data, you’re toast. The problem is, to use keys, you’ve got to write them down somewhere – oftentimes in the source code itself. TruffleHog has come along to sniff out those secret keys in your Github repository.
It’s an ingenious trick — a Python script goes through the commit history of a repository, looking at every string of text greater than 20 characters, and analyzing its Shannon entropy. This is a mathematical way of determining if it looks like a relatively random string of numbers and letters. If it has high entropy, it’s probably a key of some sort.
Sharing source code is always a double-edged sword for security. Any flaws are out for all to see, and there are both those who will exploit the flaws and those who will help fix them. It’s a matter of opinion if the benefits outweigh the gains, but it’s hard to argue with the labor benefits of getting more eyes on the code to hunt for bugs. It’s our guess though, that a lot of readers have accidentally committed secret keys in a git repository and had to revert before pushing. This tool can crawl any publicly posted git repo, but might be just as useful in security audits of your own codebase to ensure accidentally viewable keys are invalidated and replaced.
For a real world example of stolen secret keys, read up on this HDMI breakout that sniffs HDCP keys.
This isn’t a hack that shows you how to start a car without the keys. It’s a way to ditch the bulky keyring for a set of fold-out keys. [Colonel Crunch] removed the blades from the pocket knife and replaced them with the two keys for his car (one is ignition and door locks, the other opens the trunk). He didn’t take pictures of the process, but he did link to this unrelated guide on how it’s done.
About one minute into the video after the break we see each step in the build process. First the plastic trim is removed from either side of the knife. The blades are basically riveted on; there’s a pin which holds them in and either side of it has been pressed to that it can no longer move through the holes in the frame. To get around this one side is ground off with a rotary tool, and the pin is then tapped out with a hammer. The removed blade/scissors/tool is used as a template to cut the body of the key down to size and shape. The pin is then hammered back into place before putting the plastic trim back on.
Continue reading “Swiss Army Keys”
There’s two really useful parts to this hack which involves sniffing the HDMI protocol’s HDCP security keys. The first is just getting at the signals without disrupting communications between two HDCP capable devices. To do so [Adam Laurie] started by building an HDMI breakout cable that also serves as a pass-through. The board seen above is known as an HDMI screw terminal board. The image shows one cable connecting to itself during the fabrication process. What he did was cut one end off of an HDMI cable, then used a continuity tester to figure out which screw terminal connects with which bare wire. After all the wires are accounted for the end with the plug goes to his TV, with a second cable connecting between the board’s socket and his DVD player.
The rest of his post is dedicated to sniffing the security keys. His weapon of choice on this adventure turns out to be a Bus Pirate but it runs a little slow to capture all of the data. He switches to a tool of his own design, which runs on a 60MHz PIC32 demo board. With it he’s able to get the keys which make decrypting the protected data possible.
[doragasu]’s wife is always misplacing her keys. To solve this problem, [doragasu] created a small Bluetooth-enabled key fob that is able to remotely sound an alarm when commanded to by a cell phone.
The case and LiPo battery of [doragasu]’s project comes from a small photo frame key fob. The LCD display and PCB of the photo frame were tossed aside for a future project, and the design of the circuit started. The Bluetooth buzzer key fob is based around an MSP430 microcontroller because of their extremely low power requirements.
On the software side of things, [doragasu] built a J2ME app to connect to the key fob and turn the buzzer on. His app is portable to any Android phone, and versions can be ported to Windows, OS X and iOS devices.
How does it work? Well, [doragasu]’s wife sometimes forgets to charge her key fob, rendering the whole project useless. There are ideas for updating the device to a Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy device, but no actionable plans. Still, very good work. You can check out [doragasu]’s walkthrough and demo video after the break.
Continue reading “Finding your keys with Bluetooth”