What does portability in a keyboard mean to you? For Hackaday’s own [Brian McEvoy], the image evokes that quintessential 80s instrument, the keytar.
But those left-hand keys aren’t just for show — they’re macro keys. It runs on an Adafruit Feather 32u4 Bluefruit, so [Brian] can forego the cord and rock out all over the room.
I love the construction of this keyboard, which you can plainly see from the side. It’s made up of extruded aluminum bars and 2 mm plywood, which is stacked up in layers and separated with little wooden donuts acting as spacers. Unfortunately, [Brian] accidentally made wiring much harder by putting the key switches and the microcontroller on different planes.
Although you could theoretically use any key switches for this build, [Brian] chose my personal and polarizing favorite, browns. If you’re going to use a travel keyboard, you’re probably going to be around people, so blues are probably not the best choice. With browns, you kind of have yourself a middle ground, best-of-both-worlds thing going on. The keycaps are among the best parts of this build, and it seems [Brian] chose them because the legends are on the sides, which makes it much easier to type on while wearing it. Kismet!
Continue reading “Keebin’ With Kristina: The One With The QWERTY Drum Set”
It’s hard to imagine 80s Synth-pop without the keytar, and yet this majestic Centaur of a musical instrument rarely gets much love, and their players are often the target of ridicule. It almost seems as if being hung around the neck should be a privilege solely reserved for stringed instruments. Well, [midierror] has at least that part somewhat right then, with the Full On MIDI Leg that is guaranteed to make every keytarist look like a prestigious cellist in comparison.
What looks like the 1987 movie Mannequin taking a dark, Mengelesque turn, is as awesome as it is bizarre, thanks to building the concept of the LE STRUM into, well, a leg. LE STRUM itself is an open source MIDI instrument built by [Jason Hotchkiss], who describes it as “a cross between a Stylophone and an Omnichord”. It consists of a set of buttons to select different combinations of chords, that can than be strummed by scratching an attached stylus over an array of contact pads. However, [midierror], who also distributes a pre-assembled version of the LE STRUM, uses strings instead of contact pads, and a pick for the actual strumming, turning this into a close-enough string instrument.
The only thing missing now is a functioning knee joint, and maybe some inspiration from this MIDI-controlled concertina, and we’d be ready to revolutionize the accordion world with the, uhm, kneetar? And since it’s built around a PIC16, this thigh-slapper won’t even cost you an ARM, just the leg — but enough already with these toe-curling puns.
Continue reading “Rocking Out On A Limb With LE STRUM”
All the best retro-1980s chiptune acts should possess a keytar. It’s the Law, or something. [Theremin Hero] has reminded us of this with a new video we’ve shown below featuring an instrument he had a part in creating alongside [Sam Wray] and [Siddharth Vadgama] a few years ago. The Blade is a 3D-printed keytar featuring two Guitar Hero necks and an integrated pair of Game Boys to provide the sound from the authentic silicon.
To describe it in those terms though is to miss a wealth of other components and featured. The keyboard itself is from a Rock Band keytar which feeds MIDI to a Raspberry Pi running PD Extended that handles all the button press mappings. An Arduino Mega performs the same task for the two Guitar Hero necks. Midi from the various sources is processed by an Arduino Boy which then feeds the Game Boys that make the sounds. Oh – and there’s a Leap Motion 3D motion controller in the mix as well, though that doesn’t seem to be used directly in the chiptune synth functionality.
We’ve had a few keytars here over the years, but this one makes us think of the Commodore 64 instrument created by [Jeri Ellsworth].
Continue reading “It’s (Almost) Two Keytars In One!”
Catch up on the past week of hacks with Hackaday Editors Elliot Williams and Mike Szczys. “AI on the Edge” is the buzzword of choice lately, with hardware offerings from BeagleBone and Google to satiate your thirst. We take on spotty data from Tesla, driving around on four bouncy-houses, reverse engineering a keytar, unearthing a gem of a dinosaur computer, and MIPI DSI display hacking. There are tips for getting better at commenting code, and making your computer do your algebra homework.
Links for all discussed on the show are found below. As always, join in the comments as we’ll be watching those as we work on next week’s episode!
Take a look at the links below if you want to follow along, and as always, tell us what you think about this episode in the comments!
Direct download (60 MB or so.)
Continue reading “Hackaday Podcast 009: On The Edge Of AI, Comment Your Code, Big Big Wheels, And Makers Of Munich”
We can’t think of where you’d buy a new, cheap, MIDI keytar that’s just a keyboard and a handle with some pitch and mod wheels or ribbon controllers. This is a format that died in the 90s or thereabouts. Yes, the Rock Band controller exists, but my point stands. In fact, the closest you can get to a cheap, simple MIDI keytar is the Alesis Vortex Wireless 2 Keytar, but the buttons on the handle don’t make any sense. [marcan] of Wii and Kinect hacking fame took note. (YouTube, embedded below.)
Reverse engineering is a research project, and all research projects begin with looking at the docs. When it comes to consumer electronics, the best resource is the documents a company is required to submit to the FCC (shout out to FCC.io), which gave [marcan] the user manual, and photos of the guts of the keytar. The ‘system update download’ files are living on the Alesis servers, and that’s really all you need to reverse engineer a keytar.
The first step is extracting the actual device firmware from whatever software package appears on the desktop when you download the software update. This is a simple job for 7zip, and after looking at a binary dump of the firmware, [marcan] discovered this was for an STM chip. With the datasheet of the chip, [marcan] got the entry point for the firmware, some values, and the real hardware hacking began. All of this was done with IDA.
This is a five-hour hacking session of cross-referencing the MIDI spec and a microcontroller built thirty years after this spec was developed. It’s an amazing bit of work just to find the bit of code than handled the buttons on the keytar grip, and it gets even better when the patched firmware is uploaded. If you want to ‘learn hacking’, as so many submitters on our tip line want to do, this is what you need to watch. Thanks [hmn] for the tip.
Continue reading “Live Hacking And A MIDI Keytar”
On a dreary night in November, [Smecher] collected the instruments of electronic life around him to infuse a musical spark into FrankenKorg — a resurrected keytar.
This hack is a “re-braining” of a RK-100 Korg Keytar, replacing the original circuits with an ATMega32 — the original functionality and appearance are preserved allowing any restored version of the original boards to be seamlessly re-integrated. In light of that, the original boards were ditched after a brief investigation, and a haphazard building process on a protoboard began. Three LS138 3-8 demuxers that accompany the ATMega handle scanning the keys since there weren’t enough pins on the ATMega alone for all the Korg’s features. Check out [Smecher]’s breakdown of his process in the video after the break!
Continue reading “FrankenKorg: The Modern Remote Keyboard”
We’ve seen our share of stepper motors making music, but [Tanner Tech’s] key-tar takes it to a whole new level. Incorporating an acoustic drum to accentuate the stepper motor sounds and a preamp to feed a guitar amplifier, the key-tar is a fully playable instrument.
Moving the stepper via an Arduino at different speeds creates different notes. The user interface is an old PC keyboard. Apparently, [Tanner] recycled most of the parts in his model. The stepper came from an old printer and the keyboard was a dumpster rescue.
Continue reading “Key-tar Lets You Jam At The Hackerspace”