DIY Teensy Looper Multiplies Music

If you’re into electronic music, chances are good that you like to roll your own. While step one is usually to build something, anything that makes sound, a natural step two is to build a looping device to extend and play with those sounds.

[Cutlasses] has finished version one of his Teensy-based Eurorack-style looper. He plugs in a thing, records some tunes, and the resulting loop gets divvied up into eight equal pieces. He can cut the loop together live using the eight buttons to jump around between sections. It supports unlimited overdubs, although too many will cause clipping. But hey, that just means free derivative sounds.

The looper records its audio to an SD card. Since this is typically a slow endeavor, [Cutlasses] used two circular buffers. One reads audio, and the other writes it. This took a lot of trial and error, which he may have to repeat with future SD cards.

[Cutlasses]’ plans for future versions include a separate audio CODEC for better sound, CV control, and a pedal option for hands-free operation. We’d love to hear some sweet Theremin loopage, wouldn’t you? Jog past the break to watch [Cutlasses] demo his looper with a kalimba and a DIY noise box that uses a string bow to make metal tines sing.

Feeling out of the music-making loop? There are (slightly) easier ways. Check out this LEGO looper or this multiplayer Pi-ano.

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Gecho Pocket Synth Looper

[Mario] wrote us with his synthesizer project that’s currently up on Kickstarter. It looks like a good amount of fun to play with, as you can see in the video on the Kickstarter page. But it’s also built to be easily hackable.

On the hardware front, it’s a tiny four-layer board that’s crammed with parts. At the core is an STM32F4 microcontroller and a DAC. Indeed, the build was inspired by other folks’ work on the STM32F4 Discovery dev kit that has been used to make some pretty interesting synthesizer devices. [Mario]’s version adds two stereo headphone outputs, two microphone inputs, two IR reflective distance sensors used as control inputs, some buttons, and a ton of LEDs. And then it makes good use of all of them.

The firmware isn’t open source yet (poke! poke!) but it looks like it’s going to be. On his blog, [Mario] works through an example of adding a drum machine into the existing firmware, so it looks like it’ll be hackable.

Squeezing a lot of DSP functionality out of a single microcontroller is a feat. On a similar chip from a different manufacturer, [Paul Stoffregen]’s Teensy Audio Library could also be made to do a lot of the same things. But the real beauty of the Gecho project is that it has some interesting hardware features already built in and ready to go. It wouldn’t be a bad launching pad for your own musical or audio explorations.

USB Ableton Foot Controller Reuses Old Keyboard

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No, Hackaday hasn’t started advertising shoes, this is [Matlek’s] foot controller for Ableton Live.

Matlek plays guitar and needed an easy way to control Ableton Live, which he uses as a looper. Ableton normally expects keyboard input, so that’s exactly what he gave it.

An old dell keyboard was gutted down to its controller board. This exposes  the leads the keyboard uses to scan the key matrix.  From there it is simply trial and error connecting different pins together and seeing which keys are printed on the PC screen (A text editor works well for this). Only 8 characters are needed to control the looper, so [Matlek] chose digits 1-8.

Since some of the wires are going to be sharing pins, a small piece of stripboard comes in handy between the buttons and the keyboard controller. [Maltek] used basic momentary push buttons for his mini key matrix, though we think that box looks sturdy enough to support some larger stomp box style buttons.

Everything comes together inside a sturdy shoebox, which also serves to insulate the exposed keyboard PCB from shorting out.

The only major downside to the project is that the box is light enough that it slides easily on the floor when recording or triggering loops. Adding some heavy items (or dare we say, some shoes) would solve this problem. Self adhesive rubber feet on the bottom of the box would help too.

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Making The Case For Cool Project Enclosures

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Quite often, we see project boxes that seem to be constructed more as an afterthought than anything else. That’s not to say there is anything wrong with stuffing your latest creation into a nondescript black box, or even cardboard if it happens to fit your needs. Sometimes however, an enclosure embodies the spirit of a project, making it all that much cooler.

[Adam] recently picked up a copy of Make magazine and decided to build their “Luna Mod”, a sound effects generator and looper based on a PICAXE-08M. Aside from the micro controller the Luna Mod includes a couple of pots, a switch, and a few LEDs – nothing incredibly striking. Once he had everything assembled on a strip of protoboard, he started working on his enclosure.

The enclosure is made from an old record, which after some trial and error, [Adam] got just right. The record was heated and cut, then bent into shape. While it’s not necessarily a hack, we think it looks pretty slick. It really fits the theme of the Luna Mod and is far more attractive than a plain plastic box.

Stick around to see his sound generator in action.

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