Ferrofluids, as the name implies, are liquids that respond to magnetic fields. They were originally developed for use by NASA as rocket fuel but are available to the general public now for anyone who wants to enjoy their unique properties. For [Dakd Jung], that meant building a special chamber into a Bluetooth speaker that causes the ferrofluid inside to dance along with the rhythm of the music.
This project isn’t quite as simple as pushing the ferrofluid container against a speaker, though. A special electromagnetic device similar to a speaker was used specifically to manipulate the fluid, using a MSGEQ7 equalizer to provide the device with only a specific range of frequencies best tailored for the fluid’s movement. The project includes two speakers for playing the actual music that point upward, and everything is housed inside of a 3D-printed case. There were some additional hurdles to overcome as well, like learning that the glass needed a special treatment to keep the ferrofluid from sticking to it.
All in all it’s a unique project that not only brings sound to a room but a pleasing physical visualization as well. Being able to listen to music or podcasts on a portable speaker, rather than the tinny internal speakers of a phone or laptop, is the sort of thing you think you can live without until you get used to having higher quality sound easily and in every place you go. And, if there’s a way to improve on that small but crucial foundation with something like a dancing ferrofluid that moves with the music the speaker is playing, then we’re going to embrace that as well.
In the past we’ve mentioned how there are different schools of thought in terms of how to bring a vintage piece of hardware into the 21st century. You can go down the preservationist’s route, carefully grafting the original components with more modern ones, or you can take the nuclear option and blow all that dusty old gear out of the water. [Derek Traxler] clearly decided to go with the latter option on his recent conversion of 1920’s era Claratone tube radio to an Internet radio and podcast player. Not only is there little left of the original device beyond its knobs and wooden case, but he’s even managed to cram a Windows 10 computer into the base for good measure.
The core of the radio is a LattePanda, an extremely powerful Intel single board computer. It’s running Windows, and loads up a list of Internet radio streams and podcasts to play from a USB thumb drive that’s built into an old vacuum tube. The LattePanda uses its built-in Arduino to interface with the radio’s original front panel knobs, which now are used to switch between streams. A particularly neat effect is the static and cross-talk that’s artificially added when switching “stations”, making it sound like you’re really dialing in a station rather than just selecting between digital files.
On the audio side, the LattePanda is connected to a SX400 amplifier, which in turn drives the external speakers. While [Derek] mentions it isn’t quite perfected, a MSGEQ7 graphic equalizer chip is used to control LEDs mounted inside the original radio’s vacuum tubes. In the video after the break, you can see the tubes flashing madly along with the music, giving an interactive effect to the final product. Unfortunately it seems you can only see the tubes when the radio has its “hood” up, though.
If this egregious lack of historical preservation has brought a tear to your eye, never fear. We’ve covered some proper restoration work on vintage audio gear which may level you out.
Continue reading “1920’s Claratone Radio Runs Windows 10” →
There are only so many blinking light patterns you can create with a microcontroller before you get bored. [Garrett] apparently felt that way and decided to build a music-driven LED display on some LED shades. The system has three main elements: a microphone, a preamp, and a 7-band spectrum analyzer chip. You can see the results in the video below.
Continue reading “Musical Shades” →
During a Product Design class, [Oscar de la Hera] designed and built an LED light box that responds to music — and looks good doing it!
He carefully constructed the box out of Oak with a one-way mirror top, enclosing a 6 x 6 matrix array of NeoPixels. Behind the panel is an Arduino Uno which uses an MSGEQ7 chip and two audio jacks to take in an audio signal and create a light show. When the lights are off, it looks like a fancy little mirror — but when you turn on the music it becomes alive.
If you’re curious on how it was made, or if you want to make your own, there’s a full tutorial on how to make your own over at Instructables — and don’t forget to take a look at it in action after the break!
Continue reading “DJ Light Box Grooves To The Beat” →
73 years ago WWII was in full swing, the world’s first computer had not yet crunched atomic bomb physics and department store cash registers had to add up your purchases mechanically. Back then, each pull caused the device to whirl and kerchunk like a slot machine. [David] & [Scott] kidnapped one of those clunkers and forced it to sing a new tune. Thus the Registroid was born, a self-described “mutant vintage cash register that is a playable, interactive electro-house looping machine.” Why did no one else think of this yet?
Inside, the adding gears and tumbling counters were gutted to make room for the electronics, amp and speaker. Keys were converted to Arduino inputs that then feed to MAX/MSP which serves as a basic midi controller. On top, five “antennae” lamps with LEDs serve as a color organ where they pulse with the audio as split up by an MSGEQ7 equalizer chip. Each row of latching keys corresponds to a different instrument: drum beats, baselines, synths, and one-shots.
We have seen similar things done to a Game Boy and typewriter before, but a cash machine is new to us. Perhaps someday someone will flip the trend and type their twitter messages from an antique harpsichord.
The Registroid appears quite popular when on display at local events, including some wonder when a secret code opens the cash drawer.
Continue reading “Meet Registroid – Mutant Cash Register Music Sequencer” →
[Trent] is one of those guys who can make things happen. A friend of his gifted him a mannequin derriere simply because he knew [Trent] would do something fun with it. “Something fun” turned out to be sound reactive LED butt. At first blush, this sounds like just another light organ. This butt has a few tricks up its …. sleeve which warrant a closer look. The light comes from some off the shelf 5050 style RGB LED strip. The controller is [Trent’s] own design. He started with the ever popular MSGEQ7 7 Band Graphic Equalizer Display Filter, a chip we’ve seen before. The MSGEQ7 performs all the band filtering and outputs 7 analog levels corresponding to the amplitude of the input signal in that band. The outputs are fed into an ATTiny84, which drives the RGB strip through transistors.
The ATTiny84 isn’t just running a PWM loop. At startup, it takes 10 samples from each frequency band. The 10 samples are then averaged, and used to create a noise filter. The noise filter helps to remove any ambient sound or distortions created by the microphone. Each band is then averaged and peak detected. The difference between the peak and the noise is the dynamic range for that band. The ATTiny84 remaps each analog sample to be an 8 bit value fitting within that dynamic range. The last step is to translate the remapped signal values through a gamma lookup table. The gamma table was created to make the bright and dark colors stand out even more. [Trent] says the net result is that snare and kick drum sounds really pop compared to the rest of the music.
Without making this lamp the butt of too many jokes, we’d like to say we love what [Trent] has done. It’s definitely the last word in sound reactive lamps. Click through to see [Trent’s] PCB, and the Butt Lamp in action.
Continue reading “The Butt Lamp: Light From Where The Sun Don’t Shine” →
Meet soundball, a hobby electronics project when replaces a disco ball with one made of LEDs (translated) going every which way. This image shows the device before being injected into an enclosure. The final offering is a white project box with a hole in the top through which the diffuser covered blinky ball is supported.
The main board hosts a collection of the usual suspects: an ATmega328, an MSGEQ7 equalizer, a couple of TLC5940 LED drivers, and a footprint for a Bluetooth Shield. The equalizer chip provides [Cornelius] the audio analysis used to generate light patterns that go along with the music. But he can still control the lights manually with a button on the case or by connecting to it via Bluetooth.
Swap out the LED drivers for some solid state relays and you can blink your Christmas lights to the music.
Continue reading “Soundball Bumps To Your Tunes” →