Learning to play a musical instrument takes a major time commitment. If you happened to be stuck inside your home at any point in the last two years, though, you may have had the opportunity that [Dmitriy] had to pick up a guitar and learn to play. Rather than stick with a traditional guitar, though, [Dmitriy] opted to build his own digital guitar which is packed with all kinds of features you won’t find in any Fender or Gibson.
The physical body of this unique instrument is entirely designed by [Dmitriy] out of 3D printed parts, and uses capacitive touch sensors for each of the notes on what would have been the guitar’s fretboard. The strings are also replaced with a set of six switches that can be strummed like a regular guitar, and are used to register when to play a note. After a few prototypes, everything was wired onto a custom PCB. The software side of this project is impressive as well; it involved creating custom firmware to register all of the button presses and transmit the information to a MIDI controller so that the guitar can communicate digitally with anything that supports MIDI.
To finish off the project, [Dmitriy] also added a wireless device as well as some other bonus features like an accelerometer, which can be used to augment the sound of the guitar in any way he can think of to program them. It’s one of the most innovative guitars we’ve seen since the prototype Noli smart guitar was unveiled last year, and this one is also on its way from prototype to market right now.
A home-built railway is one of the greatest things you could possibly use to shift loads around your farm. [Tim] and [Sandra] of YouTube channel [Way Out West] have just such a setup, but they needed some switching points to help direct carriages from one set of rails to another. Fabrication ensued!
The railway relies on very simple rails made with flat bar and angle iron, allowing the railway to be built without a lot of heavy blacksmithing work. For a light-duty home railway, these are more than strong enough to do the job.
As for the points, a simple V-shaped frog-and-blade design was used. The frog is the V-shaped section where the rails diverge into two directions, sitting in the center of the Y, while the blade is the part that moves to either side to guide the carriages in one way or t’other.
The blade consists of a 2.2 meter long piece of angle iron with a pin welded on, allowing it to pivot. Two pieces of flat bar were then welded together with a pin to make the frog. Two metal bushes were then forced into a wooden sleeper, allowing the blade to pivot as needed. The rails themselves are slightly kinked as needed and everything tacked down into sleepers with bolts and pipe pegs.
Runescape is pushing nearly 21 years old, and while that’s quite a long time for a game to stay active with an engaged userbase, it’s also a long time for people to modify the game in all kinds of colorful ways. For some older games like Team Fortress 2 this means spinning up a bot to ruin servers, but for Runescape the hacks are a little more lighthearted and fun. Like this axe which allows [BigFancyBen] to play Runescape in real life.
This is more of an augmented reality hack which upgrades his normal human interface device from a simple keyboard and mouse to also include this axe. When the axe is manipulated in real life, the in-game axe can be used at the same time. There are a lot of layers to this one but essentially a Switch joycon is connected to the axe to sense motion, which relays the information on axe swings to an API via a Python script. A bot in the game then chops the virtual tree, which is reported back to the API which then reports it back to [BigFancyBen]’s viewscreen which is additionally streamed on Twitch.
While this started off as frustration with the game’s insistence on grinding in order to reach certain objectives, it seems that there are some fun ways of manipulating that game mechanic for the greater good. [BigFancyBen] originally said he would rather go to the gym than “click anymore rooftops” this is quite the start on the full IRLScape world. Don’t forget that it’s equally possible to take this type of build in the opposite direction and control real-world things from inside a video game.
In the world of the cockpit simulator hobby, no detail is too small to obsess over. Getting the look and feel of each and every cockpit control just right is important, and often means shelling out for cockpit-accurate parts. But not always, as these DIY magnetically captured toggle switches show.
Chances are good you’ve seen [The Warthog Project]’s fantastically detailed A-10 Thunderbolt II cockpit simulator before; we’ve featured it recently, and videos from the ongoing build pop up regularly in our feeds. The sim addresses the tiniest of details, including the use of special toggle switches that lock into place automatically using electromagnets. They’re commercially available, but only for those with very deep pockets — depending on the supplier, up to several thousand dollars per unit!
The homebrew substitute is mercifully cheap and easy to build, though — a momentary DPST toggle switch is partially gutted, with a length of nail substituted for one of its poles. The nail sticks out of the back of the switch, where a bracket holds a small electromagnet. When energized, the electromagnet holds the nail firmly when the switch is toggled on; the simulated pilot can still manually toggle the switch off, or it can be released automatically by de-energizing the coil. Each switch cost less than $20 to make, including the MOSFETs needed to drive the coils and the Arduino to provide the logic. The panels they adorn look fantastic, and the switches add a level of functional detail that’s just right for the whole build.
Generally, using a gun to turn your lights off is dangerous and expensive, but for the [DuctTape Mechanic], it’s just how he does things. Video also after the break. To be fair, he uses a salvaged Nintendo Zapper, not a firearm, and replaces the guts with an RF transmitter. We are shocked that he chose a radio model instead of infrared seeing as how he is repurposing a light gun, but our scores in Duck Hunt suggest he made the right choice.
The transmitter comes from a keychain remote, so it all fits neatly inside the Zapper chassis. A couple of wires hijack the stock button and run to the stock trigger, so you keep that authentic feel. The receiver side is a bit trickier. When it senses a button press, it sends a pulse, as you would find in a garage door opener, but to keep a lamp on, there needs to be some latching and so there is an Arduino. The microcontroller keeps a tally and operates a 10 amp relay module, so it is mostly acting as the glue between hardware. All of the mains electrical components sit in a blue plastic box with a receptacle on the front.
Have you seen this yet? YouTuber [VK’s Channel] claims to have a permanent fix for Joy-Con drift — the tendency for Nintendo Switch controllers to behave as though they’re being moved around when they’re not even being touched. Like everyone else, [VK’s Channel] tried all the usual suspects: compressed air, isopropyl alcohol, contact cleaner, and even WD-40. But these are only temporary fixes, and the drift always comes back. None of the other fixes so far are permanent, either, like shimming the flat cable that connects the stick to the mobo, adding graphite to the worn pads inside, or trying to fix a possible bad antenna connection.
While calibrating a drifting Joy-Con, [VK’s Channel] noticed that applying pressure near the Y and B buttons corrected the issue immediately, so they got the idea to add a 1mm thick piece of card stock inside. [VK’s Channel] believes the issue is that there is no fastener connecting the plastic part of the joystick to the metal part on the bottom. Over time, using the joystick causes the bottom to sag, which makes the metal contacts inside lose their grip on the graphite pads. It’s been two months now and there is absolutely no drift in either of the Joy-Cons that [VK’s Channel] has shored up this way.
Nintendo is now fixing Joy-Cons for free. The problem is that they are replacing irreparable ones outright, so you have to agree that you will settle for a plain old gray, red, or blue instead of your special edition Zelda controllers or whatever you send them. Hopefully, this really is a permanent fix, and that Nintendo gives [VK’s Channel] a job.
The plethora of wireless communications technologies have cut the comms wire for many applications, but these devices still require power. For home automation, this might mean a battery or mains power, but there is also an alternative that we don’t see often: Kinetic power. [Bigclivecom] bought some kinetic switches from eBay and gave it his usual reverse engineering treatment.
True to the marketing, these switches do not require external power or a battery to send a wireless signal. Instead, it harvests energy from the magnetic latching action of the switch itself. When the switch is actuated, a small current is induced in a coil as the polarity of the magnetic field through its core changes rapidly. Through a series of diodes and resisters, the energy is stored in a capacitor, which is then used to power a small transmitter chip. The antenna coil is wrapped around the switch housing.
The receiver side is powered by mains and includes a relay output for lights. It would be really nice to have a hacker-friendly module for projects. We would be curious to see the range that these devices are capable of.
The same technology is used inside the Philips Hue Tap switch, of which Adafruit did a teardown a few years ago. If you want to learn more about RF modulation, check out the crash course article we put out a while back. Of course, the RTL SDR is an indispensable and affordable tool if you want to do some experimentation.