Video Quick Bit: The Best DIY Musical Instruments

The Hackaday Prize is almost over, and soon we’ll know the winners of the greatest hardware competition on the planet. A few weeks ago, we wrapped up the last challenge in the Hackaday Prize, the Musical Instrument Challenge. This is our challenge to build something that goes beyond traditional music instrumentation. Majenta’s back again looking at the coolest projects in the Musical Instrument Challenge in the Hackaday Prize.

We’re old-school hardware hackers here, and when you think about building your own drum machine, there’s really nothing more impressive than building one out of an Atari 2600. That’s what [John Sutley] did with his Syndrum project. It’s a custom cartridge for an Atari with a fancy ZIF socket. Of course, you need some way to trigger those drum sounds, so [John] is using an Arduino connected to the controller port as a sort-of MIDI-to-Joystick bridge.

If you want more retro consoles turned into musical instruments, look no further than [Aristides]’ DMG-01 Ukulele. It’s a ukulele with a 3D printed neck, bolted onto the original ‘brick’ Game Boy. Yes, it works as a ukulele, but that’s not the cool part. There are electronics inside that sense each individual string and turn it into a distorted chiptune assault on the ears. Just awesome.

How about a unique, new musical instrument? That’s what [Tim] is doing with Stylish!, a wearable music synthesizer. It’s based heavily on a stylophone, but with a few interesting twists. It’s built around an STM32, so there are a lot of options for what this instrument sounds like, and it’s all wrapped up in a beautiful enclosure. It’s some of the best work we’ve seen in this year’s Musical Instrument Challenge.

The Hackaday Prize is almost over, and on Saturday we’ll be announcing the winners at this year’s Hackaday Superconference. Tune in to the live stream to see which project will walk away with the grand prize of $50,000!

Video Quick Bit: The Best In Human Computer Interfaces

We’re neck deep in the Hackaday Prize, and we just wrapped up the Human Computer Interface Challenge. This is an incredible contest to go beyond traditional mice and keyboards to find new ways to transfer your desires directly into a computer. Majenta Strongheart is back at it again, giving us a look at some of the coolest Human Computer Interface builds in this year’s Hackaday Prize

The Hackaday Prize is all about hacking, really, and there’s no better project that demonstrates this than [Curt White]’s hacked fitness tracker. This is a tiny, $35 fitness tracker that’s loaded up with Bluetooth and an ECG front end. With a few slight modifications this cheap bit of consumer electronics can become a prototyping platform for ECG/EMG/EEG projects. Awesome work.

But when it comes to Human Computer Interfaces, what’s really cool is games. Remember the Power Glove? Of course, everyone does. How about the Sega Activator, the first full-body motion controller? Yeah, now we’re getting into the good stuff. [Arcadia Labs] build a Head Tracker for their favorite space flight sims, and the results are remarkable. Take a look at the videos and you can see the promise of this kind of tech.

The biggest advance in Human-Computer Interaction in the last few years is obviously VR. Once the domain of some early-90s not-quite cyberpunk, VR is now showing up in living rooms. The HiveTracker is an ingenious device that reverse engineers the technology behind the Vive Tracker from HTC. This is a tiny little device that allows for sub-millimeter 3D positioning, and also adds a 9DOF IMU to the mix. If you’ve ever wanted to know exactly where you are, this is the project for you.

Right now we’re plowing through the Musical Instrument Challenge where we’re asking you to build something that pushes the boundaries of instrumentation. If you’re building a synth, we want to see it. If you’re making music with vacuum tubes, we want to see it. Got one of those guitars that are like, double guitars? Yes, we want that too. Twenty of the Musical Instrument Challenge submissions will be selected to move on to the finals and win $1000 in the process. The top five entries of the 2018 Hackaday Prize will split $100,000! This is your chance, so enter now!

Video Quick Bit: Power Harvesting Hacks

Majenta Strongheart is back again, this time taking a look at some of the coolest power harvesting projects in this year’s Hackaday Prize.

The entire idea of the Power Harvesting Challenge is to get usable power from something, be it solar energy, a rushing waterfall, or fueling steam turbines with hamsters. [Cole B] decided that instead of capturing energy from one of these power sources, he’d do it all. He created Power Generation Modules, or Lego bricks for harvesting power. There’s a hand crank module, a water turbine module, and enough modules to do something with all that captured power like a light module and a USB charger module.

But maybe you don’t want to generate power the normal way. Maybe you think spinning magnets is too mainstream, or something. If that’s the case, then [Josh] has the project for you. It’s the P Cell, a battery fueled by urine. Yes, it’s just a simple copper zinc wet cell using urea as an electrolyte, but remember: in the early 1800s, human urine was a major source of nitrates used in the manufacture of gunpowder. Why not get some electricity from something that is just sent down the tubes?

Right now we’re in the middle of the Human Computer Interface Challenge. Show us that you have what it takes to get a computer to talk to a human, get a human to talk to a computer, or even recreate one of those weird 3D CAD mice from the early 90s. We’re looking for any interesting ways to bridge that valley between people and their devices. Twenty Human Computer Interface Challenge submissions will be selected to move onto the finals and win $1000 in the process! The five top entries of the 2018 Hackaday Prize will split $100,000!

Video Quick-Bit: The Things That Move Robots

Magenta Strongheart returns for a look at some of the coolest robotic entries from this year’s Hackaday Prize. Each of these answered the challenge for modular designs that will help supercharge new robot projects.

We think that cheap and abundant motor designs are poised to revolutionize robotics and several of the entries thought along those same lines. [Masahiro Mizuno] came up with a great 3D printed servo design based around a 6mm DC motor. Also in this ballpark, a team of two — Giovanni Leal and Jonathan Diaz — used 3D printing to turn some tiny metallic servos into linear actuators.

Picking stuff up is a difficult thing for a machine to do. We’ve long enjoyed seeing jamming grippers which do it with an inflatable bladder around a granular material (watch the video… it’s amazing). Two of these were demonstrated as part of the challenge. The Universal Jamming Gripper focuses on the entire mechanism, while Programmable Air took aim at the pneumatic actuation system and can adapt to other soft-robotics uses.

Rounding out this update, make sure to take a peek at the PCB stepper motor [Bobricius] built after being inspired by [Carl Bugeja’s] PCB motor. You’ll also want to see the entry that is taking on industrial farming. Imaging slow-rolling behemoths that use computer vision and spinning tillers to take care of weeds, cutting down on herbicide use.

Right now we’re in the thick of the Power Harvesting Challenge. Show us how you’re getting power from an interesting source and you’ll be on the way to the finals. Twenty power harvesting entries will get that honor, along with a $1,000 cash prize. The five top entries of the 2018 Hackaday Prize will split $100,000!