I’ve got virtual circuits on the mind lately. There are a myriad of tools out there that I could pick up to satisfy this compulsion. But the one I’m reaching for is Minecraft. I know what you’re thinking… a lot of people think Minecraft is getting long in the tooth. But chances are you never tried some of the really incredible things Minecraft can do when it comes to understanding logic structures. This goes way beyond simple circuits and easily hops back and forth over the divide between hardware logic and software logic.
Finding a product that is everything you want isn’t always possible. Making your own that checks off all those boxes can be. [Peter Clough] took the latter route and built a small Bluetooth speaker with an LED visualization display that he calls Magic Box.
A beefy 20W, 4Ohm speaker was screwed to the lid of a wooden box converted to the purpose. [Clough] cut a clear plastic sheet to the dimensions of the box, notching it 2cm from the edge to glue what would become the sound reactive neopixel strip into place — made possible by an electret microphone amplifier. There ended up being plenty of room inside the speaker box to cram an Arduino Pro Mini 3.3V, the RN-52 Bluetooth receiver, and the rest of the components, with an aux cable running out the base of the speaker. As a neat touch, neodymium magnets hold the lid closed.
People like music, but they are also visual creatures. Perhaps that’s why music visualization is such a common project. Usually, you think of music visualization as using LEDs or a computer screen. However, [Gieeel] did his music visualization using a 3D printer.
Sure, the visualization is a little static compared to LEDs, but it does make an interesting conversation piece. The actual process isn’t very difficult, once you have the idea. [Gieeel] captured the waveform in Audacity, did a screen capture, and then converts the image to an SVG file using Inkscape.
From there, you can use many different CAD tools to convert the image into a 3D object. [Gieeel] used Autodesk Fusion 360 and had the resulting object professionally 3D printed.
Last week we saw a lot of interest in faux visualization of wireless signals. It used a tablet as an interface device to show you what the wireless signals around you looked like and was kind of impressive if you squinted your eyes and didn’t think too much about it. But for me it was disappointing because I know it is actually possible to see what radio waves look like. In this post I will show you how to actually do it by modifying a coffee can radar which you can build at home.
The late great Prof. David Staelin from MIT once told me once that, ‘if you make a new instrument and point it at nature you will learn something new.’ Of all the things I’ve pointed Coffee Can Radars at, one of the most interesting thus far is the direct measurement and visualization of 2.4 GHz radiation which is in use in our WiFi, cordless phones (if you still have one) and many other consumer goods. There is no need to fool yourself with fake visualizations when you can do it for real.
Ever since flat panel LCD monitors came on the scene, most old CRTs have found their ways into the garbage or into the backs of closets. For this project, it might be a good idea to pull out the old monitor or TV out and dust it off! [James] has found a way to hack the VGA input to these devices to get them to display vivid visualizations based on an audio input.
The legacy hardware-based project is called RGB.VGA.VOLT and works by taking an audio signal as an input, crossing some wires, and sending the signal through a synthesizer. The circuit then creates a high-frequency waveform that works especially well for being displayed on VGA. The video can also be channeled back through an audio waveform generator to create a unique sound to go along with the brilliant colors.
[James]’s goals with this project are to generate an aesthetic feeling with his form of art and to encourage others to build upon his work. To that end, he has released the project under an open license, and the project is thoroughly documented on his project site.
There have been plenty of hacks in the past that have implemented other protocols with VGA or implemented VGA on microcontrollers, but none that have hacked the interface entirely to create something that looks like the Star Gate sequence from 2001: A Space Odyssey. We think it’s a great piece of modern art and a novel use of VGA!
Thanks for the tip, [Kyle]!
As much as we like a good clean Model M specimen, those curly-corded clicky behemoths are somewhat lacking for certain flavors of gaming. There aren’t any blank keys to override, and there sure isn’t a full-color trackpad that you can write apps for. [Gus] has such a keyboard: the Razer Deathstalker Ultimate which features the SwitchBlade UI. He made himself this sweet audio visualizer for it that extends Winamp visualizations to the Switchblade UI.
[Gus]’s hack is built on the Tiny3D visualization framework. It does what you might expect—reads the visualization values, sets them up for display on the trackpad, and renders them to said trackpad. [Gus] uses some of the 10 programmable keys to change colors on the fly, and the result is pretty awesome. As [Gus] points out, this is just the beginning of what the plugin can do. You’ll need the Razer SDK to get started, and you can get the other ingredients from [Gus]’s repo. Once you’re done with this, you could try auto-dimming your keyboard backlight.
Of course there are demo videos after the jump. Come on.
The folks over at Gadget Gangster have been working on a music visualization system using a Parallax Propeller. The visualizations are awesome in their early-90s demoscene way, and of course we love anything using the oft under-appreciated Propeller.
The project is called Video Beats and it generates music visualizations in the style of a blocky but very complex Atari 2600 game. There’s really not much to the build – just two RCA jacks for the audio input and video output along with a couple of resistors – but we do appreciate how nicely this project would fit in at a chiptunes show.
The Gadget Gangster team says the input isn’t limited to just audio – a potentiometer, accelerometer, or even a light sensor can be added to the build for a more dynamic output. After the break, you can see the demo of Video Beats, and a [Family Sohn] music video that used an early version of this circuit.