Posts with «arduino» label

Music Box Plays “Still Alive” Thanks to Automated Hole Puncher

Custom hole punch and feed system

Most projects have one or two significant aspects in which custom work or clever execution is showcased, but this Music Box Hole Punching Machine by [Josh Sheldon] and his roommate [Matt] is a delight on many levels. Not only was custom hardware made to automate punching holes in long spools of paper for feeding through a music box, but a software front end to process MIDI files means that in a way, this project is really a MIDI-to-hand-cranked-music-box converter. What a time to be alive.

The hole punch is an entirely custom-made assembly, and as [Josh] observes, making a reliable hole punch turns out to be extremely challenging. Plenty of trial and error was involved, and the project’s documentation as well as an overview video go into plenty of detail. Don’t miss the music box version of “Still Alive”, either. Both are embedded below.

As [Josh] mentioned on his project page, he was inspired by a tutorial video showing how to punch music by hand. It led to this tool to take a MIDI file and cut the music paper out on a laser cutter, whereas [Josh] and [Matt] were inspired to automate the entire process in their own way.

For those of you who don’t think science should stop there, why not automate the creation of the music itself with the output of this Bach-emulating Recurring Neural Network?

Thanks to [Tim Trzepacz] for giving us a heads up on this delightful project!


Filed under: musical hacks

Turn a card catalog into an audio memory chest

When you travel, you likely collect photographs and knick-knacks that can be displayed nicely for yourself and others. David Levin, however, took this one step further and used an MP3 recorder to capture the sounds of the places he and his wife have visited. But how does one show off sounds? Levin has a clever answer for that in the form of his Arduino-based Audio Memory Chest.

The project uses a recycled card catalog to hold items from each place traveled, and when one drawer is pulled out, a magnet and Hall effect sensor tells an Arduino Pro Mini which drawer has been opened. A serial MP3 player module then produces a random audio file recorded at that location, treating the user to both the sights and sounds of the region! 

My wife and I have been lucky enough to travel all over the world together during the past few years. Wherever we go, I collect little knick knacks, souvenirs, and ephemera. I also use a little MP3 recorder to capture sounds (marketplaces, street sound, music, etc). It’s always amazing to listen to these later—they immediately bring you back to a place, far better than a photograph alone could.

Monitor your well with an ultrasonic fluid level meter

After discussing how their grandfather used to monitor well levels outside of a summer cottage in order to avoid emptying it, Instructables user “karlli” and his brother decided to take on this task themselves. Instead of checking it manually, they used a pair of Arduinos to do this for them.

One board sits above the well and senses water level with an ultrasonic sensor, while the other receives this data, calculates the volume of water remaining, and displays it nicely for those in the house to see.

Because the well is located about 25m from the house and we wanted the display indoors, we opted for using two Arduinos with a data link in between. You can easily modify the project to use just one Arduino if this is not the case for you. Why not use wireless data transfer? Partly due to simplicity and robustness (the wire is less likely to be damaged by moisture) and partly because we wanted to avoid using batteries on the sensor side. With a wire, we could route both data transfer and power through the same cable.

According to the write-up, volume can be calculated to an accuracy of ± one liter. In practice, the setup responds to a flushed toilet or running the tap for a few minutes, and shows the well refilling overnight!

Chest of Drawers Stores Audio Memories

Some people collect stamps, some collect barbed wire, and some people even collect little bits of silicon and plastic. But the charmingly named [videoschmideo] collects memories, mostly of his travels around the world with his wife. Trinkets and treasures are easy to keep track of, but he found that storing the audio clips he collects a bit more challenging. Until he built this audio memory chest, that is.

Granted, you might not be a collector of something as intangible as audio files, and even if you are, it seems like Google Drive or Dropbox might be the more sensible place to store them. But the sensible way isn’t always the best way, and we really like this idea. Starting with what looks like an old card catalog file — hands up if you’ve ever greedily eyed a defunct card catalog in a library and wondered if it would fit in your shop for parts storage — [videoschmideo] outfitted 16 drawers with sensors to detect when they’re opened. Two of the drawers were replaced by speaker grilles, and an SD card stores all the audio files. When a drawer is opened, a random clip from that memory is played while you look through the seashells, postcards, and what-have-yous. Extra points for using an old-school typewriter for the drawer labels, and for using old card catalog cards for the playlists.

This is a simple idea, but a powerful one, and we really like the execution here. This one manages to simultaneous put us in the mood for some world travel and a trip to a real library.


Filed under: misc hacks
Hack a Day 18 Sep 12:00

Controlling a TV with head movements

While most of us take being able to remotely control a television or other appliance for granted, for the millions of people with some form of disability, this can present a challenge. In order to help those with limited mobility, Cassio Batista along with Erick Campos have come up with a system that translates head movements into infrared (IR) control signals.

In the project’s video seen below, Batista shows off how he can move his head to turn a TV on and off, as well as control channel selection and volume. A webcam captures these gestures, which are passed on to a Linux-based C.H.I.P. board that translates the movements using OpenCV. Finally, an Arduino Uno receives these commands over Bluetooth and signals the TV as needed via IR.

In addition to television, this system could easily be applied to other IR-based appliances, making lives easier, or perhaps simply eliminating a physical remote altogether.

Make a vintage-style video poker box with Arduino

When you’re the best man at a wedding, you could get the groom a nice knife, shaving kit, or some other sentimental and/or useful item. If, however, you’re Imgurian “msx80,” you make a video poker machine with an Arduino!

The game itself is controlled using five switches to hold or change cards, along with a deal and bet button. The play field is shown on a small LCD screen via I2C, which uses custom characters to reveal the different card suits.

Everything is housed in a nicely decorated wooden box, giving it a retro, almost steampunk feel. As you can see from the Imgur photos, it’s certainly a unique display piece and looks like something that would be fun to play. And yes, the groom was happy with the gift as well!

Arduino Blog 16 Sep 18:30

This pocket-sized gadget helps build positive habits

Want to read more, remember to take your vitamins, or even take out the trash? With the “Dory” Arduino-based tracking device from YouTuber YellowRobot.XYZ, now you can!

Dory–which comes in both a circular and smaller square version–uses an NFC reader to sense tags attached near the object that needs work. When you complete a positive action, you simply tap the nearby tag and the small gadget will light up its corresponding LEDs via an Arduino Pro Mini.

If you’d like to know where you are on your habit count, this is displayed with a button in the middle, and can be reset by holding it down. Beside from tracking habits, Dory is a great reminder of what can be done with NFC tags!

Reed Organ MIDI Conversion Tickles All 88 Keys

What did you do in high school? Chances are it wasn’t anywhere near as cool as turning a reed organ into a MIDI device. And even if you managed to pull something like that off, did you do it by mechanically controlling all 88 keys? Didn’t think so.

A reed organ is a keyboard instrument that channels moving air over sets of tuned brass reeds to produce notes. Most are fairly complex affairs with multiple keyboards and extra controls, but the one that [Willem Hillier] scored for free looks almost the same as a piano. Even with the free instrument [Willem] is about $500 into this project. Almost half of the budget went to the solenoids and driver MOSFETs — there’s a solenoid for each key, after all. And each one required minor surgery to reduce the clicking and clacking sounds that don’t exactly contribute to the musical experience. [Willem] designed custom driver boards for the MOSFETs with 16 channels per board, and added in a couple of power supplies to feed all those hungry solenoids and the three Arduinos needed to run the show. The video below shows the organ being stress-tested with the peppy “Flight of the Bumblebee”; there’s nothing wrong with a little showing off.

[Willem]’s build adds yet another instrument to the MIDI fold. We’ve covered plenty before, from accordions to harmonicas and even a really annoying siren.


Filed under: musical hacks

World Maker Faire New York: Call for Volunteers!

Planning on attending Maker Faire New York this month? We’re looking for volunteers to join the Arduino team for the weekend—staffing tables and displays, assisting with one-on-one demos, and providing technical assistance when necessary.

Those who help us out will receive a day pass so you can explore and enjoy everything happening around the faire grounds. Water, snacks, and a t-shirt will be provided, and we’ve even prepared a small gift to show our appreciation at the end of the your shift.

If interested, please fill out this questionnaire and we’ll get back to you soon! We also have a paid position available for a NYC-based photographer, who will be responsible for taking pictures of our booth, Arduino projects, and talks. Sound like you or someone you know? Send us a note at events@arduino.cc

Super simple controller for Motorcycle LED lights

For automobiles, especially motorcycles, auxiliary lighting that augments the headlights can be quite useful, particularly when you need to drive/ride through foggy conditions and poorly lit or unlit roads and dirt tracks. Most primary lighting on vehicles still relies on tungsten filament lamps which have very poor efficiency. The availability of cheap, high-efficiency LED modules helps add additional lighting to the vehicle without adding a lot of burden on the electrical supply. If you want to add brightness control, you need to either buy a dimmer module, or roll your own. [PatH] from WhiskeyTangoHotel choose the latter route, and built a super simple LED controller for his KLR650 bike.

He chose a commonly available 18 W light bar module containing six 3 W LEDs. He then decided to build a microcontroller based dimmer to offer 33%, 50% and 100% intensities. And since more code wasn’t going to cost him anything extra, he added breathing and strobe modes. The hardware is as barebones as possible, consisting of an Arduino Nano, linear regulator, power MOSFET and control switch, with a few discretes thrown in. The handlebar mounted control switch is a generic motorcycle accessory that has two push buttons (horn, headlight) and a slide switch (turn indicators). One cycles through the various brightness modes on the pushbutton, while the slide switch activates the Strobe function. A status indicator LED is wired up to the Nano and installed on the handlebar control switch. It provides coded flashes to indicate the selected mode.

It’s a pity that the “breathing” effect is covered under a patent, at least for the next couple of years, so be careful if you plan to use that mode while on the road. And the Strobe mode — please don’t use it — like, Ever. It’s possible to induce a seizure which won’t be nice for everyone involved. Unless you are in a dire emergency and need to attract someone’s attention for help.


Filed under: led hacks
Hack a Day 09 Sep 09:00