The forums are retiring and are now closed for new topics and comments. The existing content will remain online and accessible through 2020 to provide everyone the opportunity to save any relevant information. In the spring of 2021, these Community forums will be taken offline.

Search for synth in Topics

Building a synth guitar

Does anybody know if it is possible to take some components out of a keyboard, link it up to the pickups of a guitar and make a synthaxe out of it?

Topic by AerofoilAAAA  

cmoy feedback "synth"

This isn't a question, just an interesting discovery that I didn't think warranted an entire instructable Decided to convert my old cmoy amp into a portable speaker, so I found some little drivers and soldered them to the pins of the output jack, tested it, worked fine, then I got bored and decided to connect the input jack to the output jack with an aux cable:

Topic by erenjay    |  last reply

Digital control analog synth?

Hi all! I have an idea buzzing round my head and I could really do with some guidance. I'd like to implement digital control over an analog synth so I could have presets saved on a microcontroller. The synth in question is Serge modular. All the info on various modules can be found on the link below. Ultimately I'd like to be able to save and recall knob and switch settings, not patching. I would like this to be at the highest resolution possible, so no MIDI. Ideally 16 or 14 bit resolution. I'm a beginner in this, although I do know how to solder, but I don't have the underlying technical knowledge. So, how doable is this? What do I need to consider? Has anyone done something similar? Thanks!

Question by Dierge    |  last reply

Chiptune Guitar Synth Project

So ive recently thought of doing some chiptune music. But when it comes to doing all the programming on a Gameboy with Little Sound DJ, or making some song on Rymtik Retrobits on my 3DS, i feel like i could do better with an actual chiptune instrument. Ive looked in a few nooks and crannies of the interwebs and i have acquired some knowledge of homemade synths, but nothing i dont think i could actually use. I did find a neat link of a guy who made a Guitar Hero PS2 guitar controller thing, and the chord buttons were connected in series. The different chord buttons, when two or more are pressed, create different notes. There was also a whammy bar that made the chipnotes act like guitar notes with reverb. He also added an audio jack to connect it to a speaker or an amp. The one part im trying to figure out is how to make this instrument more of a synth than a one sound chiptune device. It might be possible to replace the "strum bar" thing on the GH controller with some additional buttons that make different kinds of 8-bit sounds while the whammy bar is used by the palm. The sketch ive made should shed some light on what im talking about. With all of that being said, is there anyone out there who could help me design a schematic or something that can help to make this thing better than what i could design by myself? I got the skills to build the instrument, but not the skills to design the electronics and circuits that go with it. Any help is greatly appreciated!

Topic by EngineerJakit    |  last reply

What is the purpose of the capacitor in a music synth circuit ?

I know how the capacitor works but i don't get the point of it. What i'm trying to ask is how does it help the circuit run current.

Question by Naps    |  last reply

i would like to build a small simple synthesizer using 555 chips if possible. any oe haeve ideas or help?

I have a few 555 timers and  have always wanted to build a sythesizer but i just don't know where to start. i have seen the optical theremin and  the 555 metronome. i could add a pot instead of the photo transistor, and maybe connect the out put from the theremin to the metronome  i would like some thing more like this , . i would like to kow if it is possible with 555 timers.

Question by zs    |  last reply

I'm selling build your own mini synth kits

Hi, I'm selling kits of an Instructable I made to build your own synth. The EM-Tronic: This kit provides you with the components and instructions that you need to build a small handheld digital synth. All you need to do is build the kit and find an enclosure to fit it into. I'm selling them on Etsy: Here is the Instructable if you want to build your own: Cheers, Brian

Topic by rarebeasts  

Arduino Uno Synth project - Audio output questions

Hi! I am developing a synth/sampler project based on the Arduino Uno r3. This is my first electronics project ever and because of that reason I have some questions which I can't find a definite answer for on internet. The synth has two function. It has a tone generator using the ToneAC library. With code I have mimicked LFO and VCO functions, using potmeters I can adjust the frequency and LFO speed realtime. The other function is that I can trigger samples stored on a SD card using the TMRpcm library. The device will be used in nightclubs on high end soundsystems and PA. I am afraid I will damage the equipment with my device because I do not send a pure audio (AC?) signal. Currently the flow is like this: PWM output (pin 9, 10) -> voltage divider to 2.5v -> RC Low Pass Filter 15Khz -> LM386 amp with volume control -> mono jack output -> mixing desk -> amplifier -> speakers (the TMRpcm and ToneAC library share the same pin (9), I have fixed this by disabling the TMRpcm when the ToneAC is playing and vice versa. The mono jack is wired as follow. pin 9 goes to plus side of mono jack output, pin 10 to negative side. The TMRpcm pin 9 also needs to go to plus side of mono jack output, and mono jack negative needs to go to ground. Because I disable the ToneAC at that time I consider port 10 grounded because it not generating any sound so there is no signal/voltage running out of it, aka the IO pin is set to LOW) I am hoping that using the voltage divider I am within range of the Audio Line levels of a default mixers Line-IN (like Pioneer, Behringer, etc). The RC Low Pass Filter is used to filter of inaudible frequencies and clean up the sound a bit, the LM386 audio amp is used to amplify the signal and (hopefully) make it a real audio signal. The lowest frequency you can play with the synth is 100hz and the highest frequency is 3100hz. Because I lack a lot of knowledge in this field and because I do not own a oscilloscoop I can't say for sure if my output signal is harmful for the equipment and was hoping to get some guidance on my project on this forum.

Topic by erik404  

Is there a way to use a Guitar Hero guitar as a MIDI controller or synth-strument?

Specifically, it's a wireless Kramer for PS2 that I've got. I've looked around, and the guides I've seen here and elsewhere seem to be a bit lacking in information, or are a bit old. Also, I'm using Linux, and all the stuff I've seen has been for Windows (in the case of use as a MIDI controller).

Question by mindsystem    |  last reply

Getting all notes from a soundfont - Audacity?

  What I'm trying to do is to generate a set of MP3 files for various instruments (including synthesized sounds)  at each key of the chromatic scale over 2 octaves.    The brute-force method is to dig out the cheap old midi keyboard from the loft, put it through a software synth and record, note by note.  However,  I've just discovered Soundfonts which are a packaged set of samples at some (but not all) notes in the octave  for an instrument which are used to generate a full sample set for a synth.  This would appear to be a method which will give a better result for less effort.  Audacity apparently can do things with soundfonts, but will it allow me to generate a full scale?  Is there other (Windows) software available which will do what I'm after?

Topic by AndyGadget  

Sounds with electronics

So here goes, I am trying to figure out how to make basic sound generating machines. Preferably generating a sound that can be modified with a potentiometer or something of the sort. The principle is simple, these will be for messing around, possibly, if the result is good, using in some random recordings of mine, so most of the machines will have a jack out plug. Anyhow I was wondering, what, in a circuit, actually makes sound, what is the base of all sound generating electronic devices (synth, analog stuff, beepers) what actually creates the wave, the current that is sent to the speakers? Have I just answered my own question by saying current? Is it just the electrical current, and putting random resistors, capacitators, potentiometers and stuff changes the sound that is generated? Any help is more than welcome! and if anything good comes of it, I'll post some sound clips!

Topic by gavox    |  last reply

Electr'Ocarina of Time

Hi there! Okay so here i am with this idea i've been tackle with for weeks. Hold tight it's a long presentation. Brief Basically, i would like to make en electronic version of the Ocarina of time from Zelda. I would like to keep it really simple at least for the first step. So it will look like a proper ocarina but instead of holes there will be 6 arcade buttons ( Red, Green and 4 yellow as a reminder of the N64 gamepad buttons). Each button is assigned a note wich will be played while blowing through a microphone. The sound will be a synthesized sinewave that would be played thanks to a speaker. Will be great also if the device could work on a USB chargeable battery. I Have been doing researches on how to make it for a while now, though could'nt find exactly what i was looking for and not sure how to fit different parts together to make a worrkable fork. So i believe i have two options. As you may guess i am fairly new to electronics, programming and electronic music (Lol i read that all the times). To be as clear as possible i am gonna put some schemes of how i picture myself the electronic but i really don't know how it's supposed to be managed, i mean i know there will be some resistors, capacitors or whatever between the "function blocks" i draw but i have absolutely no clue of what should actually really appear. Option 1 - Analog So i made this stylophone few months ago : It is based on a 555 timer (i also saw some mini synths based on this component). It felt to me as a good starting point. Volume would be controlled through the mic instead of a pot and i would get rid of the pitch pot and all the unecessary notes. But i would like it to sound more fluty and so i found this tuto on how to make a sinewave but don't know how to use it in this project (or even if possible) : Regarding the microphone part I've also seen this insctrutable but the synth seemed to me way over what i planed to do in terms of sound synthesis ability : Option 2 - Digital So comes option 2 wich consist in using an arduino to synthesize the wave that would play if microphone is HIGH and if button 1 is High key 1 would be played etc. The scheme I provided seem definitely wrong to me but that's a first shot anyway. About sound synthesis with arduino i found this library i havent gone through the tutorial yet but it seem a little bit picky. So as you see i am kinda lost and a little clarification would be awesomely nice. I am actually working in a fablab and i would like to develop this project to be used as a workshop. Im pretty sure lots of old grown up kids would love to get a little ocarina. There are some other options i would like to implement (regarding what happend if you press several buttons or none) but well first things first. Hope you like the Idea, hope you can help. Love, Starsheeps and Electro-cupcakes! Adrien

Topic by ElectroSoja    |  last reply

How would I get started making my own audio synthesizers?

I've been admiring and building rudimentary synthesizers for a while now (Nandhopper, Atari Punk Synth, etc..) but I still don't understand the deeper theory behind the circuits. I want to build my own synthesizers- where on earth do I start?

Question    |  last reply

how to make a sonic screwdriver sound with a synthesizer?

I am going to 3d print a sonic screwdriver from Doctor Who and I have everything figured out except one thing. How do you make a synthesizer made with a 555 timer chip make the same sound as a sonic screwdriver? If it needs two chips, I can do that. Thanks for any help in advance!

Question by trenzalorian    |  last reply

Can a ring modulator be used to achieve a vocoder or talkbox effect? Answered

Using a microphone as one input and a keyboard on the other input of a ring modulator.

Question by iggyz123    |  last reply

Is putting weight to unweighted synthesizer keys a good idea? How do I do that? Answered

In my case it's a Korg X50. I can barely express myself with these keys. Any ideas on the topic are welcome before I screw my korg open.

Question by cephalopoid    |  last reply

Need some advice on fixing power issues with my instructable

So I built an Atari punk synth using instructions on this site and made it a bit more advanced. It has six 555 timers and button controls. Now I would like to power this thing with a 9volt wall plug, the same thing I use for my effect pedals, but I have crazy power issues when I set it up this way. It works fine when I just use a 9 volt battery, but when it's set up to be used with a 9 volt wall plug it seems like its getting way to much power. The sound goes crazy and it blows out my LEDs even though I have resistors on them. I've tried putting a resistor on the power jack, but it doesn't sound right when I do that and it still doesn't work right. So I'm curious what's exactly going on here. Regular effect pedals that run on 9 volts work fine with the wall plug and even the instructables on here say you can use them. But for some reason this thing only will work with a battery. Could it be the parts I'm using? I have a feeling it has to do with wattage and my parts just can't handle it.  Any advice would be greatly appreciated. 

Topic by wickednick    |  last reply

What's wrong with this wiring?

I've finally decided to undergo my first real electronics project - building a quad-NAND synth ( as per ). It's basically a simple oscillator run through each NAND gate of a 4000 series CMOS IC, fed into each other for manipulation. This is also my first time actually translating schematics to a breadboard, which I've attempted haphazardly - see my attached image. My questions are the following: How many errors have I run into? If I were to test this oscillator, how would I go about installing the audio jack? Am I grounding this correctly? Thanks!

Question by cshields1    |  last reply

Help hooking up parallax axis2 joy stick

Hi, I'm trying to hook up a parallax axis 2 joy stick to a Atari punk synth that I've been making using a design I got off of instructables. The design uses two 555 timers. I can only get half of the joy stick to work, meaning that when I move the stick it only makes sound when moved up and to the right. I'm not sure why I can't get the other side of the joy stick to work so I'm wondering if anyone can help. Currently the joy stick is hooked up with both of the ground terminals hooked to the ground, L/R+ and U/D+ hooked to the positive. The rest of the terminals are hooked up to pin 7 on one of the 555 timers. This is pretty much the way I've seen it hooked up in other designs, but those designs used arduinos so it was a little different.

Topic by wickednick  

I would like a solution for MIDI-to-USB-to-CV for analog synths.

It would be great to playback MIDI files as Control Voltages via the USB port. Any suggestions or possibly any already viable solution? I know there is a similar arduino project, as well as several MIDI-to-CV converters, but it would seem to be pretty straightforward to convert MIDI to Control Voltages output through USB. Any thoughts on the subject? Any existing solution? I seem to remember seeing a commercial product for this, but a homebrew version would certainly be welcome.



The coolest program EVER it here and show off your synths!

Topic by RelyNupon    |  last reply

Any ideas on how I can hoop up an old synth to a PC?

I have this pretty old synth that has no midi out, just out for a speaker. About the hookup, I know I can just hook it up to my PC's Microphone/Audio Input and record but that's not the point. What I want to do is hook it up to a program (like Reaper) and use the program's synths. So, just use it as a keyboard. And from what I can('t) tell the output is something like square wave (also it can put out sine on the bass keys and i think some options have triangle waves.) Also I have no idea what model this thing is, all I know that it was made by Vermona and it makes a pretty good sound. It's completely analog. Thanks in advance

Question by T0C    |  last reply

How to make an LED equalizer?

I want to do this, but I also want to add a full body (not neck) LED equalizer on it. I want minimal plastic showing on the front. How can this be done?

Question by INVADER SCOOGE    |  last reply

How do i make an arduino-based Ondes Martenot?

I know only a few basics of the ondes, mainly that it works by having a metal ring disrupt radio waves to generate sound. I have only found one instructable and it is only loosely based on the ondes. Also, I need it to be based on the arduino, because it is the only platform I am used to/comfortable with (other than calc prgms) and many other people prefer it as well. Radiohead fans, Jonny Greenwood uses this in songs including Dollars and Cents (live) and Where I End and You Begin.

Question by szechuan53    |  last reply

Star Spangled Banner On Keytar

It's me playing my Roland AX-Synth Keyboard. Watch and comment.

Topic by Oblivitus    |  last reply

turn a square wave froma 555 into a sine wave? Answered

I would like to know how to smooth out a square wave to turn it either into a sine wave or at least a triangle wave. Or if it's not possible i would like to know how to make a sine wave generator to use as a lfo thing for a home made synth. Thanks, Josh1324 PS. It has to be analog, im not getting into microcontrollers or anything digital.

Question by josh1324    |  last reply

Analog sine wave generator? (0v-5v)?

I am wondering how to create an analog (NOT digital) sine wave from 0 - +5 volts (Not -5 - +5). If you could, post a schematics diagram, or send a link to a page with the schematics. It has to have a variable pitch. Thanks, josh1324

Question by josh1324    |  last reply

Korg em1 customize

Hi i would like customize my korg em1 and add a single output to every part of Drum and synth. Can you help me? Tank you. Sorry for my english

Question by Tirec95  

pdf file does not download

I  cannot download the pdf file from: I have tried a different browser and get the same problem. Thanks

Topic by marcorexo    |  last reply

DIY MIDI converter for drum signals?

Hello, I am trying to build a Electric drum set, I have an acoustic kit right now, And piezo buzzers. I would like to know how to convert the voltage coming out of the piezos to a MIDI signal, To run into a synth with drum sets on board. Is there any DIY way or cheap little box to convert it to any selected channel? So, if you have any experience or knowledge on this subject? If so please answer!! Thank you!!!            

Question by ski4jesus    |  last reply

DIY effect pedals?

OK, soo, i would like to start making some effect pedals, i play synth, guitar, and sing a bit, what do you recomend building for a good starter effect? i am already into electronics, i have built a couple amps, an oscillator synth and some other random electronic projects, but now i would like to try my luck on effect pedals, and i dont exactly know what effect is the one i should build first, im looking for something not too hard but a challenge that also has an awesome reward, ideas?

Question by ski4jesus    |  last reply

Where would the ground go in this schematic for a Sawtooth Generator? Answered

I found this schematic in a library book, but there is no ground labeled. Please help as soon as possible, I would like to have this finished by Christmas for my brother. My guess would be on the very bottom wire where C1, Q2, and R6 are connected. (I would highlight where I meant, but I can't seem to add a comment box to the picture.)

Question by josh1324    |  last reply

Theremax -Theremin from PAiA electronics

PAiA electronicsthis is a great source of electronic music equipment kits. Scott is great and easy to work with. I have built a Theremax for my wife and plan on building the Fatman Analog Synth soon (i hope)

Topic by knarfoo  

How can I make the LED in this 555 schematic be off when the sound is on?

I am building this laser ray sound circuit using an LDR where the 220 ohm resistor is for a DJ, but thats beside the point. He wants the LED to be off when the sound is playing but on when its not playing how would I modify this circuit to do that?

Question by powerman666    |  last reply

Build me - Nintendo Game Cube controller that outputs midi at the same time

I need this for an art project. I want a Nintendo GC controller that can simultaneously output regular game control, but also have the buttons output a midi signal. The objective being that I want to capture game input and have it controlling synths, effects, etc.  But I can;t figure out the hardware component of a controller that can do both things at the same time. I would pay and credit someone who could help me do an art installation with this. Budget is small, but I'd be happy to communicate further.  The ultimate result would be would be playing a game (like Smash) on the Nintendo, and at the same time hearing synth output driven by the midi output reflecting the buttons pushed on the game controller Thanks for any help or direction or even ideas on this. x

Topic by SonicBlade  

PDF is not updating when editing the instructable

Hi guys. I've noticed that the PDF version of the instructable does not update when I edit it. Here is an example: when I click "Download", the PDF file contains content, that was published the first time. None of my edits are reflected in there. Pretty sure it's a server side problem, but just in case I'm using Chrome Version 61.0.3163.100 on MacOS 10.12.6.

Topic by rzinurov    |  last reply

Anyone have an instructable or know how to make a theramin?

I remember seeing theremins on talent shows in the old black and white TV days. Theremins were boxes with a vertical rod and a horizontal rod. The musician played the theremin by moving his hands across the rods without touching them. The sounds produced were were akin to synth music. I suppose one could program a synthesizer to do the same but I want to build a theremin.

Question by hunter47    |  last reply

Synthesizer mod? Answered

My current Synthesizer has a very jumpy volume control, it has buttons, so it is either very loud or very quiet, And i need a smooth volume control. during one of my youth groups worship session, i was on synth and it went from quiet to loud WAY too quickly. so i would like to build a volume pot to output...but i dont know what the perfect requirements and setups are....any help on this?

Question by ski4jesus    |  last reply

Transistor voice modulation?

Alright, i know now that there is a way to modulate your voice from putting signal in on the voltage pin of a transistor, and controlling it with a synth into the input voltage. But now, what is that effect? and what is a way to smooth out or get clean sounds from it? Any help is appreciated. Thank you. 

Question by ski4jesus    |  last reply

Guitar Pedal Prototypes

Don't get me wrong, I love acoustic guitars... But I love a good crazily distorted guitar that almost sounds like a synth. Rage against the machine's guitarist Tom Morello epitomizes that wild sound for me. Most good bands have an instantly recognizable sound and one of the ways a guitarist can distinguish zer self is to use a unique set of pedals. Now you could go buy a set and find just the right setup for your taste... or you can build your own. Best part is, there's no soldering involved:Bevis Boardvia:Make

Topic by lamedust    |  last reply

Oscillator Help

Hello, I was wandering if you guys would like to help me out with a quite simple little project. I am looking at making a simple oscillator that could be pumped through a normal musical instrument amplifier. I'm not looking at using any IC's (555, PIC etc...), simply some resisitors and capacitors connected to a audio output and a Rheostat. So my question is this. An oscillator (in terms of electronics) is simply a electronic current that goes from one very high frequency to a very low one, right? So could a just use a fairly big capacitor and a very big resistor and would it be listenable through a speaker?

Topic by dipseydoodle    |  last reply

making a USB music device

For my next shop project I started looking at music devices. at first I wanted to create electric synth music. but then I thought up simpler things. like: why not have a box that can hook into a computer using a usb port... and then with computer softwear, assign certain sounds to certain buttons on the box. for instance. 1)first I would plug the usb thing into the PC. 2) then, I'd open up a pc program that could assign which music tracks would play when certain buttons are pressed,touched,or connected. 3) last, I'd have fun with the device preferably, all the data would be stored inside the usb drive along with the music samples. any Ideas? this is urgent! only 2 more weeks left in school!

Topic by mexx.admin    |  last reply

What makes an electric guitar sound like it is suppose to. Answered

I recently got an electric guitar and am trying to learn to play it. The problem is even when I run it through an amplifier it still sounds just like an acoustic guitar. I am not sure what I need to do to make it sound like an electric guitar. The amplifier I amusing is not desighned for an electric guitar it is just a small, general purpose amp that is powering a small five inch speaker. The guitar is a strat style. I am wondering if maybe normal electric guitar amps have a small synth in them to make it sound electric but am not sure. I would apreciate any help anyone can give me with this problem. Thanks.

Question by nurdee1    |  last reply


If you have a SONY product you're screwed. Especially SONY USB products for PC's. Drop the bomb on SONY and let them go OOB with a bang!!! Love your Playstation? Just hack the $#!+ out of it! SONY forfeited their DMCA rights. Stop brown-nosing SONY or you'll get computer-AIDS! They haven't learned their lesson. Search for SONY USB ROOTKIT and get as pi$$ed as me! SONY is the reason I haven't touched Windows since their first illegal megahack in 2005. They either owe me a fortune or I own their sorry @$$3$!!! (By default they acknowledge my Pandora's Box/Predictive Music Synth tech, since they did not choose to instead compensate me for actual damages by "SPECIFIC HARM MUSIC" ... which they did not acknowledge as Malware). I am not liable for this rant. I have first amendment rights and this is true.

Topic by VIRON    |  last reply

(newsletter) Cheap Fisheye Lens, Chocolate Mousse, Laser Guitar,...

Sign-up for this newsletter: Welcome back! We have two fantastic new contests starting this week!Show off your creative cardboard skills in the Gorilla Glue Cardboard Contest and win a huge package of Gorilla Glue gear!Cook up something tasty for the Low & Slow BBQ Contest and win a Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker, and autographed copies of the new Low & Slow BBQ book!Don't forget! We also three great contests ending soon, so enter now!Pocket-Sized Contest - Win a custom laser-etched Leatherman! Closes Sunday, July 19!Get in the Garden Contest - Win an awesome computer-controlled indoor composting machine from NatureMill! Closes for entries Sunday, July 19!Art of Sound Contest - Win an incredible custom hi-fi tower set with subwoofer, monster speakers, and more!! Closes for entries Sunday, July 26! Tic Tac Tunes 4-minute Chocolate Mousse $16 Fisheye Lens for a DSLR Harry Potter Guide Submit a cardboard creation and win a prize pack from Gorilla Glue! Cook up something tasty! Hands-Free Breast Pumping Sustainable Agriculture at Home Complex Shapes Made with Cardboard Etch PCBs in One Minute! Just over a week left! The Prism: A Laser Synth-Guitar Art of Sound Highlights Tiny Rechargeable Amplifier Free Yacht Chapter 12: Kiteboat! Just a few days left to win a custom laser-etched Leatherman! Enter now to win an indoor computer-controlled composter! How to Make a Snorricam Transfer Images with Acrylic Gel Medium Emergency Vehicle Escape Keychain Send Coded Messages Sign-up for this newsletter:

Topic by fungus amungus  

Gift exchange (Prodigity)

(I'm having difficulty posting this in the gift exchange, sorry if I miss-posted) Hi everyone, I'm looking forward to all the great gifts and 'ibles people are going to make =D I'm willing to make anything circuit board related, preferably digital i.e. analog. Though to see if I'm not getting over my head here I would like to hear what you would like to get if I were to make your gift. Thanks :) My skills include: Medium level of electrical engineering Here's a link to my featured Instructable: What I'd like to make for someone: ANYTHING circuit board related I'd be willing to make this size gift package for someone: Small, medium and large I'd be willing to receive a smaller or larger size gift package from someone than the one I make for someone else: Yes What I like: - Eco-friendly stuff (solar, wind, recycling, independent from net etc.) - Electric guitar stuff (e.g. Tape echo with cassette recorder, pedal, portable amp etc.) - Musical instrument (ranging from carrot ocarina to synth, pretty much all) - Lockpicks - Tools to help with soldering (Clamp, fume extractor, homemade liquid flux etc.) - Rain - Light (Lamp, wake-up light, visual feedback for email etc.) What I don't like: - Anything fragile (I like big, chunky and/or sturdy) - Fluorescent lamps I absolutely can't have: Fluorescent lamps Type of thing I'd love to receive: Anything from the 'What I like' list would be cool. Would you be willing to ship to an address outside your own country? Sure Confirm that are at least 18 years old or, if not, that you have the approval of a parent or guardian: Confirmed Let the DIY commence!

Topic by Prodigity  

Help with trying to make an Arduino-powered MIDI keyboard-controlled ferrofluid pattern-making exhibit!

Hi guys, apologies for the long title. As it says, I'm trying to create a science exhibit that best explains a scientific phenomenon, while being fun and user-friendly. In this case, electromagnetism. Essentially, I want to hook a MIDI keyboard to a USB host shield on a Duemilanove I have lying around. The arduino reads those inputs, and outputs a designated pattern or single pin current to some electromagnets strapped under a tank of ferrofluid. When someone comes by and plonks on the keyboard, pretty patterns SHOULD HOPEFULLY rise and fall in the tank. Attached is a diagram for easier explanation. I have a couple of issues, though. 1. The arduino coding, which I haven't started with. A quick google search returned a post from Circuits@Home, where Colin from MAKE uses a modified PS3 script to recognise USB MIDI inputs. This is my first real Arduino project. I've only tinkered with the I/O before this, nothing major. 2. A Duemilanove can only output 0.2 watts from a single pin (correct me if I'm wrong). Is this enough to drive a reasonably strong electromagnet? Are there some conditions I need to fulfil? Number of coils, materials for the core, etc. 3. I plan to make the ferrofluid with vegetable oil and toner. Will any old oil and toner do? Most websites come up with a specific variety, but that model usually isn't available in my area. I don't understand toner nomenclature at all lol. 4. Is it possible to wire/program the Arduino to allow a small speaker/synth to output sound, while having the current to power a set of electromagnets? I expect there to be about 12. That's all for now. I'll update if I make any discoveries/progress! Thanks so much!

Topic by cwong14    |  last reply

littleBits' #BITWARS Epic Fan Challenge

We're excited to announce this most epic fan challenge of all time.... Bit Wars! Starting today and ending on Dec. 19, we challenge you and your community to invent a new gadget for your favorite Star Wars character. Then film a video that either recreates or remixes your favorite scene, starring YOU and your new creation. GET ALL THE DETAILS IN THE CHALLENGE PAGE : STEP 1: Choose Your Path Select which challenge category you want to create an invention for. Multiple entries encouraged! Can’t decide? Close your eyes and use the Force. Category winners each get a Kit & special swag! Multiple entries encouraged! Geekiest Costume: Bitify your favorite character. Try a Synth Lord costume with its own soundtrack, or an O-Bit-wan Kenobi cape. Ultimate Droid: Bee-boop beep-boop. Invent your own droid inspired by your favorite robotic sidekick! Most Legit Lightsaber: Put your own spin on a lightsaber and create a more elegant weapon for a more civilized age. Award-Winning Film: Step into the story! Film an original Star Wars storyline or recreate your favorite scene. STEP 2: Invent a Gadget Create a new accessory for your favorite character to conquer the galaxy with. Check out some entries from the community for bitspiration. How To Make Star Wars BB8 Droid by Marjan Atanasovski Yoda lifts the X-wing by Braden Irish Luke’s Sidewinder by Tom Balzamo R2D2 BitRobot by Diego Thurler STEP 3: Make a Video Give George Lucas a run for his money! Step into the story and tell it a new way (keep it PG please). We have prepared some pro tips to create your film, check out our blog post. STEP 4: Share Your Masterpiece Enter by uploading your creation to the Invent page including a youtube video and using #BitWars. DEADLINE IS December 19 at midnight EST. STEP 5: Join the Global Makeathon Make alone you need not. From December 11-13, join a Global Makeathon event at Chapters in over 100 cities, from NYC to Beijing and across the DagoBit System. Or host your own :) We've compiled a Resource Guide to help you navigate this workshop like the Millennium Falcon in an astroid field. May the bits be with you.

Topic by liza.stark  

Field report: Mads Hobye as an Artist-in-residence at Instructables

Mads Hobye was granted an artist-in-residence at Instructables for September 2012. Instructables is a web-based documentation platform where passionate people share projects they do, and how to do it. Because of the creative nature of the website, Instructables also have lab facilities for their own co-workers and for artist-in-residences. During September, Mads had the honor to use their lab to build and document multiple prototypes to be shared on their website. I choose to put my focus on building interactive noise machines, since this ties into my PhD and my interest in creating non-trivial internal complexity. I have been working long into the night most days and it has been really interesting to have the chance to focus on one thing at the time. Although the primary purpose of the stay was to explore the potentials of designing interactive sound machines, a couple of other side outcomes were also planned. First, to see how Instructables organized their creative workspace and get inspiration for organizing the upcoming Connectivity Lab at Medea. Second, to see if Instructables would be a suitable platform for documenting the creative practices at Medea. Take aways from Instructables as a creative workspace Although Instructables primarily is a company running a website, they have quite extensive lab facilities. This consisted of a small lab at the office (sewing, electronics and woodwork) and two blocks down they had a whole space filled with laser cutters and 3D printers. This is located right beside the Techshop, which is a full-fledged lab for everything from metal to 3D printing. I have picked up the following things that struck me as really good ways of structuring lab work: Documentation table: A documentation table with lamps, camera and a white sheet of paper as background enables people to quickly document their projects with a nice white background. It was interesting to see how this improved the overall quality of the documentation. Suddenly a breadboard and some wires became a piece of art or a pedagogical platform for show and tell instead of an unfinished project. Show-and-tell meetings: Twice a week they meet at two o'clock to do a show and tell. Here they take a round and everyone says what they are working on in one or two sentences. This is a really easy way to get everyone updated and it takes no time at all. If you are not present you can email out one sentence telling everyone what you are doing. Once a week it is about the specific day and once a week it is about the coming week. Have everything in the same lab: The separation between the labs has confirmed to me the importance of having everything in the same space. It takes time to walk two blocks to lasercut which limits the creative process of iterating between e.g. lasercutting and soldering. Instructables as a workspace was one of the most easy going creative loving workspaces I have ever had the chance to be a part of. Although I never got to know the formal rules, you had a clear sense that people had the freedom to prioritise their own work day and combine it with creative side projects (as long as they documented them of course). Instructables as a knowledge sharing platform for the Medea Connectivity lab Instructables works well for sharing individual recipes for others to use, but what came as a surprise to me was the ability to create groups as individually branded websites. This enables a group of people to collect their recipes under a common theme or brand. We will use this as a common platform to share the knowledge created in the Medea Connectivity Lab. This way people can get an overview of the projects done in the lab. This will become a mandatory part of using the lab in the sense that students and co-workers will be encouraged to document their projects and publish them in the group. So far my experience with posting instructables has been quite interesting and overwhelming. Where projects normally ends as interesting portfolio documentation, the detailed documentation of the build process enables others to recreate your designs or their own versions of them. So far this has resulted in multiple people making their own version. One example is the Arduino implementation of the touche shield ( This was published in May 2012. As of now, I know of ten people who have recreated the design and just as many has made suggestions for improvement. Another project has been rewritten by an enthusiast in Dubai. It now runs faster and uses less memory. You can find the preliminary group for Medea connectivity lab here. Non-trivial-internal Complexity as facilitator for curiosity = making noise machines As a part of being an artist-in-residence at Instructables, I took it upon myself to build of couple of noise machines / music boxes. My interest was in designing objects that would enable people to explore the world of sound synthesis and for me to get a better understanding of how the different interfaces enables different interactions and sound qualities. This is a part of an ongoing investigation on creating interactions for curiosity. It has been an intense experience. Trying to build as many interfaces as possible within one month. I have tried to make all of them stand-out as finished, while still being hackable pieces. Everything I have done is published on Instructables for others to experiment with. All of the projects consist of a few basic components: An interface and sometimes a screen or a led matrix. The basic sound component is either a Gameduino or a software synth written for the Arduino platform. You can find an overview of the results here and I will introduce them in this article as well. Although arduinos are good for simple action <-> reaction interactivity, there are a limited amount of examples that work with more complex interactions. Here I mean beyond game design’s way of working with narratives, but more in the sense of adding personality to your projects. Personality not as much in the way of looks (e.g. putting an Arduino into a teddy bear), but more in the way of complex interactions that makes you curious about its devices potential possibilities. My interest as an artist-in-residence at Instructables were to design different machines that would spark the user’s curiosity. Here, simply put, curiosity lies between the extremes of chaos and predictability. Where chaos becomes uninteresting (from an interaction design point of view) because of its uncontrollable nature and order becomes so predictable that the interaction itself slides into the background of the end-product of the interaction itself. One such example is the light switch. As an adult you usually do not notice your interaction with it. The core question then became how to make people who are interacting with it drawn by their own curiosity of not being able to decode the interaction pattern, all at the same time having a sense that their actions are the main contributor to the sounds. Most of these machines would have been simpler to make as software programs on a computer or even as multitouch applications on a smartphone, but I wanted to have an aesthetic criteria as a frame for my experiments: I wanted to create simple tangible interfaces that would inspire curiosity. The objects themselves should welcome the user to try out and explore their interfaces. Last, I wanted each experiment to be self-contained. Instead of them becoming interfaces for a laptop, they should be the ones who created the music. The end results are still crude and mostly serves as interaction enclosures with future potentials, although they do hint at different interesting interaction qualities. You can find an overview of the boxes here. The singing plant plays with a classic trick of sparking people’s curiosity by adding unconventional interaction qualities to a familiar object. The Kaosduino serves as a platform to explore the complexity of touch on x-y surfaces. The Matrix machine serves as a platform to explore the potential of emergent sound patterns converted from particle systems. The algorithmic noise machine serves as platform to explore the boundaries between chaos and order through complex bit shifting algorithms. Better ways to debug the internals of the Arduino board As a side project, I decided to improve on the debugging capabilities of the Arduino platform. This was in line with working with internal complexity which can be hard to comprehend as the code grows. The program enables you to visualize realtime data on the Arduino board. You are usually stuck with the standard serial output. As the complexity of your Arduino code grows, this makes it impossible to comprehend what is actually going on inside the board. To solve this I have created a little library that will enable you to create your own custom GUI for your Arduino projects. Watch this video to get a demonstration of a basic hello world with a potmeter and a diode: The following are a few key features of the tool: Custom design your interface from the Arduino board: You define which sliders, graphs and buttons you need for your interface. You do this in your Arduino sketch which means that the GUI program acts as a slave to the sketch. All information is stored in your board. Visualize and manipulate realtime data: Whether you are making an RGB light controller or a robot arm, getting a graphical feedback is crucial to understand what is going on inside the board. This enables you to understand whether it is your hardware or the code that is causing problem. Further, the sliders and buttons enable you to tweak the individual parameters in realtime. This way you can see what effect different thresholds have on the interaction. Use the same app for all your Arduino projects: I have made tons of small apps for different projects. My problem is always to find them again a year later. Because we save everything in the Arduino, I only need to keep one app around the Arduino and it will automatically configure the app for the current project. Prototype the interface before you turn on the soldering iron: Because you can design the GUI as you like it (within reasonable limits), you can prototype the interface before you have made a physical interface. This also enables you to divide the tasks between multiple people, e.g. one person is working on the hardware and another person is working on the code. When you have made the physical interface the Guino will integrate seamlessly. You can find the instructables for the Guino interface here. About the author Mads Hobye (b. 1980) is a PhD student in interaction design at Medea Collaborative Media Initiative, Malmö University, Sweden, and co-founder of the Illutron collaborative interactive art studio. He focuses on how digital material can be used for exploring social transformative play situated in the context of everyday life. He has done several large-scale installations and working prototypes, which he is using as a basis for his PhD research. More information is available on Hobye’s work at

Topic by madshobye