Tag Archives: Bare Conductive

Rewind: 27 STEM kits from 2015

These STEM toys from 2015 are helping to inspire the next generation of Makers.

STEM education has been a growing venture in schools across the country, with even the President himself making it a priority to encourage students as young as grade-school to pursue the science, technology, engineering and math disciplines. After all, these fields are changing the world rapidly within the areas of innovation, economic growth and employment. But let’s face it; these subjects don’t come easy to everyone, so how do we instill STEM in kids?

With this in mind, many startups have sought out new and exciting ways to entice the younger generation to explore their creativity and develop an interest in hands-on learning. Testament to that, here are several products from 2015 looking to inspire the next generation of Makers.

littleBits Gizmos & Gadgets


The Gizmos & Gadgets Kit is the ultimate invention toolbox, complete with motors, wheels, lights , switches, servos, buzzers and even the tools to build a remote control.



Jewelbots are programmable friendship bracelets that teach girls the basics of coding.



Thimble is a monthly subscription service that delivers fun electronic projects with guided tutorials and a helpful community.

Touch Board Starter Kit


Bare Conductive’s Touch Board Starter Kit contains everything you need to transform surfaces, objects or spaces into sensors.

Makey Makey GO


Small enough to fit on your keychain, backpack or bracelet, Makey Makey GO turns everyday objects into touchpads and combines them with the Internet. Say hello to the world’s first invention kit.



RePhone from Seeed Studio allows Makers to create a phone themselves in minutes and hack a new way to communicate with things.



mBot is an all-in-one, Arduino-compatible robot that supports wireless communication and employs Scratch 2.0-like coding.



Ringo is a miniature digital pet robot equipped with an accelerometer, a gyrosocope, six RGB LEDs, as well as sound and communication sensors.



Wink is an Arduino-driven robot designed to help transition students from graphical programming to more powerful written code languages. It’s also the sibling of the aforementioned Ringo.



Kano is a computer and coding kit for all ages that’s as simple as LEGO, powered by Raspberry Pi.

Primo Cubetto


Primo Cubetto is a smart wooden robot designed to teach kids the basics of coding away from the screen.



Petduino puts a DIY twist on the old-school Tamagotchi.



STEMI is a hexapod that can be built right at home and controlled via smartphone.



mCookies are quarter-sized, stackable modules from Microduino that enable young Makers to bring their LEGO projects to life.



Modulo is a set of tiny modular circuit boards that takes the hassle out of electronics.

The Crafty Robot


The Crafty Robot is a paper toy unlike any other — plug it into a USB port for 30 seconds, unplug it and you’ve got a moving robot.



Kamigami is an origami-style robot you can construct and program by yourself. Each one can be configured with a unique set of behaviors and characteristics through a drag-and-drop interface.



Phiro is a LEGO-compatible robotics toy that children can play with, code and innovate in various ways.



With Quirkbot, young Makers can devise and configure quirky robots (hence its name), blinking outfits and weird sounding creatures out of regular drinking straws.



Cannybots are LEGO-compatible, smart toy cars that introduce kids to the worlds of robotics, programming and 3D printing.



3DRacers is a Mario Kart-like indoor racing game that lets anyone design and 3D print their own car.

Volta Flyer


Volta Flyer is the world’s first DIY airplane kit that is solely powered by the sun.



Roby is a 3D-printed robotic machine that not only drives on four wheels, but can walk on two. If it falls, it can even pick itself up again with its pair of arms.

O Watch


O Watch is a DIY smartwatch for a kid, by a kid.



LocoRobo is a cute, inexpensive robot capable of being wirelessly programmed.



KamiBot is a programmable, smartphone-controlled paper robot.

Pixel Pals


Pixel Pals are easy-to-build, fun educational kits that grow from a project to a friend you can program.

Fiat Lux


Fiat Lux is an Arduino-compatible kit specifically designed for unique wearable projects.



AZIBOt is an open source, 3D-printed robot kit for STEM education in Africa.

Are conductive temporary tattoos the future of wearables?

Time to get skintimate with Tech Tats.

Although there’s already an abundance of activity monitoring wearables on the market today, mobile development studio Chaotic Moon is exploring a new frontier in the industry. The Austin-based firm has decided to go beyond just a fitness tracker with a collection of biosensors that affix to your skin like a temporary tattoo.


In one of its uses cases, the aptly named Tech Tats consist of an ATiny85 that stores and receives body data from sensors via Bare Conductive’s Electric Paint. This combination of basic components and conductive ink come together to create a circuit that essentially turns you in a cyborg. There’s even some room for an ambient light sensor that illuminates LEDs whenever it’s dark. And unlike most wellness devices, the temporary tattoo can be worn in other places than merely the wrist — all while remaining unnoticeable. 

Tech Tats boast various applications, with health and mobile payments being two of them. For one, the biosensors can be stuck on the skin once a year instead of having to go for an annual physical, and will keep tabs on all of your vitals that the doctor would normally check for. The information can then be sent to the doctor, who will notify you only if there is an issue. This can also come in handy following surgery to better keep tabs on a patient’s progress.

According to Chaotic Moon, the temporary tattoo can read body temperature as well as sense if someone is stressed based on sweat, heart rate and hydration levels. Throw on a BLE module and data can be wirelessly transferred to an accompanying smartphone app, or uploaded through location-based low-frequency mesh networks.


Not only the medical field, but Tech Tats can find a home in banking industry, too. Instead of carrying a wallet around with all of your most personal information in your back pocket, these conductive patches can be employed to authorize payments in similar fashion to Apple Pay.

Aside from that, Chaotic Moon’s bio-wearable can even play a role in the military setting by detecting poisons in the air, pathogens in a soldier’s body or identifying when they’re injured or stressed.

Could temporary tattoos be the future of wearable technology? Time will only tell. But until then, you can watch Chaotic Moon explain their innovation in the video below!


Creating screen printed, flexible MIDI controllers with Bare Conductive

EJtech has developed an experimental textile that could serve as an interface for sonic interactions.

Esteban de la Torre and Judit Kárpáti, who together make up Budapest art and tech lab EJtech, have made a name for themselves in exploring the intersection between sound and textiles. You may recall one of their earlier works, Chromosonic, a chameleon-like material that could sense its surroundings and change color based on temperature and sound. Now, they resurfaced with their latest concept for an experimental textile that could serve as an interface for sonic interactions.


As its name would suggest, Liquid MIDI is essentially a flexible MIDI controller screen printed onto a piece fabric. The controller is comprised of Bare Conductive Electric Paint on the material, which is connected via alligator clips to an Arduino Mega ADK (ATmega2560) that communicates with Max MSP and Ableton Live software. Though, the Arduino could easily be swapped out for a Touch Board (ATmega32U4).

The result is a textile that plays MIDI notes whenever touched. This, of course, allows for a multi-sensory experience where the fabric itself  becomes part of the overall message.


“Our main focus is researching human computer interaction. Plus a bit beyond this, we love investigating the idea of how, while vision distances and separates us from the world surrounding us, the rest of the senses unite us to it, and the repercussions of this integration is a more coherent perception of reality,” the duo tells Bare Conductive. “Man has not always been dominated by vision, but for this piece we had a strong graphical vision, and wanted to build a sort of post-internet object. As counterintuitive as it may seem, the digital is constantly gaining ground in the physical world.”

Interested? Check out EJtech’s project page here, or see it in action below!

Artist creates interactive paintings with Bare Conductive

This Denver-based innovator is bringing art to life with an audible, tactile and visual experience.

Step into any gallery and you can expect to find “Do Not Touch” signs plastered everywhere. What this means is that, in most cases, the piece of art stimulates only one of the five human senses. However, a Denver-based originator has set out to change that by providing viewers with an audible, tactile and visual experience as they glance at the imagery before them.

Thomas “Detour” Evans is not your typical artist, nor has ever aspired to be. In his recent collection dubbed Art and Decibels, the 30-year-old creator has devised a series of interactive, sensor-laden paintings that are specifically meant to be touched in designated spots. By doing so, the image is magically brought to life through sound.


“This collection features the evolution of how I perceive art in the 21th century. With music as the foundation, It’s not enough for me to just use conventional methods; it’s empirical that I bring in other amazing artist of various forms to bring pieces alive,” Detour writes.

Upon first glance, Detour’s pieces appear to be meticulously crafted portraits of popular hip-hop stars, ranging from Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac to Nas and Kendrick Lamar. However, beneath the canvas of each image lies a unique combination of electronics and conductive ink. The artist has employed Bare Conductive’s Electric Paint along with a few Touch Boards (ATmega32U4) to enable each still-life to seamlessly double as an actual MIDI controller.


This gives audience members a dynamic way to interact with the painting and truly connect with the subject matter laid out on the canvas. Unlike countless other forms of wall-mounted art, Detour explains that viewers are now able to become fully immersed, both mentally and physically.

In order to bring this next-gen creations to life, Detour team up with several his close friends and veteran musicians to ensure the proper design of every painting so that they could play music and be manipulated like an instrument. This concept is something Detour has been brainstorming for years.

“In 2009 I became infatuated with figuring out how to connect the viewer with the subject on the canvas… I mulled over the idea of deconstructing and reconstructing a MIDI controller and installing it. Unfortunately the technology and the canvas didn’t mesh well. It wasn’t until I stumbled across the Bare Conductive Kickstarter that I saw some of the potential with the Touch Board. When I got the package and took the Electric Paint and Touch Board to one of my DJ/producer friends, it became the start of a long process to create these interactive paintings,” the artist revealed in his latest interview with Bare Conductive.


The creative process, which he has elaborated upon in a tutorial over on SparkFun, includes wiring the back of the canvas so that the sensors are emerging through the front in various locations. These sensors are connected to a computer and act as triggers in such a way that, when tapped, they emit a sound. Generally, every painting features around a dozen or touch points, each delivering a unique tune. Once the electronics are embedded, Detour paints his masterpiece just as he would any other portrait. Cognizant of where the sensors are located, he envisions how a particular piece needs to be manipulated — whether that’s using the outline of a milk crate as a matrix MIDI soundboard or lines on a t-shirt as a keyboard.

“I use the Touch Board in two different ways – one is the mode that is installed when it’s shipped. These pieces are usually combined with a bunch of other electronics that allows it to be a touch boom box painting with speakers,” Detour explains. “The other way is with the MIDI mode turned on and hooking it up to a computer. This way is the real ground breaker because it allows me to collaborate with friends and to have performance on each piece. It’s setup more like an instrument.”

Pretty sweet, right? Head over to Detour’s official page to learn more, as well as get started on creating a musical masterpiece of your own here.

Creating a capacitive iPad cover with Bare Conductive

INKO is part capacitive cover, part keyboard and a whole lot of awesome. 

If you’re the owner of an iPad and have long been searching for a cover that offered a bit more functionality, you’re in luck. Designed by Alexandre Echasseriau, INKO is both a capacitive cover and a keyboard. The device is comprised of conductive paint injected into a leather sleeve that is capable of transmitting a signal from the keyboard to the iPad via a mini Bluetooth antenna.


Unveiled earlier this spring at the 2015 Saint Etienne Biennale, INKO combines fine leather craftsmanship along with Bare Conductive’s Electric Paint and Touch Board (ATmega32U4) to transform an ordinary protective shield into a working touchpad. The idea was first conceived as a way to incorporate a printed circuit board within the hide in order to establish an electrical connection that could relay a signal to its accompanying mobile device.


Initially, tattoo artist Jéremy Lorenzato was tasked with injecting the Electric Paint into the thickness of the material. However, after determining that manually inking the hide was not suitable for the project, the process was eventually replaced by a system dubbed “Tatoué,” the brainchild of French design group Appropriate Audiences. (You may recall the team and their hacked machine from last year.) The Maker trio had modded a MakerBot Replicator to create an automated tattoo “printer” that could etch permanent artwork on human skin, and now leather as well.

Meanwhile, the actual shape of the cover/keyboard was formed in a matter of just one step by leather worker David Rosenblum by employing an embossing technique to achieve that “keystroke” feel.


“I really wanted to explore the potential of Electric Paint. Tattooing the paint rather than screen printing or painting opened up an opportunity to create a sustainable and robust PCB circuit,” Echasseriau told Bare Conductive in a recent interview. “The luck was that after a little dilution, the paint could be perfectly tattooed and conducts very well.”

Intrigued? Head over to INKO’s official page here.

Bare Conductive introduces its Touch Board Starter Kit

Bare Conductive’s Touch Board Starter Kit hits the MoMA Design Store.

You may have noticed that our good friends at Bare Conductive were absent from their usual spot within the Atmel Maker Faire booth, and with good reason. That’s because they were busy in New York City for the launch of their brand-spanking new Touch Board Starter Kit at the MoMA Design Store.


The all-in-one DIY box contains everything a Maker could possibly need to begin transforming things within their environment into touch sensors. The plug-and-play Starter Kit is comprised of an ATmega32U4 based Touch Board, some Electric Paint, other essential components like a microSD card, a USB cable and alligator clips, as well as a growing range of tutorials, visual guides and examples.


What’s nice is that the MCU comes preprogrammed to trigger MP3 tracks, something that will be ideal for absolute beginners and young Makers as they explore one of three featured projects: interactive wall graphics, voice-activated objects and motion-detecting alarms.

Intrigued? Head over to Bare Conductive’s official page to get started.

12 projects that are redefining storytelling

In honor of World Book Day, here are some Maker innovations that are redefining storytelling…

They say stories can come to life, and well, these projects have taken that saying to an entirely new level.

This isn’t your typical coffee table book


Jonathan Zufi’s coffee table book entitled “ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation is the ultimate must-have for any Apple aficionado. The hardcover recounts the past 30 years of Apple design, exploring some of the most visually appealing and significant products ever created by the Cupertino-based company. The commemorative piece features a special white clamshell case along with a custom PCB configured to pulse embedded LEDs — like that of a sleeping older generation Apple notebook when moved — controlled by an Atmel 8-bit AVR RISC-based MCU.

This magical device will add augmented reality to storybooks 


The brainchild of Disney Research, HideOut explores how mobile projectors can enable new forms of interaction with digital content projected on everyday objects such as books, walls, game boards, tables, and many others. The smartphone-sized device enables seamless interaction between the digital and physical world using specially formulated infrared-absorbing markers – hidden from the human eye, but visible to a camera embedded in a compact mobile projection device. Digital imagery directly augments and responds to the physical objects it is projected on, such as an animated character interacting with printed graphics in a storybook.

This interactive piece of art tells a narrative


Created by Fabio Lattanzi Antinori, Dataflags is a narrative series of artwork that explores the financial troubles of corporations as they head towards bankruptcy, while highlighting the pivotal role data plays in today’s society. The piece — which was originally displayed in London’s Victoria & Albert Museum back in September 2014 — was powered by Bare Conductive’s incredibly-popular Touch Board (ATmega32U4) and some Electric Paint. The printed sensors were concealed by a layer of black ink, and when touched, triggered a selection of financial trading data theatrically sung by an opera performer.

This book judges you with its cover


Have you ever judged a book by its cover? Well, Amsterdam creative studio Moore is turning the tables on the old-school idiom by designing a sleeve equipped with an integrated camera and facial-recognition technology that scans the face of whoever comes near. The idea behind the aptly named Cover That Judges You was to build a book cover that is human and approachable-hi-tech. If someone conveys too much emotion – whether overexcitement or under-enthusiasm — the book will remain locked. However, if their expression is free of judgement, the system will send an audio-pulse to an Arduino Uno (ATmega328) and the book will unlock itself. The built-in camera is positioned at the top of the book’s sleeve, above a screen that feeds back the image when it detects a face in close proximity. Artwork featuring abstract facial features is displayed on the cover so that the user can line up their eyes, nose and mouth in the optimum position. Once the correct alignment is obtained, the screen turns green and a signal is relayed to the Arduino that opens the metal lock.

This interactive book lets you feel characters’ emotions


A team of MIT students unveiled a wearable book that uses networked sensors and actuators to create a sort of cyberpunk-like Neverending Story, blurring the line between the bodies of a reader and protagonist. The sensory fiction project — which built around James Tiptree’s “The Girl Who Was Plugged In” – was designed by Felix Heibeck, Alexis Hope, Julie Legault and Sophia Brueckner in the context of MIT’s Science Fiction To Science Fabrication class. The “augmented book” portrays the scenery and sets the mood, while its companion vest enables the reader to experience the protagonist’s physiological emotions unlike ever before. The wearable — controlled by an [Atmel based] Arduino board — swells, contracts, vibrates, heats up or cools down as the pages of the book are turned. Aside from 150 programmable LEDs to create ambient light based on changing setting and mood, the book/wearable support a number of outputs, including sound, a personal heating device to change skin temperature, vibration to influence heart rate, and a compression system to convey tightness or loosening through pressurized airbags.

This storytelling tree reads with you


In an effort to bring more interaction to story time, Northwood’s Childrens Museum in Wisconsin created a storytelling tree capable of reading along with you. The old computers inside the the museum display were retrofitted with a Touch Board (ATmega32U4) from Bare Conductive. In fact, this was a welcomed replacement as one staff member said that the computers “broke constantly and hogged power, keeping us from updating sounds files periodically throughout the year.”  Unlike its embedded predecessor, the MCU allowed sound files to be changed in an expedited manner, and was slim enough to nestle neatly into the trunk’s design. And what would a treehouse-like exhibit be without a makeshift walkie talkie comprised of cans strung together? Creatively, a set of headphones were also placed inside the can to make it exciting for participants to listen to the story.

This book blends the analog and digital worlds


Makers Israel Diaz and Ingrid Ocana were on a mission to find new ways to bring children closer to the vast universe of reading. In doing so, the duo figured out a new way to enhance a traditional book with basic electronic components and some Arduino Uno (ATmega328) programming to interact with user intervention through simple built-in sensors, AC motors, LEDs and speakers.

This tale is told with the turn of a music box handle


Night Sun is an interactive audiovisual installation which tells a story with the turn of a music box handle, powered by an ATmega32U4 MCU. In order to bring his idea to fruition, the Maker commissioned an Arduino Micro to control the exhibit. The Arduino was instructed to send a ‘play’ command to a computer when it sensed the touch of a passerby. Once the wired music box handle was turned, the window would light up. A pre-recorded sound would then send a signal to the computer and begin playing… and just like that, the story unfolds.

This pop-up book is made for the digital age 


A Maker by the name of Antonella Nonnis recently devised a unique interactive electronic book powered by two ATmega168 based boards. The book, titled “Music, Math, Art and Science,” was inspired by the work of Munari, Montessori and Antonella’s very own mother. The book contains movable parts and uses the electrical capacitance of the human body to activate sounds and lights and other sensors like a button for the math page. Comprised of recycled materials, the book is powered by a pair of Arduino Diecimila, which control the paper pop-up piano and the other controls the arts and science page.

These soft puppets are recreating fables for kids and parents


Footprints – which was prototyped using an Arduino Uno (ATmega328) – can best be described as a network of interactive soft puppets that help create and share illustrated stories. Designed by Simone Capano, the project links various aspects of a child’s life, including school and family, by collecting and storing relevant data in the cloud. Footprints is typically initiated by a parent. Using a smartphone, the parent can record a little vocal story, add some images proposed by Footprints about the story that was just told, like the story’s characters or other objects related to it. Afterwards, the parent can send it all to the child’s puppet. The child can then listen to the story by placing the puppet on the tablet and playing with the images he or she has received to create a drawing about the story. Once the drawing is complete, Footprints send it back to the parent who then tracks the path of the stories shared with a child via the smartphone app.

This book really sets the scene


Created by Bertrand Lanthiez, Hvísl is described as “an invitation to both a visual and audible journey.” Pre-recorded sounds from Icelandic atmospheres are emitted with the help of electronic sensors hidden in some pages connected to a MaKey MaKey board (ATmega32U4). These effects accompany the reading and the contemplation of pictures from the country’s landscape.

This bookmark makes sure you never miss a part


Tired of having to reread pages in because you forgot which paragraph you left off on? Devised by 7Electrons, the aptly named eBookmark is envisioned to serve as a bridge between analog and digital worlds. The device — which is based on an 8-bit AVR MCU, various Adafruit components, 16 tiny LEDs and a resistive touch strip — allows the reader to save his or her place on the page, and with a switch, also select the left or right page. The top portion of the eBookmark extends for use with larger books.

This fiction machines lets you create your own narrative


Who could forget those ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ books that became popular in the ‘80s and ‘90s? The series of children’s gamebooks where each story is written from a second-person point of view, with the reader assuming the role of the protagonist and making choices that determine the main character’s actions and the plot’s outcome. Similarly speaking, software developer Jerry Belich has created an interactive arcade machine that works on the same premise. The Choosatron is an interactive fiction machine that lets users select the story, while it prints out a transcript of the chosen story paths. In essence, the machine is a cardboard box with a small thermal printer, a coin acceptor, a keypad, an SD memory card and an Arduino-compatible board.

Bare Conductive’s Touch Board is bringing stories to life

Isn’t reading much more fun when it’s interactive? 

Who remembers the 2008 flick Bedtime Stories starring Adam Sandler? The movie centered around a hotel handyman, whose life changes when the lavish nighttime tales he tells his niece and nephew start to magically come true. And while literally bringing fantasy to life may be impossible, Bare Conductive is helping to enable the next best thing with its Touch Board (ATmega32U4) with a pair of recent exhibits.


First, Dataflags is a narrative series of artwork created by Fabio Lattanzi Antinori that explores the financial troubles of corporations as they head towards bankruptcy, while highlighting the pivotal role data plays in today’s society. The piece, which was originally displayed in London’s Victoria & Albert Museum back in September 2014, was brought to life through Bare Conductive’s incredibly-popular ATmega32U4 MCU Touch Board and some Electric Paint. The printed sensors were concealed by a layer of black ink, and when touched, triggered a selection of financial trading data theatrically sung by an opera performer.


“Dataflags is a series of works I am creating that deal with the notion of failing; they represent fragile corporate flags that celebrate the ups and downs of those corporations that were thought to be invincible but went bankrupt. Lehman Brothers, in this context, made up for a very good candidate, yet there are others which will be explored in the next artworks,” Antinori told Bare Conductive.

In order to program the Touch Board to announce various sets of numbers each time the sensors were touched, a series of voices were prerecorded ahead of time. The code then reassembled each sample in real-time depending on the set of figures that corresponded to the daily history of the company’s share prices.


Similar to a number of other forms of art which require engagement from a participating audience, the ATmega32U4 based board would only trigger sound when a passerby interacted with the exhibit. “One could say that there would be no work at all without the intervention of the public, which is a continuation of the metaphorical aspect of the piece,” Antinori added.The flags themselves were comprised of somerset paper, as it “preserved a sense of heritage to which we all relate.” According to the Maker, it was the perfect material to represent a flag, given that it appears solid and eternal, yet it fragile and ephemeral, especially when it is meant to be touched by hundreds of people.

Next, The Northwood’s Childrens Museum in Wisconsin recently created a storytelling tree capable of reading along with you. The old computers inside the the museum display were retrofitted with an ATmega32U4 based board. In fact, this was a welcomed replacement as one staff member said that the computers “broke constantly and hogged power, keeping us from updating sounds files periodically throughout the year.”


Unlike its embedded predecessor, the Touch Board allowed sound files to be changed in an expedited manner, and was slim enough to nestle neatly into the trunk’s design. And what would a treehouse-like exhibit be without a makeshift walkie talkie comprised of cans strung together? Creatively, a set of headphones were also placed inside the can to make it exciting for participants to listen to the story.


As previously explored on Bits & Pieces and seen inside Atmel Maker Faire booths around the world, Bare Conductive continues to inspire and enable Makers to transform touch into sound in countless ways. We can only imagine what Makers will think of next! Interested in learning more? You can head over to the team’s official page here.

Rewind: 30 Maker musical masterpieces from 2014

There’s music making and then there’s making music. From gloves that play tunes to modded printers that blare songs, Makers have proven that just about anything — and we mean everything — can be transformed into sound. And well, as you can tell from our #ThrowbackThursday chippy takes on ‘90s hits, we love music.

Not to mention, a number of musicians have even become advocates of the burgeoning Maker Movement as of late, most notably Sir Mix-A-Lot and will.i.am. For one, the technophile founder of The Black Eyed Peas has offered a ringing endorsement of the DIY culture, recently emphasizing that, “Every young person is going to be inspired to be a Maker from now on. It’s like how everyone used to want to be a musician, an actor, an athlete — but a maker is what people are going to want to be.”

With 2014 coming to a close, we’ve decided to list some of our most favorite and quite impressive musical masterpieces from the last 12 months.

A poncho that literally will help you sing in the rain


Carnegie Mellon student Liana Kong recently designed a DIY musical rain poncho using an Arduino Uno (ATmega328), FM tuner and flexible speaker. The poncho is capable of controlling the radio in a number of ways, including: hood up/down – power, colorful snaps – different station presets and hood strings – volume.

This obsolete typewriter plays some sweet music


Maker duo Lasse Munk and Søren Andreasen have created a musical typewriter that transforms ordinary sentences into sound. 

Known as D.O.R.T.H.E (short for Danish Orchestra of Radios Talking and Hacked Engines), the platform is constructed out of old, discarded electronics. In essence,the hacked platform can be thought of as an electronic music box — with each word acting as a pin to create a sound or tone. Every letter on the typewriter is essentially a trigger, as these letters are connected to an Arduino Mega (ATmega1280). The data is then analyzed, where the software then processes and translates it into a musical sequence. More specifically, D.O.R.T.H.E. transforms the number of letters in a word to a certain music pitch, although it is also capable of dealing with basic emotional states such as joy, discomfort, fear and happiness.

Turning chicken nuggets and sushi into music


While dipping a chicken nugget into sauce or touching sushi may not be the most conventional way to create music, if there is one thing that the ATmega32U4 MCU based MaKey MaKey has taught us, is that nearly anything can be transformed into a MIDI trigger. This includes the tops of cats’ heads, plastic mannequin parts, cacti, rubber finger monsters, and old-school Polaroid cameras, as demonstrated by musician Mark Redito (also known as Spazzkid).  While one would assume that jamming away on some raw fish or dunking a piece of chicken into sweet ’n sour sauce may not produce the most desirable sounds, this performance is anything but.

Piano hack adds another dimension


A modder by the name of Capricorn1 has added a rockin’ visual dimension to his already impressive musical skills by using a piano’s MIDI output to drive Edison bulbs. Capricorn1 hung the bulbs from a rod of electrical conduit pipe, while threading the wires to a DB25 connector. The lights were controlled by an Arduino Mega (ATmega1280), along with a custom shield and optocoupler to handle zero cross detection.

Cathedral-like sounds packed into a toaster-sized device


Although it may sound like a pipe organ from St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Maker Matthew Steinke has packed all of those tunes into a 4”x13”x14” MIDI-controlled, portable device. Instead of using pipes and a wind chest typically found in cathedral-esque organs, the toaster-sized device utilizes a combination of electromagnets and steel tines. Impressively, the Tine Organ is capable of producing 20 chromatic notes in full polyphony, starting at middle C, and can be attached to a standard keyboard or a synthesizer smartphone app. An [Atmel based] Arduino unit housed inside the device receives the MIDI input that controls 20 polyphonic software oscillators, which is then sent though a trio of Darlington drivers to the magnets.

 A wearable machine turns tattoos into music


Moscow-based artist Dmitry Morozov — also known by many as ::vtol:: — has created a unique sound controller to read musical scores implanted in tattoos. The scanning instrument is comprised of a metal railing, hand controllers and parallel black line sensors that move along the arm using a stepper motor. In addition, it is equipped with a Nintendo Wii remote control and an Open Sound Control to enhance the sound possibilities. A stepper motor guides the device along the inked lines, while the length of each bar coincides with the duration of an emitted sound. On the hardware side, key features of the musical creation include an Arduino Nano (ATmega328), a Nord Modular G2, a Symbolic Sound Kyma X, and a six-channel PVC pipe sound system.

Obsolete computer parts turned into marvelous music


A group of Illinois-based Makers hailing from Makerspace Urbana have unveiled a way to take outdated technology and turn them into pieces of musical instruments. The Electric Waste Orchestra project strives to “manipulate the voltage flowing through circuit boards and use those signals to make music” out of components that would’ve otherwise ended up at the dump. The team transformed an old keyboard number pad, six hard-drives, an [Atmel based] Arduino board and some software into a fully-functioning guitar jamming along with a modular synthesizer.

 A series of stepper motors belt out some Guns N’ Roses


Sweet Stepper of Mine! Jeremy Weatherford repurposed two stepper motors to play high-tech versions of some of the classics and you have to hear it to believe it. At the core of the Maker’s device sits an Iteaduino MEGA 2560 (ATmega2560) and a series of percussion linkages.

Coffee cups and Arduino unite to make an instrument


Bonnie Eisenman needed to produce a final project for her electronic music class. So, as a software engineer by trade, the Maker decided to explore her creative side and just like that, the Illumaphone was born. The Illumaphone is a light-based spatial musical instrument that be played by simply waving your arms. Six coffee cups serve as the inputs (aka “light funnels”), with each one keyed to a different pitch. Light levels determine volume and vibrato; as a result, once a cup measures the amount of light, that data is translated into the sound emitted. By moving your hands over a cup, volume and vibrato of a tone are created in relation to the light present. On the hardware side, an Arduino Uno (ATmega328) powers the electronic instrument and receives information from a set of six photo resistors.

Wearable Knitgadget controls your musical devices


Royal College of Art student Yen Chen Chang recently debuted the Knitgadget, a wearable glove that allows users to control various devices, musical or otherwise. The glove is comprised of conductive yarn that’s 80% polyester and 20% stainless steel (and 100% pure awesomeness). Chang knit and crocheted a series of objects that control devices by rubbing, pulling and stroking. When manipulated, the overlap of the metal fiber causes the textile to change conductivity which is then measured by an Arduino and communicated to the gadgets.

Drumming up some table tunes


In one of their latest demonstrations of how the ATmega32U4 based Touch Board can be connected to almost anything, the Bare Conductive crew has transformed ordinary items found throughout the kitchen — oranges, a pan, a toaster, a coffee maker, a tea kettle and even some silverware — into sound. Put them together and well, food won’t be the only thing you’re making on the counter!

Making music with the MaKey MaKey Monome


In an attempt to create a complex musical instrument with inexpensive parts and a simple process, Maker JDeboi has developed one rockin’ device: the MaKey MaKey Monome! As seen at this year’s World Maker Faire, JDeboi utilized the ATmega32U4 powered platform to create a futuristic instrument that looks like it was transported back from the year 2114! Using Makey Makey as its brains, JDeboi implemented a partnership of copper tape, NeoPixels, and cardboard to bring this monome to life. First using the NeoPixels and cardboard, she established an LED lattice that would serve as the base of the project. The Maker recommends using three different colored wires for GND, 5V, and data.

Turning old floppy drives into tunes


We said a flip flop the flippie the flippie to the flip flip flop a ya dont stop the makin’ of a floppy disk jukebox! Remember that irritating etching noise that aging floppies emitted when they would boot up? Well, Chris Fry has harnessed the sonic power of these old drives and turned them into some musical masterpieces. The Maker blew the dust off of eight floppy drives that he collected and began researching on Instructables how to repurpose them into a programmable musical machine. With the power of an Arduino Uno (ATmega328) and a hefty ATX power supply, Fry had his drives linked up and ready to jam.

These house plants can play tunes when they’re touched


Inspired by what they saw at a recent Maker Faire, Fast Company’s Natalia Rodriguez and Jihyun Lee hacked some of their typical houseplants to play various musical notes depending how they are grabbed. For example, when someone touches the stem the note is different than when they touch its outer leaves. When grabbed with two fingers instead of one, the sounds are different; same goes for other hand positions. The Makers reproduced a version of Disney’s “Touche,” the technology former Disney researcher Ivan Poupyrev and his team built to encode the frequencies that conductive materials like water, human bodies, and plants, among other materials carry whenever they are touched by a human — using a tutorial from Mads HoBye, Instructables‘ artist-in-residence, who hacked his own version using a small Arduino. While the team aspired to keep things organic and the plants as far from the computer as possible, the team utilized an Arduino Uno (ATmega328) to allow the plants to speak to the computer wirelessly.

DrumPants puts an entire band in your pocket


Ever catch yourself drumming on your thighs? Your table? Your desk? Your steering wheel? Now, starting a one-man band is as simple as wearing this musical kit. DrumPants, dubbed by its creators as “the world’s industrial quality wearable musical instrument,” transforms your outfit into a full ensemble with 100+ built-in high-quality sounds. DrumPants consists of two wearable sensor strips and a control box (embedded with an Atmel | SMART ARM Cortex-M3-based MCU) that affixes to your attire, allowing you to play a beat by simply tapping your body. The pair of sensor strips can easily be attached and removed from any item of clothing, making it the ideal portable instrument. In addition, the wearable device’s companion app can adjust the tone and pitch of each sound effect and enables users to upload their own customized effects. Wearers even get the functionality of a looping pedal built right into their shoe. The DrumPants kit is designed to work with any app that accepts MIDI or OSC signals, therefore providing users the ability to record, loop and edit their musical masterpieces.

Drawing musical MIDI


Earlier this year, a team led by Alex Haff of NYU’s Science of Music school debuted a DIY paper circuit project, aptly dubbed “Draw MIDI.” The digital-based platform uses capacitance sensing to collect electrical signals from a pencil-and-paper keyboard. The signals are converted to MIDI with an Arduino Uno (ATmega328) that sends the code to a PC via a Max patch.

A 3D feather touch MIDI keyboard


The Kyub is a Maker-friendly MIDI keyboard kit that can be easily assembled by just about anyone. Powered by a Teensy 2.0 (ATmega32U4),the open-source device allows users to simply attach one or multiple Kyubs to a computer synthesizer or digital audio workstation for to jam alone, with friends, or even for a full-out composition.

 Drum anything, anywhere and make real music


Ever catch yourself drumming your pencil or utensil on a tabletop? Thanks to Korg’s ClipHit, you can now bring those rhythmic beats to life. ClipHit’s newly-unveiled concept allows you to take everyday objects and turn them into a portable, electronic percussion instruments by simply attaching the three vibration-sensitive clips to a desk, table or any other nearby surface. Equipped with motion sensors, the clips analyze and monitor how hard you strike an object with a drumstick, pencil or even your fingers, while an embedded sensor in the control unit enables it to be played the same way. A user may also trigger a variety of built-in sound samples — kicks, snare, toms, and cymbals — and select a series of rock, pop or standard drum sets.

 This onesie turns you into a walking MP3 player


Dutch designer Borre Akkersdijk aspires to usher in a rather unique form of 3D-printed garments: a onesie capable of turning its wearer into a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot. Akkersdijk believes that the current generation of wearable technology — ranging from smartwatches to fitness bands — isn’t so much something you wear as it is something you attach to yourself. His project, named BB.Suit, was created in an effort to turn what calls “carry-able technology” into a much truer wearable form. In doing so, he hopes it would be able to establish a platform where wearers, people around the suit and even those online could all interact with one other in a dynamic, interactive manner. The first version of the suit — which made its debut back at SXSW — featured electrical threads woven into its fabric along with a musical library and GPS system. In collaboration with the online platform 22tracks, musicians around the Austin-based event were able to upload tunes directly onto BB.Suit, giving the term ‘walkman’ an entirely new meaning.

Hacking instruments with nothing but junk


Maker Yuri Suzuki recently collaborated with South African artists Bogosi Sekhukhuni and Neo Mahlasela, along with creative technologist Nathan Gates, to create a slick musical installation entitled “Warm Leatherette.” Suzuki and Gates devised the set of instruments by using nothing but electronic waste readily found in the streets of downtown Johannesburg — including old cellphones, televisions and cassette tapes. After collecting these obsolete devices, the team went onto upcycle them into a Maker-iffic spread of new musical tools. For instance, Suzuki connected an old TV to an Arduino for an electric drum sound, constructed a keyboard from Nokia phones, and pieced together a cassette tape guitar with variable speeds and sounds.

Move with the music — literally


A Maker by the name of “BBrodsky” has created an MP3-equipped workout shirt powered by an Arduino LilyPad (ATmega328P), which utilizes the music player and an accelerometer to detect whether or not the wearer is moving. If so, it plays his or her music. According to BBrodsky, the goal of the system is to promote an active lifestyle for wearers.

MIDI drum glove keeps the beat with FLORA


Designed by Adafruit’s Becky Stern, this MIDI drum glove is powered by the versatile FLORA platform (ATmega32U4). By simply tapping his or her fingers, a wearer can drop a beat like Iggy while looking like Michael.

MIDI dot-matrix printer does the Hackerena (and many more)


There is no doubt that you remember the inescapable ‘90s hit, The Macarena. The pairing of a catchy beat and a simple dance turned the Los Del Rio smash hit into a national phenomenon. Now, 20 years later, we can reminisce about the tune all thanks to one Maker and his MIDI compatible dot-matrix printer. A hacker by the name of MIDIDesaster has made a habit of turning DMPs into musical devices ranging from an ingenious cover of Eye of the Tiger to Jingle Bells. The modified printer uses an ATmega8 MCU to interpret inbound MIDI data and then feeds the information to an FPGA that essentially tunes the printer.

Play 8-bit chiptunes from your living room sofa


Ah, chiptune music. Who could forget the iconic synthesized electronic sounds of ’80s gaming? Well now, the Assorted Wires crew is letting your deliver those 8-bit tunes with the Lo-Fi SES, a hackable device. Consider yourself warned though, the open-source instrument will surely spark up some NES nostalgia! Based on an Atmel AVR MCU, the Lo-Fi SES replicates the shape of a good ol’ SNES controller, whose buttons are used to trigger samples, change tempo, as well as play, record and delete tracks. The controller, which is the heart of the Lo-Fi SES experience, comes equipped with a default playlist of onboard sounds including a lo-fi drum set.

Blast your favorite tunes with the Touch Board Boombox


Our friends over at Bare Conductive recently teamed with Jude Pullen of Design Modelling to develop a trendy boombox that perfectly demonstrates the widespread capabilities of their ATmega32U4 based Touch Board. Comprised of simple cardboard box along with some stenciled on Electric Paint and attached to a Touch Board, the Makers were able to get this stylish creation to flood the streets of London with some of their favorite MP3s.

Drop a beat with this ATmega328 based drum box


Maker Ole-Birger Neergård has devised a nifty DIY drum machine, the 7-BIT BEAT BOXXX, which is capable of laying the rhythm down for everything from ‘70s funk to modern-day hip-hop tunes. The retro synth-like box’s built-in metronome activates the 7-bit drum samples with every click. In addition, the drum machine is based on an Arduino Uno (ATmega328), encased in a series of mahogany and white acrylic panels. The Lo-Fi drum machine is programmed with nine different (and easily replaceable) 4-second drum samples, as well as features four buttons. The top-left button changes the sounds from three different sample banks, while the other three are responsible for activating the sound bites: big drum on the bottom left, snare on the bottom right, and hi-hat on the top right.

Arduino turntables transform Makers into DJs


A Swedish designer by the name of Per Holquimst is redefining the use of the old-school turntable. No longer will the instrument solely play music; in fact, his Arduino tangible interface turntable will have you forming beats from scratch in no time! Each machine contains five digital distance sensors in its wooden arm. The instrument can analyze up to 15 different blocks, therefore allowing complex rhythms to be established. These sensors interpret the locations of the blocks and relay that data back through the Atmel based system, making music based on certain pre-programmed metrics. As the user adds a block to the deck, the distance sensor plays a sound; thus, creating a wildly different melody is as simple as moving a block an inch to the left on the rotating wheel.

This installation lets you play city sounds by stepping


Ever since the days of Tom Hanks playing the giant piano inside FAO Schwartz, we’ve all wanted to step on floor keys and make tunes. Now, what if those “keys” could emit city, pow-wow or drum kit sounds? Thanks to a new audio installation designed by Chelsea Stewart and Eden Lew at the School of Visual Arts Products of Design MFA program, you can! Called “Sound Steps,” the project was designed under the guidance of Adafruit’s Becky Stern as the Maker explored the use of Arduino units in rapid prototyping of new product interactions. Inspired from their recent move from to New York, the duo decided to collect sounds around the city. The sounds were then uploaded to its farm, which consisted of four 1.25’ x 0.75’ x 6’ wood boards, a few extra pieces for an interior bracing as well as MDF material to create the platform top. Sound Steps is comprised of a 9 x 9 fabric square matrix, with each square connected to a Bare Conductive Touch Board (ATmega32U4). The project invites bystanders to walk barefoot across the interactive platform to discover the city audibly.

 Become a conductor of your own air symphony

Created by Ootsidebox’s Jean-Noël, 3Dpad is a sophisticated touchless gesture control interface with a depth perception of 10cm. Based on an AT90USB1286, the slick device is equipped for a wide-range of applications, including artistic expression, a game console, or in this case, an air controller for any electronic instrument.

This embedded ukulele can teach you to play chords and songs


Designed by Cornell students Raghav Subramaniam and Jeff Tian, ukule-LED is equipped with 16 NeoPixels that are situated along the first four positions of the fretboard. This allows those playing the device to easily learn how to play each chord. All of the 16 LEDs are connected in series to a single pin on the ATmega1284P that sits on a board mounted to the bottom of the ukulele along with power and serial.  ukule-LED has two modes of operations: “Play” and “Practice.” First, in “play” mode, the user can feed the system a song file, a text file that contains the tempo, time signature, and an ordered listing of the chords in a song. The ukulele will then light up the correct chords at the correct times in the song. (Think of it like Guitar Hero.) While in “practice” mode, the user can specify a single chord, which is lit up indefinitely. For those more experienced musicians, the ukule-LED can still serve as an excellent chord reference.

Video: Enchanted puppets reenact Napoleon Dynamite

Napoleon Dynamite was a 2004 low-budget American comedy that centered around a socially awkward high school student from Preston, Idaho, who lived with his older brother Kip and their grandmother, and navigated through life with his best friend Pedro. Napoleon daydreamed his way through school, doodling ligers (they’re pretty much his favorite animal. It’s like a lion and a tiger mixed… bred for its skills in magic) and fantasy creatures, while reluctantly dealing with the various bullies who torment him.


Well, fans of the flick will certainly enjoy what the team at Bare Conductive recently devised using their ATmega32U4 based Touch Board and some conductive thread. Think 2005 soundboards, only better…

The project reenacts a memorable part of the film, using several audio clips from the scene, which were separated into a dialogue. Each line of the dialogue was connected to a separate electrode on the Touch Board via conductive thread.

Like the film? Then, you’ll love this step-by-step tutorial from the Bare Conductive crew.