Tag Archives: FLORA

Turn your room into a night club with these sound-reactive lights

This Maker installed 12 meters of FLORA-driven NeoPixels to his apartment for a lighting system like no other. 

If you’re having a hard time deciding on which of the excellent (?) candidates to vote for this election cycle, perhaps Charlie Gorichanaz’s sound-reactive room lighting will swing your opinion. He doesn’t appear to actually be running for office, but at least he will have the website setup for any future political aspirations.


Regardless, he has our vote for the most fun bedroom, as he’s mounted 12 meters of NeoPixel strips in the corners where the walls meet the ceiling. The lighting is controlled by an Adafruit FLORA (ATmega32U4), which is normally meant for wearable use, but as shown here, can be quite versatile. This could be compared to how mere mortals put up comparatively boring crown molding.


This setup (explained here with diagrams and a parts list) was originally used in Gorichanaz’s apartment in Tokyo. After some code cleanup, it is now alive and well in the United States. You can see it shown in the video below.

If you notice that the audio is a little cleaner than you would normally expect, it was actually combined with the video after the fact. This is explained in the second link above, and could be useful for taking your DIY videos to a new level.

For another option, if you only want lights on one of your walls instead of the ceiling, here’s a sound-reactive panel idea inspired by the movie Ex Machina.

Building a crowdsourced, decentralized IoT network around the world

The Things Network is a low-barrier way to get started with smart city projects. 

When it comes to which kind of wireless network will be the go-to choice for the Internet of Things, the jury is still out: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 4G LTE, 5G, 802.15.4, the possibilities go on and on. And pending experiments underway in Amsterdam go as planned, don’t be surprised to find LoRaWAN as a frontrunner on that growing list. For those uninitiated with the technology, LoRaWAN is a wide area network that boasts low battery, low bandwidth and long-range wireless communication. It enables things to talk to the Internet without the need for 3G, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth — meaning, no codes, heavy battery consumption or monthly subscriptions necessary.


This long-range WAN is a practical suitor for smart city and M2M applications, as seen throughout the Dutch capital. In this particular case, Amsterdam has tapped the open IoT data network, The Things Network. Due to its seven-mile reach and affordability, the non-profit organization has been able to cover the entire city with only 10 gateways. And unlike other similar municipality projects, this one was entirely crowdsourced and implemented in a matter of six weeks with help from third parties, such as the Port of Amsterdam, The Next Web, KPMG, Deloitte, Peerby and Trakkies. 

There is, however, one minor speed bump on the road to a distributed, citizen-owned service: each of the currently available LoRaWAN gateways cost around $1,200, which isn’t so great for global scalability. Cognizant of this, The Things Network decided to launch a Kickstarter campaign offering a consumer-friendly base station with a price tag that’s only one-fifth of other products currently on the market.


“The Internet was created by people that connected their networks and allowed traffic from, to and over their servers and cables to pass for free. As a result, there was abundant data communication and exponential innovation. The Things Network is doing the same for the Internet of Things by creating abundant data connectivity. So applications and businesses can flourish,” the team explains.

The community-led initiative is hoping to make it easier for those looking to set up their own networks thanks to three new pieces of hardware: The Things Gateway, The Things Uno and The Things Node. The Things Gateway is at the core of it all. This small, simple-to-install gadget acts as the router between the things and the Internet. Not only does it link to your Wi-Fi or Ethernet connection, it runs open hardware, uses GPS to determine its location and the node’s whereabouts later, and serves up to 10,000 nodes.


Meanwhile, The Thing Uno is like an Arduino Uno but with LoRaWAN capabilities. This lets you upgrade your existing Arduino projects by making wireless with a several mile radius. Compatible with existing shields and the Arduino IDE, the board includes connections for an optional external antenna on the breakout circuit to better optimize the range. What’s more, The Things Network is collaborating with 3D Hubs to make a customizable 3D-printable enclosure for your Uno.

But that’s not all. The Thing Node is a keyring remote equipped with sensors (movement, light and temperature), an RGB LED, a button and three AAA batteries, all housed inside a waterproof shell. This “matchbox of sensors” can be integrated with your IFTTT account, as well as employed to devise your own low-cost prototypes applications for a Things Network in your town. Example use cases span from bike finders and pet trackers to smart doorbells and security systems, and so far, teams in Boston, Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires, Cape Town, Kochi, Sydney and Manchester have all begun actively pursuing projects.


Interested? Head over to The Thing Network’s Kickstarter campaign, where the foundation is currently seeking $170,036. Delivery is slated for July 2016.

Made with Code helps design Zac Posen’s FLORA-powered LED dress

Zac Posen teamed with Google’s Made with Code to create a black dress that displays a pattern created by LED lights.

More and more, we’re seeing the fashion and technology worlds come together in ways never before imagined. There’s your less ‘out of the ordinary’ wearable devices like fitness trackers and watches, but then there’s smart garments that can do everything from react to your body’s temperature and mood to ambient sound. With the advent of conductive thread, mini microcontrollers and a burgeoning Maker community, the possibilities of what can be sewn and coded together are truly endless.

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Demonstrating just that, Google’s Made with Code and Zac Posen teamed up to show how computer science can push the boundaries of what’s possible in fashion using technology developed by Maddey Maxey and electronics from Adafruit. Students had the ability to log onto Made With Code and select a mysterious LED-based project.

At the time, the girls had no idea as to what they were contributing to but were excited nonetheless. The result? An interactive dress converging Posen’s “Los Angeles at night” inspiration and the students’ coding skills that debuted at the finale of the Zac Posen Spring 2016 Fashion Show, which kicked off New York Fashion Week.


All eyes were on the LED-embedded dress worn by Coco Rocha as it dazzled the runway inside a packed auditorium at Manhattan’s Industria Superstudio. The black piece featured short sleeves and a mesh skirt, along with 500 tiny lights that were programmed to emit different animated patterns — all controlled by an Adafruit FLORA (ATmega32U4).

“There is nothing greater than the fulfillment of creating something and seeing it come to life — to light up,” Posen explains.


Not only did they get to have a hand in designing the LED sequences, but 50 girls had the chance to attend the show and witness their collaborative effort light up the catwalk. For those of us who couldn’t experience the magical moment firsthand, Adafruit was lucky enough to capture it for us all to see! Watch below!

[Images: Google, Adafruit]

Maker creates a FLORA-powered, light-up necklace dress

In her exploration of e-textiles, one N.C. State student has crafted an illuminating necklace dress powered by FLORA.

Victoria Rind, a Maker studying textile engineering at North Carolina State University, recently devised an interactive dress with one goal in mind: to stand out. How’d she do it, you ask? Using an Adafruit FLORA and NeoPixels to light up its attached necklace.


“People want to be able to customize their style and clothing,” Rind explains. “What’s more customizable than a programmable dress?”

The idea for the dress was first conceived after witnessing other garments with built-in necklaces. Channelling her inner DIY spirit, Rind went out and bought a basic shift dress pattern and beads to create the dress, along with an FLORA (ATmega32U4) wearable MCU, four RGB NeoPixels and some conductive thread.

Once satisfied with the NeoPixels output, the Maker sewed the circuit to the dress beginning with conductive thread, and finishing it off with normal fiber to prevent a short happening in between the wiring.

“Without the extra layer of thread, the lines of conductive thread would constantly touch, and the light pattern would be glitchy and inconsistent,” Rind adds.

So what’s next for the engineering student? In five years, she aspires to bring functionality to textiles.

“I would consider my work a success if I could create clothing that adapted to changes in the environment,” she concludes.

[h/t Adafruit via N.C. State]

This LED t-shirt visualizes your body movements

Digi-Weirdo is a wearable project that explores the convergence of identity and guiding communication.

Zhen Liu just loves data. So much so that it has inspired several innovations, namely her latest project Digi-Weirdo. Created as part of a class assignment at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program, the interactive t-shirt was designed as a way to give clothing other roles than merely covering your body and helping to establish your personal identity. Instead, the Maker hopes one day such garments can be used to convey real-time emotions and enhance communication between one another by visualizing body movements through an LED matrix.


Built around an Adafruit FLORA MCU (ATmega32U4), the t-shirt is fitted with a battery for power as well as an accelerometer for analyzing body motions and translating them into a series of illuminated patterns. The LED matrix is embedded inside an inverted triangle that is sewn on the front of the shirt.


As Adafruit puts it, what may be most interesting about this project is that through some simple programming, a wearer can create a visual language of their own. See it in action below!

This interactive dress visualizes New York City’s subway

LEDs on this FLORA-powered dress light up according to nearest subway line.

For those of you who have ever lived in or visited New York City, you know just how intimidating the subway system can be. Cognizant of this, Boram Kim has devised a clever (and stylish) solution to the problem. As shown on the runway at NYU ITP’s Spring 2015 Fashion Show, the Maker created an interactive dress capable of locating the nearest station through illuminated LEDs.


The garment — which visualizes the entire mass transit map in silver thread stitched on a denim-like material — employs an embedded GPS module that can detect a wearer’s location and then highlight the closest subway line via a series of NeoPixels.


“For example, if the user is closest to Classon Ave. station, which is a G train, the whole G line will light up with green color,” Kim writes.


On the inside, the Maker embedded several Adafruit FLORA (ATmega32U4) and GPS modules, all of which are soldered together. A NeoPixel strip was cut to create smaller pixels for the various station lights, which were wired and hot glued to the inner lining of the dress. A 3.7V LiPo battery is tucked away inside a little pocket.

Surely one of the more innovative wearables we’ve seen lately, you can head over to the Maker’s official page to learn more.

This hoodie can sense and react to weather

This hoodie will emit various lighting effects based on the forecasted precipitation, temperature, and wind speed.

As they say, April showers bring May flowers. Or, in Barbara Eldredge’s case, a flower-covered hoodie that illuminates based on the weather forecast.

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The aptly-named Spring Hoodie, which is actually a combination of two inexpensive hoodies from Old Navy, is packed with an Adafruit FLORA (ATmega32U4), a CC3000 Wi-Fi module and a lithium battery, all hidden inside an inner pocket. 18 NeoPixel LEDs were embedded inside of fake flowers adorning the hood. In order to protect and conceal the wiring, the Maker turned one of the two sweatshirts inside-out and placed it directly within other. (Or as Eldredge calls it, create a “hoodie sandwich.”) Just so she never had to take the FLORA out, the Maker also added a button that is tasked with turning the wearable on/off.

“When I turn on the hoodie, the Wi-Fi module tethers to my phone, and the FLORA uses it to connect to a simple PHP web page pulling three-hour forecast data for the predicted precipitation, temperature, and wind speed from the Open Weather Map API,” Eldredge writes.


Once the FLORA is connected over Wi-Fi, the lapel flower emits green to show that it is indeed working. When it connects to the webpage, the ATmega32U4 based MCU collects the weather information and uses it to control the color, brightness and changing of the LED flowers. The color adjusts based on the amount of predicted precipitation. In other words, the more rain that is predicted, the more the LEDs will become blue (and not red/orange).

Meanwhile, the intensity of the LEDs is dependent upon temperature — the warmer, the brighter. Though she wanted some slight pulsing or suggestion of movement in the lights, the speed of this movement is actually dictated by the predicted wind speed. The faster the wind, the faster the lights will change or flicker.


“The Spring Hoodie is admittedly a pretty wacky piece of clothing. But after the cold wet winter we’ve had, I’m ready for flowers and color. And I like that it’ll always let me know how the weather’s going to be,” she concludes.

Interestingly enough, for those spring days where you can’t decide as to whether it’s too cold to wear a lightweight jacket, the hoodie will do it for you. Should the temperature dip below an appropriate level, the wearable won’t turn on at all.

Want a Spring Hoodie of your own? Head over to the Maker’s official project page on element14 here, and check it out in action below.

A look at some of today’s wearable microcontrollers

This list is sew awesome!

Created by Leah Buechley of MIT, and introduced commercially with SparkFun back in 2007, the LilyPad was the first board to feature sew-through contacts for stitching soft circuits. Since then, a number of “ready-to-wear” electronics platforms have emerged, each of which have helped usher in a new generation of textiles that look to redefine wearable technology. In fact, a recent Gartner report revealed that the emergence smart garments will potentially disrupt the market. So much so that embedded clothing shipments are projected to rise from a mere 0.1 million units in 2014 to 26 million units in 2016.

As first noted by MAKE: Magazine’s Boris Kourtoukov, “there’s a plethora of options” when it comes to these microcontrollers. What’s more, they all possess one common trait: they’re powered by Atmel. These so-called body boards are now giving Makers the ability to easily (and affordably) produce their own projects in ways that otherwise would have been unimaginable.

So, without further ado, here’s a look at some of today’s most prominent boards ready for adornment.

The Favorites

LilyPad Arduino


LilyPad is a wearable e-textile technology developed by Leah Buechley and cooperatively brought to life with SparkFun. Each LilyPad was creatively designed to have large connecting pads to allow them to be sewn into clothing. LilyPad can sense information about the environment using inputs like light and temperature sensors and can act on the environment with outputs like LED lights, vibrator motors, and speakers. And yes, they’re even washable.




FLORA is Adafruit’s fully-featured wearable electronics platform. The round, sewable microcontroller weighs in at 4.4 grams and measures only 1.75 inches in diameter. 100% Arduino-compatible, the platform is one of the most beginner-friendly ways to create some amazing wearables. The FLORA family includes an assortment of sensors and RGB LEDs that let you add lighting to your projects, not to mention also boasts built-in USB support, eliminating the need for pesky special cables and extra parts.




Those who are seeking the awesomeness of FLORA but in a tinier package are sure to love another one Adafruit’s wearable platforms: the GEMMA. The board, which packs all of its features in a 1″ diameter package, is programmable with an Arduino IDE over USB. An upcoming Arduino IDE-supported version will feature an on/off switch and microUSB connector.


TinyLily Mini


A brainchild of TinyCircuits, the TinyLily Mini is an Arduino-compatible module in an ultra-compact package. Geared towards Makers looking to devise e-textile and wearable applications, the board is very similar to the Arduino LilyPad, with the same processing power and software compatibility – but at 1/12th of the size. The TinyLily Mini also is equipped with sew tabs for eight I/O (four digital, four analog/digital) and four power sew tabs (two for power, two for ground).




SquareWear is an open-source, wearable board. The Arduino-compatible MCU measures 1.7″x1.7″ in size, and is equipped with a built-in rechargeable Lithium coin battery. It is designed to be sewable, which allows Makers to stich conductive threads through its large pin pads, solder a wire directly onto the pads, or solder snaps onto the pads for quick attachment or detachment from textiles and fabrics. Additionally, the MCU packs an on-board miniUSB port that can be used for programming, charging batteries and serial communication, as well as a color LED, a pushbutton, a buzzer, a light and temperature sensor, and three MOSFETs to drive the high-current load. See, it’s hip to be square!




Seeed Studio’s Xadow is a high-performance, low-power board that is perfectly suited for wearable projects. The microcontroller can be powered either via USB or a Lithium battery. Also, there is charge circuit on this module that you can charge for the Lithium battery through the USB port. Xadow has a diverse selection of compatible modules, including a barometer, UV sensor, LED, OLED and even a full GPS antenna.

MCU: ATmega32U4



Trinket goes to show that big things really can come in small packages. In fact, the tiny MCU is one of the lowest-cost Arduino IDE programmable boards on the market today. Adafruit designed a USB bootloader so Makers could easily plug it into any computer and reprogram it over a USB port just like an Arduino. It comes in two different versions: 3V and 5V. Both work the same, but have different operating logic voltages.

MCU: ATtiny85

Pro Trinket


A bigger sibling of the aforementioned board, this 5V unit combines everything you love about Trinket along with the familiarity of the common core found in Arduinos. It’s like an Arduino Pro Mini with more pins along with built-in USB. The Pro Trinket, which still only measures 1.5″ x 0.7″ x 0.2” in size, features 18 GPIO, two extra analog inputs, 28K of flash, as well as 2K of RAM. Like its older brother, the MCU has onboard USB bootloading support and Optiboot support, so Makers can either program their Pro Trinket over USB or with a FTDI cable just like the Pro Mini. (Recently, paying homage to our friends at Hackaday, the Adafruit crew even unveiled a Hackaday.io branded board — black solder mask, Jolly Wrencher and all. And, it’s stunning.)

Atmel MCU: ATmega328

Ones to Watch



BITalino is a low-cost, easy-to-use toolkit designed for anyone looking to build self-tracking applications based on information from their body. The platform enables Makers to quickly bring projects entailing body signals and quantified self wearable devices to life, as well as learn how to create actual medical devices — which otherwise can cost upwards of $10,000. BITalino is described by its creators as an out-of-the-box solution that offers an array of Arduino-compatible software and hardware blocks equipped with sensors for electrocardiography (ECG), electromyography (EMG), electrodermal Activity (EDA), accelerometry (ACC), and ambient light (LUX).




Launched by Ynvisible, Printoo is a printed electronics prototyping platform that is capable of bringing everyday objects to life. Comprised of various hardware modules that can all be connected to each other, it is currently the only platform that appears to have a robust flexible form-factor. This enables Makers to quickly and seamlessly create first product concepts for smart wearable devices. Moreover, the board is fully-compatible and programmable with the Arduino IDE.




Introduced by Maker Mohsin Farooq, SuperDuino is a coin cell operated, Arduino-compatible board with a built-in 1.7-inch color display and a three-axis accelerometer. As you can imagine, this makes the MCU a suitable match for a wide-range of DIY games, gadgets and most of all, wearable devices.

MCU: ATmega328

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.

Rewind: Oh. My. God. Becky, look at those wearables…

From GPS logging dog harnesses to MIDI drumming gloves, Adafruit’s Director of Wearable Electronics Becky Stern has unveiled some pretty wonderful wearable projects over the past couple of months. So much so that we’ve decided to pay homage to the LED-lovin’, gadget-glowin’ Maker by showcasing several of our favorites.

While the inherent versatility of Atmel’s MCUs have made our silicon a favorite amongst engineers for next-gen smart devices, evident by Becky’s latest designs, they have also increasingly emerged as the go-to choice for Makers creating DIY wearables.

Interior Purse Lights


Never fumble through your purse in the dark again, thanks to this fashionable yet practical innovation. The project makes use of Adafruit’s GEMMA Sequin Starter Pack (ATtiny85), conductive thread and conductive hook and loop tape.

NeoPixel Punk Collar


Punk meets goth in this one-of-a-kind cybergothpunk creation — a leather collar studded with five color-changing NeoPixels. The project is powered by the ATtiny85 based GEMMA platform — which can also be substituted by a Trinket — and will surely make you the life of any party!

Cyberpunk Spikes


As we continue to delve deep into cyberpunk territory, check out these slick 3D-printed spikes! Add these bright spikes — which uses a NeoPixel strip diffused by NinjaFlex 3D printing filament — to any ensemble. This project again employs a GEMMA microcontroller that animates the LEDs.

NeoPixel Ring Bracelet


Sure, you can catch the attention of onlookers with the latest smartwatch or fashionable jewelry, but how about adorning your wrist with an eye-popping bracelet instead? Passerby won’t help but stare at the various light patterns displayed on this nifty DIY bracelet, which boasts set of four NeoPixel rings along with the tiny GEMMA.

Tank Girl Goes Cyberpunk


Whether you’re a fan of the 1995 American sci-fi flick Tank Girl or not, you will surely appreciate Becky’s 3D-printed, LED-embedded Bandolier of Light. Similar to the aforementioned cyberpunk spikes, this unique getup is comprised of NinjaFlex filament, some NeoPixels, and of course, an tinyAVR driven GEMMA.

Laser Dog Goggles


What would a bright night on the town be without an appropriate getup of man’s best companion. Here, Becky transformed once-ordinary Doggles into a paw-some pair of cyberpunk-style glasses with a rotating laser. Using a Trinket 3v MCU (ATtiny85), a set of clear dog goggles and a laser diode as the center of the device, this invention will surely be a hit on the scene.

Light-Activated Pixel Heart


Talk about wearing your heart on your sleeve, or in this case, shirt. The embedded GEMMA and light dependent resistor detect when a wearer’s NeoPixel heart is uncovered, and just like that, triggers the heart light on.

Superhero Power Plant


If there’s one thing you should know when it comes to Makers and DIY wearables, it’s that we love Iron Man! Incorporate a Tony Stark-inspired arc reactor into your next Comic Con cosplay costume with an uber-small GEMMA, laser cut acrylic frame, and NeoPixels to round out the handheld power plant.

Firewalker LED Sneakers


Think of it as a DIY version of those old-school LA Lights you wore as kids, only cooler. And, much brighter. Cheaper, too! This project — a collaboration between Becky and the creative Phillip Burgess — shows just how easy it is to mod a pair of high-tops with a NeoPixel strip and FLORA (ATmega32u4 MCU). A velostat step sensor inside each shoe activate a light animation with every step taken in these new DIY kicks.

LED Sparkle Skirt


Add a simple sparkle to your skirt or other piece of attire using a [megaAVR basedFLORA controller and accelerometer, conductive thread, and RGB NeoPixels.

Plushy Game Controller


Throw pillows? That’s boring. An oversize plush pillow that functions as a game controller? Now we’re talking! This idea was brought to life with just some conductive fabric, a FLORA board, and a capacitive touch sensing circuit to round out the electronics.

Wearable GPS Tracker


Make a wearable GPS tracker for you, or even your furry friend. Use an ATmega32U4 powered FLORA main board and GPS to log your distance. Simply integrate it into a backpack, dog harness, or whatever you want to track for that matter.

Pac-Man Animated Pixel Suspenders


This set of “blinken-braces” boasts 30 NeoPixels, each of which are sewn to these suspenders and controlled by a FLORA board running a dazzling Pac-Man inspired animation.

MIDI Drum Glove


Look like Michael, keep the beat like Iggy. Play your favorite synths by finger drumming! Stitch up four piezos into a glove and use a FLORA to transmit signals to your favorite music-making software.

GPS Jacket


Built around FLORA, this slick, megaAVR powered GPS Jacket reacts to your whereabouts with color-changing, pulsing LED lights around the collar.

FLORA NeoGeo Watch


Based on the wearable FLORA platform and an accompanying GPS module, the NeoGeo Watch can be tastefully paired with Adafruit’s futuristic goggles and GPS Jacket for a full cyberpunk/steampunk wardrobe.

Zipper Switch


Zippin’ awesome! In one of her latest projects, Becky explores yet another innovative way of turning otherwise relatively dull clothing into more fun, interactive attire. Take zippers, for instance. Here, the super talented Maker transformed them into a momentary switch for activating lights, sounds, and more using stainless steel conductive thread. As the zipper pull travels along the teeth, two pads of conductive thread are bridged, momentarily creating an electrical connection. This connection can be sensed by an Atmel based MCU, such as the FLORA or GEMMA, with an activated internal pull-up resistor.

If you’re feeling inspired to make your own project using Adafruit’s FLORA, GEMMA and Trinket wearable electronics platform, explore everything there is to know here.