Bet your office doesn’t share wireless network credentials like this…
Turns out, bananas aren’t just an excellent source of potassium, they’re also an excellent source of wireless network credentials. Just ask Danish Reddit user and network administrator “Sysvival” who recently decided to use the fruit as a unique way to distribute Wi-Fi passwords to guests at his workplace.
The idea originated after Sysvival was asked to set up a captive portal for his office, like those seen in most hotel chains and coffee shops. The administrator decided to generate a pool of 5,000 passwords, each of which were valid for eight hours of access. These temporary codes are stored on a Raspberry Pi, which is connected to a Makey Makey GO (ATmega32U4) via a USB cable. The Makey Makey forms the a connection between the banana and Pi.
Now, whenever a visitor needs to get onto the Wi-Fi network, all he or she has to do is touch the banana, which triggers the Raspberry Pi to spit out a password on an attached display. When contact is established, the capacitance of the banana drops. The Makey Makey detects this change and interprets it as the press of a key, therefore sending the signal to the Pi that it needs to hand out a password voucher.
This notepad and pencil use conductive ink to control a Think With Google app.
London-based branding agency MultiAdaptor has designed a paper notepad and pencil that employs conductive ink to control an app for Google’s digital marketing business. The goal of the project was to raise awareness of Think With Google in the creative community by inspiring them to engage with the service’s content in unique fashion. And what better way to do this than by plugging a piece of paper into the Internet?
In order to make the notepad, industrial designer Roland Ellis developed a special (and quite possibly the world’s first) conductive bookbinding glue that connects an Arduino-compatible board (which appears to be an ATmega32U4 based MaKey MaKey) to printed pages without having to use cables or any other parts. Conductive ink was screen-printed onto the paper, which is activated using a standard graphite pencil.
“The digital experience is also designed to reflect the Google brand — something simple and helpful, but playful and innovative, too,” the MultiAdaptor crew explains. “The audience is time-poor, so we made it faster to discover what’s relevant to them, by creating a bespoke ‘edit’ of content with a few ticks or clicks.”
To get started, users plug the notepad into their desktop via a provided USB cable, visit the Think With Google website and check off two options from a list of statements using the pencil, such as “increase brand awareness” or “drive sales.” The interface focuses primarily on four different types of content: deck-ready stats, thought-leading articles, Google business tools and inspiring video content. From there, a user selects the platform that they want to leverage, which includes search, video, mobile and display. Content matching their selection is then shown in a dashboard titled My Edit. From there, users can share a link to their edit or virtually ‘rip’ off a page from the pad and create a new one. Aside from that, the dashboard can be accessed independently and the presentation-friendly interface can be employed in an office environments or at an event.
So far, 1,000 notepads have been printed, assembled and in the process of being shipped to agencies throughout the UK and Italy. Intrigued? Head over to the project’s official page, or watch its overview video below.
This wearable instrument will turn you into a music-making cyborg.
When it comes to music and fashion, what’s not to love? During Maker Faire Bay Area, we had a blast jamming away to some Iggy Azalea and Jeremih beats on our pair of DrumPants. With so much excitement around the project, we couldn’t help but browse the web for some other Atmel-based, tune-emitting clothing. And just like that, we stumbled upon a recent DIY hoodie from Liza Stark, who has discovered a pretty awesome (and super easy) way to transform herself into a walking instrument as well. The Maker did so by using nothing more than a Makey Makey bit, a littleBits Synth Kit, some conductive fabric and thread, and a little of her own ingenuity.
In order to create the digital sound interface, Stark devised switches out of conductive fabric and then placed them on different parts of a hoodie that her best friend had lying around. One side of the switch is the Makey Makey (ATmega32U4) input, the other ground. When both are touched simultaneously, it closes the switch and triggers a sound from the synth bits attached to the Makey Makey input.
“Play around with the synth bits to determine what configuration you like best,” Stark adds. “Since there are only three outputs, you can get really creative with the connector bits, the mix bit, and speaker bit if you have extra — we’re talking super fun sound textures here.”
The circuit is held together with gaffers tape on the front and back of the bits, while the Makey Makey module is sewn onto the hoodie using conductive thread. Meanwhile, Stark even added a few custom-designed touch pads of her own to the garment.
Have you ever thought about turning a donut into a keypad, an apple into a drum, a JELL-O mold into a game controller? Or, how about capturing a slip ’n slide selfie or initiating a Skype call with your dog? As wild as some of those ideas may seem, they’re all now possible thanks to the newly-revealed Makey Makey GO.
Since its debut back in 2012, Makey Makey has become a household name among DIYers with their ATmega32U4 based circuit board and alligator clips, which have enabled users to turn practically anything into a touch-sensitive device. Now, the JoyLabz team has returned with the world’s first on-the-go invention kit — letting anyone invent anything from anywhere at anytime. Abiding by many of the same principles as the original kit (known as the “Classic”), GO also allows users to hook up multiple clips.
How it works is pretty straightforward, especially if you’ve ever used its larger sibling. The GO inserts directly into the USB port of any laptop (Mac, Windows, and Linux all supported), while its corresponding alligator clips are used to attach the board to the objects of choice. Once a user taps the items, input is relayed over to the computer, which identifies the Makey Makey unit as a generic USB keyboard or mouse.
“For example, a banana. When you touch the banana the Makey Makey GO sends the computer a keyboard or mouse message. The computer just thinks Makey Makey GO is a regular keyboard or mouse. Therefore it works with all programs and webpages, because all programs and webpages take keyboard and mouse input,” JoyLabz writes.
The thumbdrive-shaped gadget is compact enough to throw in any bag, pack into any bracelet or link to any keychain, while transforming ordinary things into Internet-connected touch pads while out and about. If a Maker has an idea that calls for more than one button, simply plug in another. What’s more, a pair of capacitive touch buttons can be found between the USB stick and the alligator clip attachment — one is a play button to activate the board, the other to switch the type of input to the computer.
“It’s a simple tool-slash-toy that allows beginners and experts to make countless art, music, engineering, and science projects. It comes ready to use out of the box with no setup and no installations,” its creators note. “We redesigned Makey Makey Classic to focus it down to its absolute bare essentials: a single capacitive sensor input with a single alligator clip that can pretend to be any key or a mouse click. Then we gave it a magnet, a keyring, and shrunk it down so small that it fits anywhere.”
You can now use everyday objects to trigger your littleBits.
A few years ago, MIT students Jay Silver and Eric Rosenbaum were on the lookout for a way to transform everyday things into touchpads. The duo (now JoyLabz) would eventually go on to create MaKey MaKey, which made its Kickstarter debut back in May 2012 and garnered over $500,000 in a matter of weeks. The basic kit was comprised of a USB cable and an ATmega32U4 based circuit board with alligator clips, which once attached to an object, opened the doors for Makers to explore their wildest imaginations — allowing them to do everything from perform piano classics on a series of bananas, play Super Mario chiptunes on Play-Doh and even make beats by dipping chicken nuggets into sauce.
Just the other day, our friends at littleBits introduced the newest addition to their not so ‘bitsy’ family: the Makey Makey Bit. As you can imagine, this new module brings the highly-popular DIY platform into the littleBits library, and thus, provides users with countless interactions that were never before conceived, let alone possible, with other products.
“Now, you can trigger your littleBits modules with everyday objects or use littleBits modules to trigger events in your computer, or a combination of both. It makes inventing even easier and more fun,” the team writes.
Built around an ATmega32U4, the latest module connects to a computer through a microUSB cable and features three Makey Makey inputs, each of which are mapped to left arrow, right arrow and space bar/mouse click — depending on how a user sets the switch. Each one of these key inputs can be controlled by littleBits modules, ranging from motion triggers to light sensors. The board itself is flanked, both top and bottom, by three magnetic panels that let it snap onto other Bits.
This offers Makers three different interactions: touch-to-Bit (trigger Bits via any conductive object), Bit-to-computer (link up with other Bits to command the cursors on a PC) and touch-to-computer (control a computer’s cursor using any object that has conductivity). Take the banana, for example. When a user touches the piece of fruit, they complete the connection and the Makey Makey Bit sends a signal to either their PC (move cursor left or right) or to their Bits (flash an LED or turn a motor).
“There’s this huge range of input and output possibilities with littleBits and a huge range of everyday objects – in fact the whole world — that you connect to with Makey Makey; and we’ve now put these together.”
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.
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.
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.
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 Youwas 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If there’s one thing both Tom Hanks in “Big” and Dance Dance Revolution have taught us, it’s that people like stomping on things to a particular beat.
With the advent of DIY platforms like MaKey MaKey and Bare Conductive, Makers are now finding innovative ways to turn steps into sound. One Maker in particular, Barnaby Stacey, recently transformed his steps into a synth staircase that played tunes from Swedish House Mafia using ATmega32U4 based MaKey MaKey hardware, Logic Pro, VMPK software and a whole heck of a lot of tin foil. The rail was used as an earth point, while each stair (and rail ball) served as a musical note. As you can see from the video below, Stacey was able to piece together different notes by keymapping the steps separately for each melodic part.
And to think, we were always told as kids not to play with our food! Over the last couple of months, we’ve seen a number of edible musical arrangements from chicken nuggets to sushi. Thanks to Nashville and Atlanta-based ad agency redpepper, we can add one more piece of food to the list: JELL-O.
In an effort to “make capacitive touch more festive and jiggly,” the team created a keyboard using an [Atmel-based] Arduino and several LED lights embedded inside small JELL-O molds, each programmed to play different Piezo tones when tapped.
Hungry for more meal-inspired, piano-like music? Check out some of these sweet creations — a number of which are powered by an Atmel ATmega32U4.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Maker Ole-Birger Neergård has devised a nifty DIY drum machine, the 7-BIT BEAT BOXXX, which iscapable 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
With Computer Science Education Week in full swing and the holidays just around the corner, we’ve decided to list some of our favorite creations from this year that are inspiring the next generation of Makers to not only tinker around, but pursue STEM disciplines.
Created by Ayah Bdeir, littleBits was launched with hopes of making DIY hardware accessible to everyone of all ages. While making things with electronics can be a difficult feat, the company’s open-source, modular components easily piece together to form larger circuits. Young Makers can even connect real world ’things’ to the Internet, program IFTTT recipes, and sync it all to an Arduino using its ATmega32U4 powered module.
Drexel University professor Pramod Abichandani and a team of three undergraduate students recently developed the ATmega32U4 drivenLocoRobo, a low-cost robot capable of being wirelessly programmed with minimal to no effort. Born out of his own frustrations with bots, Abichandani aspires to advance programming and robotics education for everyone — from first-graders to more experienced Makers — by combining a world-class programming ecosystem with a high-quality device.
Chibitronics Circuit Stickers Starter Kit
With Chibitronic stickers, young DIYers are able to make nearly any surface glow, sense or interact. An imaginative and simple way to create fun electronics projects, the kit not only allows users to easily affix their circuit sticker to a number of materials, but can even connect conductive materials like copper tape or even conductive paint to create elaborate designs, art project and entertaining birthday cards. What makes Chibitronic unique is its ability to converge the familiarity of stickers with electronic components, such as LEDs, sensor circuits and programmable MCUs (ATtiny85).
Think of MaKey MaKey as an invention kit for the 21st century, which gives young Makers the power to transform ordinary objects into Internet-connected touch pads. Powered by an ATMega32u4 MCU, the MaKey MaKey has been on the scene since Jay Silver successfully funded the project back in 2012, attaining nearly $570,000 in Kickstarter pledges. When a user touches an object that is hooked up to the board via alligator clips, i.e. a banana, a connection is made which sends the computer a keyboard message. In essence, the computer considers MaKey MaKey as a regular keyboard (or mouse), meaning it can work with pretty much all programs and webpages.
Developed by UX design from Slice of Lime, Nübi aims to teach basic programming skills to kids of any gender. The creation is described by its creator as an Internet-enabled toy that takes the form of a creature who just arrived on our planet and needs to be taught about everything, from colors to music to temperature. The toy is embedded with a series of sensors that enable it to wirelessly communicate like an RFID chip with other devices in its environment, such as a motion detector or light sensor. Kids use an accompanying flower-like wand, equipped with an [Atmel based] Arduino-controlled RFID reader, to talk to Nübi.
A group of Harvard University researchers have developed an $11 tool to educate young Makers on the fundamentals of robotics. Dubbed AERobot (short for Affordable Education Robot), its team hopes that it will one day help inspire more kids to explore STEM disciplines. The bot can move forward and backward on flat surfaces, turn in place in both directions, detect the direction of incoming light, identify distances using infrared light, as well as following lines and edges. With a megaAVR 8-bit MCU as its brains, most of its other electronic parts were assembled with a pick-and-place machine, and to reduce costs some more, used vibration motors for locomotion and omitted chassis. AERobot is equipped with a built-in USB plug that also allows it to be directly inserted into any computer with a USB port.
ArduSat Space Kit
Ask any classroom of kids what they want to be when they grow up, and undoubtedly a few imaginative youngsters will answer emphatically with “Astronaut!” With that lofty goal in mind, Spire (formerly Nanosatisfi) launched its ArduSat program to bring space exploration to the classroom. ArduSat is the first open satellite platform that enables the general public to design and run applications, games and experiments in space, while also steering onboard cameras to take pictures on-demand. More specifically, ArduSat is designed to give ordinary people – like students – the chance to conduct experiments by controlling over 25 different integrated sensors including spectrometers, magnetometers, radiation measurement devices, gyroscopes, accelerometers and thermometers. With its space kit, ArduSat is supplying individual classrooms all of the tools they need to carry out space exploration. Each set contains an Arduino Uno (ATmega328), a series of sensors, LEDs, and other components. By linking the sensors to the Arduino, students can measure levels of temperature, luminosity, and magnetic fields. Currently, more than two dozen schools are using ArduSat, with plenty more to follow.
While the team may not have been able to garner its $105,000 Kickstarter goal, ScratchDuino is an incredibly customizable and accessible robot-building platform that any young Maker would find helpful in their tinkering endeavors. The educational platform’s ease of use will help foster the robot design process for Makers both young and old. Featuring plastic encased parts designed for extended durability and kid resiliency, ScratchDuino includes two light sensors, two contact sensors, two reflective object sensors, and an infrared eye. At its heart lies an Arduino Uno (ATmega328) programmed with the Scratch language, which was developed by MIT.
Recently launched on Kickstarter, the XPlorerBoard Student is described by its creators as a fun and quick way to learn electronic circuits and programming. This revolutionary electronics system easily plugs into a Mac or PC, which enables Makers to run programs on its built-in ATmega328 MCU, which is also preloaded with the Arduino bootloader. The XPlorerBoard’s iPad and Android InventIT application features over 50 inspiring experiments, ranging from motion-activated burglar alarms to ping-pong video games.
When you think of painting, electricity isn’t probably the first thing that comes to mind. However, Bare Conductive is changing the game with its ATmega32U4 based Touch Board that lets Makers transform nearly all materials and surfaces into a touch sensor. Simply connect anything conductive to one of its 12 electrodes and trigger a sound via its onboard MP3 player, play a MIDI note or do anything else that you might do with an Arduino or Arduino-compatible device. Meanwhile, Bare Conductive’s Electric Paint — which works with a wide-range of materials from plastic to textiles — provides a great platform for discovering, playing, repairing and designing with electronics.
Coming off an extremely successful Kickstarter campaign, Pi-Bot is a uniquely designed and affordable kit for anyone interested in building and programming robots. Designed by the STEM Center USA crew, the hands-on learning platform is based on the versatile ATmega328. According to STEM Center USA CEO Melissa Jawaharlal, the team designed the Pi-Bot from the ground up to optimize functionality and ensure affordability to its widespread audience, ranging from students to experienced engineers. The kit currently uses standardized C programming language (specifically meant for its Maker-oriented audience), and offers flexibility with its modular chassis, and line following and ultrasonic distance sensors.
Hummingbird Duo Robotics Kit
BirdBrain Technologies (a Carnegie Mellon University spinoff) recently debuted its Hummingbird Duo, a robotics kit powered by an ATmega32U4. The Duo controller serves as the core of all new Hummingbird kits, with a second Atmel chip, an ATtiny24A, tasked with controlling motors and servos. Part of the fun of constructing a robot with this innovative kit is that it’s building material agnostic, meaning a Maker can anything that may be lying around!
Mirobot – created by Ben Pirt – is an an ATmega328 powered DIY robotic kit designed to help teach children about technology. Not only is the open-source bot fun to build and simple to start programming it to draw shapes, the chassis is laser cut and snaps together quite easily. Once connected to a Wi-Fi network, Makers can browse through its on-board webpage and experience its Scratch-like visual programming tool. In fact, Mirobot can even be be programmed in several different ways, including a web-based GUI which is similar to LOGO, albeit with drag and drop.