Tag Archives: ::vtol::

Control this robotic wing with your ears

::vtol:: gives you wings… well, sort of.

Ever wonder what it would be like to give yourself wings or perhaps a tail? Well, Moscow-based artist Dmitry Morozov has. So much so that the Maker, who we’ve come to know as ::vtol::, has developed a robotized installation that does just that.


Commissioned by the Center for Art and Media (ZKM) in Karlsruhe for this year’s GLOBALE: Exo-Evolution exhibition, the aptly named wing project measures eight feet wide and is suspended 10 to 13 feet in the air. And that’s not even the most impressive part — what ::vtol::’s interactive robotic wing can do is mind-blowing.

A thin cable hangs from wing, the end of which is outfitted with dermal miographic sensors that measure the electrical potential of muscles. Visitors are encouraged to place these sensors on their heads just behind the ear and rhythmically swing the object by simply moving their ears.


“The main idea of the project is an ironical and at the same time serious research on the topic of development of new instruments and prostheses as ‘extensions’ of human body and accordingly its possibilities and potentials, which are being revealed by new technologies,” ::vtol:: explains. “At the same time, it’s an attempt to stimulate people to perceive and train the body in a different way, expanding the limits of self-control and self-organization in order to adapt to the new conditions.”

An Arduino Uno (ATmega328) serves as the brains of the operation along with a series of servo motors, linear actuators and cords. As for its software, ::vtol:: is using the Pure Data programming environment.

Intrigued? Check out the project’s official page here, and be sure to watch it in action below!

The Prankophone is a synth for making prank calls

Prankophone is a synthesiser and telephone system hybrid that plays melodies to call recipients generated by their phone numbers.

Russian artist Dmitry Morozov, who we better know as ::vtol::, never ceases to amaze us with his innovative, out-of-the-box projects. Most recently, the Maker has spliced a synthesizer with a telephone and a logic module to create what may be the world’s most annoying machine. (But in the best way possible, of course.)


Who could forget as a kid (or an adult) making prank phone calls using soundboards from sites like eBaum’s World? Well, ::vtol:: has just taken those antics to a whole new level. The aptly named Prankophone is an apparatus which not only calls an unsuspecting person, but plays them an algorithmic melody based on their phone number. The speakers on the device transmit both the synthesized tunes along with the sound from the individual at the other end, but the recipient can only hear noise from the synth.

“Nowadays it’s averting to hear in the phone receiver any sound other than human voice – music means that we have to wait for the answer of the operator, strange electronic noises imply some mistake in decoding,” ::vtol:: explains. “Thus, the sound from Prankophone would be perceived as some kind of mistake, though in reality it is an individual and anonymous sound message, a micro-noise piece which is unique for each number it managed to reach.”


The artist says that was inspired by two historic pieces of technologies crucial to electronic music: the telephone and telegraph. The Prankophone can be set to one of four different modes to call any random number or intended recipients. In manual mode, a user must dial the number of a selected individual the old-fashioned way. Whereas in autonomous mode, the machine will generate the numbers and proceed to dial and emit the sounds all by itself. As its name would suggest, keyboard mode transforms the dialing of a number into a one-octave keyboard with each of the 10 digits correlating to a different musical key. Live mode, however, is a bit different. The number is defined by any of the previous methods, but the sounds aren’t reproduced automatically but from the keyboard, thereby enabling the user to “communicate” through sound with the person who answered on the other line.

“The system of automatic generation of numbers may be calibrated depending on the region, or there is also the international mode which takes into account the phone codes, length of numbers and other parameters,” ::vtol:: adds.


The Prankophone consists of an Arduino Mega (ATmega2560) and a Raspberry Pi at its core, along with a Nokia phone, a two-channel sound system, a GE telephone for its buttons and a one-octave keyboard. In terms of software, the apparatus runs various Python scripts and uses the Pure Data visual programming language. Intrigued? See and hear the gadget in action below, before heading over to the artist’s official page here.

Artist makes music out of spinning fool’s gold

This Arduino-powered synthesizer can turn a 300 million-year-old pyrite disc into tunes.

Pyrite is a common, naturally occurring iron sulfide whose metallic luster and brass-yellow hue has earned itself the well-known nickname of fool’s gold. Despite its abundance in nature, there’s a much rarer form of the mineral which is crystallized in a radial shape resembling that of a disc. Interestingly enough, these so-called ‘pyrite suns’ or ‘pyrite dollars’ can only be found in Illinois, some dating back nearly 300 millions years.


But what if you transformed these historic discs into a vinyl record-like music maker? That’s exactly what media artist Dimitry Morozov — aka ::vtol:: — has done in his latest, out-of-the-ordinary project. Ra can best be defined as a synthesizer which employs a laser reader to scan the irregularities of a pyrite disc and translate that data into sound.

“The project originated as a result of an interesting set of circumstances — a pyrite disc was given to me as a gift by a mineral seller in Boulder City,” ::vtol:: explains. “Upon hearing about my works, she asked to do something with such crystal, and refused to take payment for getting it. In the same period, I was reading articles on various ways of archiving and preservation of sounds from the first, historical sources of the recorded sound — wax discs and other fragile carriers. All technologies were based on the usage of lasers.”


Feeling inspired, the Maker decided to create a laser sound reader of his own, which would be able to produce tunes from various uneven surfaces, like that of the pyrite sun, without the help of many resources. In order to bring his idea to life, all that was required was an Arduino Nano (ATmega328), a Raspberry Pi, a DIY laser pickup/reader, stepper and servo motors, as well as a 3W mono sound system that towers above the machine. (There’s an audio output jack, too.)

Along one edge of Ra’s triangular frame lies a control board that consists of nine switches and 10 knobs for dialing in envelope filters and modulations, setting processor parameters and choosing between 16 DSP effects programs. What’s more, ::vtol:: can manually adjust the position of the custom laser reader, as well as the disc’s spinning speed and direction.

Intrigued? You can listen to Ra’s experimental, eerie and somewhat sci-fi-ish sounds below!

This Arduino-powered instrument turns Bitcoin into sounds

::vtol:: has done it again! This time he has turned cryptocurrencies into tunes with a giant Arduino-powered string instrument.

Although cryptocurrencies may not be printed on paper or metalicized into coins, it doesn’t mean that Bitcoin and Litecoin can’t still be brought to life. Just ask Dmitry Morozov, also known as ::vtol::, who has transformed those digital bits into something quite tangible… music.


The artist’s latest piece, dubbed Silk, is an installation comprised of two six-foot metal towers strung with wire, which tracks the real-time changes in market activities related to cryptocurrencies. Motorized fingers pull one of five strings, with each one representing a different currency, as the rates fluctuate: dollar, Yuan, Euro, Canadian dollar and Ruble. The resulting sound is then picked up by a pair of Dimarzio guitar pickups, and emitted through a set of speakers.

The music is all in the data, however. As the Bitcoin and Litecoin cryptocurrencies change in value against the more traditional currencies, the imagined monetary values generate new melodies and rhythms.

Behind all the magic lies an automatic tuning mechanism comprised of 10 stepper motors and 10 servo motors that is tasked with precisely plucking the wires, all driven by an Arduino board and some MaxMSP and Pure Data programming.


“This piece explores how new technologies and progress in such areas of knowledge as cryptography, mathematics, computer science influence the financial system, inevitably changing the social structure of the society. These changes can be characterised by growing decentralization, transparency, unfalsifiability, immateriality of values,” the artist adds. “The ‘Silk road’ of the future, the global network of Internet is creating its own unit of exchange independent from political and geographical limitations. Bitcoin has no material analogue, and may be only conditionally compared to existing currencies, in fact being a protocol of values transfer. Technologies of future stimulate creation of virtual entities, which still have no less real meaning – and Bitcoin is one of the first examples.”

Okay, so although it’s not the most harmonic and soothing tunes you’ve ever heard, it’s pretty mesmerizing if you ask us. See for yourself below!

This Arduino-powered baton will tell on you if you hit someone

Nice going, tattletale! Don’t hit someone or else this billy club will tell your mother. 

Moscow-based Maker ::vtol:: and his art-inspired projects have are no stranger to the Atmel Bits & Pieces blog. Whether it’s modding a typewriter to print ASCII selfies or turning air pollution into images, the hacker-artist continues to surprise us with new innovations. Added to the growing list is a police baton equipped with a GSM-module and powered by an Arduino that automatically sends a text message reading “Mom, I hit a man” to your mother whenever it is used to strike someone.


The idea for Antenna was conceived following the latest string of incidents surrounding police brutality. While a number of states, including California, are putting body cameras on cops in hopes of reducing violence and complaints, vtol:: had a something else in mind — a concept that would incorporate “maternity as the last stronghold of human kindness and responsibility.” After all, no matter what age you are, there’s nothing worse than getting reprimanded by mom! And so, the Maker combined this childhood (and adulthood) fear with a connected device to strictly curb any unnecessary cruelty.


Its setup is pretty straightforward: An Arduino is attached to a piezo sensor to detect impact, while a GSM shield handles the SMS messaging. Whether or not it’s practical, it’s still a pretty neat creation to say the least. See it in action below!

This modded typewriter will print you an ASCII art selfie

But first, let me type a selfie.

Well, what do you know? Another week, another impressive project from Moscow-based technological artist Dmitry Morozov — otherwise known as ::vtol::. Just the other day, the Maker devised an innovative way to capture 8-bit instant photos using a camera masquerading as a gun. Now, he has managed to mod a Brother SX-4000 typewriter to produce even lower res pics, this time in the form of ASCII art images. (For those unfamiliar with ASCII art, its widespread usage can be traced to the computer bulletin board systems of the late 1970s and early 1980s.)


The typewriter, which is controlled by an Arduino Mega (ATmega2560), works by capturing an image from a camera, converting it into ASCII art using Pure Data and MAX/MSP, and slowly printing it onto a piece of paper — one character at a time.


The project, dubbed I/O, was recently on display at the 101 Festival where a number of onlookers had the chance to stand before a lamp and camera, then wait as their portrait was typed out. You can see it in action below!

This Arduino-based installation turns Google searches into music

Maker uses the popularity of others as the input for creating electronic music.

By now, you’re probably well aware that Moscow-based innovator Dmitry Morozov is no stranger to the Bits & Pieces blog with his unique Arduino-based installations. Just when we thought we’ve seen it all, from making eery tunes by crushing electronic devices to turning air pollution into contemporary art, the Maker has returned with his latest project: Kalculator.


Designed as a special piece for Moscow’s Museum and Exhibition Center, the installation uses the popularity of others to generate electronic music. A user selects one of 18 names from a chart listing top Russian artists. Within moments, the program conducts a Google search and returns the amount of times that the chosen name was mentioned throughout the web. This information is monitored and displayed on an Android tablet.

From there, a special algorithm transforms the number into a form of sound composition emitted through a pair of speakers. The complexity and duration of the tune is directly correlated with the amount of times that the particular name was mentioned. Meanwhile, the project was powered by an Arduino Mega (ATmega2560).

Intrigued? You can watch the piece in action below.

Gbg-8 isn’t like any other Polaroid camera

With a click of the trigger, the gbg-8 shoots… a photo!

No stranger to Bits & Pieces, Moscow-based artist Dmitry Morozov has created a rather strange yet innovative DIY camera unlike anything you’ve probably seen before. In essence, the gbg-8 is an 8-bit instant photo camera masquerading as a gun, which was designed using an old Game Boy, a camera, a thermal printer and an Arduino.


How it works is pretty simple. The camera is used by pointing the barrel at something and pulling the trigger. This captures a picture through the camera, displays it on the old Game Boy screen, and sends it to the thermal printer where it’s printed on to receipt paper.


While the device probably should not be brought into public, Morozov’s project is certainly a clever piece of cyberpunk gadgetry. You can watch it in action below, or read up on the gbg-8 on its official page here.

Producing a sonohaptical experience with Arduino

A 3-axis machine controlled by finger movements makes for a unique touch and sound performance.

The collaboration of Jakub Koźniewski and Dmitry Morozov (who you may know as ::vtol::) have devised a slick audio-tactile project that they call The FingerThe mechanism, which performed at the recent MusicMakers Hacklab at the 2015 CTM Festival in Berlin, is comprised of two parts.


First, Koźniewski designed a 3-axis machine dubbed Sonohaptic. This device brings together both tactile sensations and sound by moving its robotic head equipped with a piezo sensor along the arm of the wearer, picking up tiny vibrations and translating them into some sci-fi-like tunes.


Meanwhile, One-Finger is a wireless controller created by ::vtol:: that enables sound production through the use of a finger equipped with a number of components. The wearable contraption is embedded with various sensors (bend, sonar, tilt and pulse), a Nord Modular G2, an Arduino Uno (ATmega328), as well as a Bluetooth module for communication.


When the pair is combined, a user can control the Sonohaptic through finger movements as it touches another person with the machine, thereby producing a “sonohaptical” experience. Intrigued? Not only can you read about the project here, be sure to watch it in action below.

This installation makes music out of crushing your belongings

Who knew slowly-crushed toys, electronics and accessories could make such haunting tunes?

Dmitry Morozov— who many refer to as ::vtol::—has returned yet again with another interactive installation. Just days after directing a symphony of robots, the artist is now looking to destroy any object that might happen to be on a person for the sake of sound composition. The unique project, called Oil, is comprised of five 10-ton hydraulic presses that crush practically anything, albeit an expensive smartphone, a pair of cheap glasses or anything in between.


In the process of destruction, a special microphone records the sounds made as the object undergoes deformation, and in just a few minutes, a computer algorithm transforms them into a 20 minutes album. Aside from a customized mic, each Oil station consists of an Arduino Uno (ATmega328), a Mac Mini, and an Apple CD drive. As visitors approach the shop press, they are instructed to steadily pump levers which bear down on an object (in some cases, even a maneki-neko figurine), as it expectedly emits crunching and cracking sounds.


“The project is intended to provoke visitors into spontaneously ridding themselves of material consumer objects for the sake of creating their own individual work of art via deprivation, divestment and destruction. Sound has been taken as the chief medium here with good reason, since sound art is perhaps the least material and most abstract of all genres in art,” ::vtol:: explains. “The technological aesthetic involved constitutes an ironic attempt to make the process of art production into a technological process, but the result, unlike that of mass production, demonstrates a contrary phenomenon – this is a work involving programming and code in the context of generative art, with the potential to broaden the range of instruments at art’s disposal.”

::vtol:: set parameters for how the sound would be processed using Pure Data, Max/MSP and AppleScript software programs. However, as you can imagine, the way in which each thing breaks is unique — especially when a 10-ton hydraulic press is at the helm.


So what do the participants get in exchange for destructing their possessions? The sound production is automatically recorded onto an audio CD and then handed over to the participant, of course. For those wondering if anyone would contribute to the ATmega328 driven installation, over the course of its exhibit commissioned by Moscow’s Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, 1,574 tracks were distributed. Looks like ::vtol:: crushed it yet again. (Literally.)

Those interested in learning more can head over to the project’s official page here.