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The Spirit Of The 80s Lives On In A MIDI Harmonica

1 ชั่วโมง 50 minก่อน

In the 1980s, there was a synthesizer that you could play like a harmonica. This device was called the Millioniser 2000. It utilized HIP (Harmonica In Principle) technology. The Millioniser 2000 was a breath controller wrapped in chrome-colored plastic embossed with its logo in an odd, pre-vaporwave aesthetic, and connected to a gray and green sheet metal enclosure loaded up with DIN jacks. The Millioniser 2000 is absolutely the pinnacle of late 70s, early 80s design philosophy. If it were painted brown, the Universe would implode.

Because of the rarity and downright weirdness of a harmonica synthesizer from the 80s, prices on the used market are through the roof. Musicians are a weird bunch. However, this does give someone the opportunity to recreate this bizarre instrument, and that’s exactly what [John Lassen] did for his entry for the Hackaday Prize.

While this isn’t as complex as the Millioniser 2000, it does have the same basic user interface. There’s a pressure sensor that measures how much you’re blowing. There’s a slider to change which notes are played, and there are a few buttons to change parameters, like the MIDI channel, a midi controller, or a transpose function. The electronics, like so many of the entries to the Musical Instrument Challenge in the Hackaday Prize, are built around the Teensy and it’s incredible audio library.

The HackadayPrize2018 is Sponsored by:

Sidney Darlington

3 hours 20 minก่อน

In a field where components and systems are often known by sterile strings of characters that manufacturers assign or by cutesy names that are clearly products of the marketing department and their focus groups, having your name attached to an innovation is rare. Rarer still is the case where the mere mention of an otherwise obscure inventor’s name brings up a complete schematic in the listener’s mind.

Given how rarely such an honor is bestowed, we’d be forgiven to think that Sidney Darlington’s only contribution to electronics is the paired transistor he invented in the 1950s that bears his name to this day. His long career yielded so much more, from network synthesis theory to rocket guidance systems that would eventually take us to the Moon. The irony is that the Darlington pair that made his name known to generations of engineers and hobbyists was almost an afterthought, developed after a weekend of tinkering.

A Passion for Networks

With her background as a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse on the edge of the American prairie, Sidney Darlington’s mother was determined that her children would have the best educations possible. His father, a mechanical engineer, was likely an influence on Sidney and his brother Philip, both of whom embarked on scientific careers. Philip chose biology while Sidney chose physics, which he studied at Harvard. After graduating in 1928, he earned a second B.S. in electrical engineering the following year from MIT.

Sidney Darlington. Source: IEEE

Having been instilled with a passion for circuit analysis by his professors, in 1929 Sidney went to work at Bell Laboratories, then the center of the electrical engineering universe. He quickly found his way to the lab’s Mathematics Research Center, where his interest in circuit analysis would prove key to designing the complex filter networks needed to support the nascent technology of multiplexing, which can be used to stuff multiple telephone signals through one cable.

At the time, filter design was largely a trial and error affair where different filtering stages were connected together to achieve the desired result. This was inefficient from a design standpoint, and the filters often ended up not behaving quite as intended due to loading introduced by the various stages. Darlington’s method of filter design, known as network synthesis, took these impedances into account from the start, resulting in better filters and better networks.

Having already established a name for himself as well as a legacy, and with World War II in the offing, Darlington turned his work toward military needs. His theoretical bent and gift for mathematics made the problems involved with putting munitions on target an interesting one, and Darlington ended up making significant contributions to both bombsight designs and fire control systems for artillery. Near the end of the war he took a leave of absence from Bell to join the 14th Antiaircraft Command in the South Pacific as a civilian advisor.

More Than The Sum

With the conclusion of the war and the ensuing rush to switch basic research from military goals to commercial targets, Bell Labs swung into high gear, and Darlington played no small part in the activity. The invention of the transistor in 1947 by colleagues William Shockley, John Bardeen, and Walter Brattain piqued Darlington’s passion for circuit theory. By the early 1950s, the transistor had been transformed from physics lab oddity to an engineered commercial product, and Darlington grabbed a few to play with on his way home one day. The silicon transistors the Bell Labs had were relatively low-gain units, and Darlington was keen to find ways to increase the gain.

Darlington Pair. Note the suggestion of monolithic construction. Darlington lamented that if the patent lawyer hadn’t insisted on showing only two transistors, every integrated circuit would have had to pay royalties to Bell Labs. Source: U.S. Patent 2,663,806

He breadboarded a few circuits before hitting on a paired topology – common collectors with the emitter of the first transistor tied to the base of the second. He reasoned that the pair would behave like a single transistor but with more current gain. He thought the gain would double, turning a pair of transistors with a gain of five into a single device with a gain of ten. He was surprised to learn that the gains multiplied, giving a gain of 25.

Knowing that he had a major innovation on his hands, he worked up the device back in the lab, characterizing the properties of compound transistors. He tried different circuits, some with common emitters rather than common collectors, and some with three transistors ganged together. But the common collector pair of NPN transistors was the most promising. Apart from the huge gain increase, the common collector arrangement naturally favored a simple fabrication method, where the two transistors could be built on a single slab of N-type silicon. Such an arrangement is described in Darlington’s 1953 patent application, and is one of the first suggestions that complex circuits could be built up monolithically on a single substrate.

Darlington pair in a decapped TO-3 case. The die is bonded to the emitter (top) and base (bottom) leads, while the case serves as the common collector. Source: Wikipedia

Darlington would enjoy another two decades at Bell Labs, retiring in 1971. In that time he would also invent a guidance system for rockets that would find its way into the Titan I and Thor-Delta boosters, helping to usher in the Space Age. He also turned his signal processing prowess to radar, inventing a pulse compression or “chirp” radar system that became critical in the development of anti-ballistic-missile radar systems.

For as rich and inventive a life as Sidney Darlington lived, it seems fitting that we remember him today mainly for something he just whipped up at the bench one weekend. Much like any of us, he just wanted to press the limits of a new technology, and he was one of the lucky ones that found something so simple and so useful that his name lives on.

Putting a Motor Inside a Speed Controller

อังคาร, 10/23/2018 - 22:30

One of the more interesting hacks we’ve seen this year is [Carl]’s experimentations with making motors out of PCBs. Honestly, it’s surprising no one has done this before — a brushless motor is just some coils of wire and a few magnets; anyone can turn some coils into traces and make a 3D print that will hold a few magnets. This latest advancement is something else entirely. It’s a motor and an electronic speed controller all in one.

This project is a continuation of [Carl]’s PCB motor project, which started with him routing coils for a brushless motor as traces in a circuit board. Previously, we’ve seen [Carl]’s motor spinning on its own with the help of a small hobby ESC / motor controller meant for model planes and drones. This time, we’ve got something different. It’s an entire controller and motor, integrated into one single PCB.

This is a very, very small motor and ESC combo. The motor driver is a 3x3mm QFN package, and most of the other components are 0201. The main parts are a very tiny triple half-bridge motor driver and a PIC16F microcontroller. This PIC reads a hall sensor to detect the speed of the motor, and with just three pins — power, ground, and a PWM pin — this motor can spin at a set speed.

The future goals of this project are to make it work just like any other hobby ESC — just plug it into a servo controller and let ‘er rip. Since this motor with an integrated PCB requires only three connections, we’re looking at a great tool to add motion and rotation to any project. It’s fantastic, and we can’t wait to see something like this in robots, toys, and other home goods.

Hack My House: ZoneMinder’s Keeping an Eye on the Place

อังคาร, 10/23/2018 - 21:00

Hacks are often born out of unfortunate circumstances. My unfortunate circumstance was a robbery– the back door of the remodel was kicked in, and a generator was carted off. Once the police report was filed and the door screwed shut, it was time to order cameras. Oh, and record the models and serial numbers of all my tools.

We’re going to use Power over Ethernet (POE) network cameras and a ZoneMinder install. ZoneMinder has a network trigger capability, and we’ll wire some magnetic switches to our network of PXE booting Pis, using those to inform the Zoneminder server of door opening events. Beyond that, many newer cameras support the Open Network Video Interface Forum (ONVIF) protocol and can do onboard motion detection. We’ll use the same script, running on the Pi, to forward those events as well.

Many of you have pointed out that Zoneminder isn’t the only option for open source camera management. MotionEyeOS, Pikrellcam, and Shinobi are all valid options.  I’m most familiar with Zoneminder, even interviewing them on FLOSS Weekly, so that’s what I’m using.  Perhaps at some point we can revisit this decision, and compare the existing video surveillance systems.

Cameras and Installation

Zoneminder generally works with any camera that follows the modern standards.  I’m using a handful of four-megapixel Trendnet  TV-IP314PI cameras, which seem to be the sweet spot for cost and quality. These cameras have a particularly odd quirk that took me several days to understand. To get motion detection running on the camera itself, I needed to update the camera firmware, but the browser interface simply refused to select a firmware file to upload. Many IP cameras make use of a browser plugin to view the live stream, and older firmware on the Trendnet units also require that plugin in order to upload the firmware update. I finally turned to a Windows 7 VM, installed the browser plugin, and got the firmware updated.

Camera placement takes planning to be effective. Coverage of the front and back doors is a must, and seeing whether your garage door is open is quite useful as well. I also decided to cover all the windows. If you can manage, it’s useful to stretch the Ethernet cable around the outside of the house, and hold the camera in place while you or a buddy pulls it up on a cell phone, in order to find the best placement. All told, I hung nine cameras.

Ethernet in Living Color Ethernet, lots of Ethernet.

If you’re keeping track, that’s a grand total of many Ethernet cables. To help when sorting them out, I bought several colors of cabling: red, green, yellow, blue, and white. I highly recommend a color code. Mine goes like this: PoE cameras use yellow Ethernet, Raspberry Pis use red. Each room of the house gets two more cables, white for a VoIP phone and blue for a generic connection to the network. The green cable is for running something other than Ethernet over Cat 5, like a door or temperature sensor.

When I finish the interior, I’ll terminate these Ethernet cables on a set of patch panels, using color matching keystone jacks. The colors are more than just a novelty– when you’ve run a bunch of cables, it’s far too easy to lose track of which one is which.

Some ports need PoE and some don’t. I’m also planning to use VLANs to separate the various networks. Once it’s all done, we can take a deeper dive into selecting and configuring the smart switches that run the house. Keeping the Ethernet cabling as neat as possible will make the eventual configuration task much more manageable.


Zoneminder has some great documentation on how to get an install up and running, so rather than cover that ground again, we’ll look closer at how to use the Raspberry Pi network to link door sensors and ONVIF motion detection into the loop. To this end, I’ve put together the zmhelper service, and made the code available on GitHub. Well look at the more interesting snippets below.

Zmtrigger is the Zoneminder component we’ll be talking to, and it listens on TCP port 6802. On the Zoneminder server, we’ll need to open that port in the firewall, and then enable the OPT_TRIGGERS option through the web interface. This allows our service, running on a Pi, to inform Zoneminder that something important happened, and that it should start recording. Zoneminder can do motion detection natively, but offloading that work can be helpful when trying to run multiple cameras.

Speaking GPIO

A door sensor is just a simple magnetic switch installed into the door jamb. When the door is closed, the magnet in the door pulls the switch closed, completing the circuit. The Pi’s GPIO ports are perfect to monitor this. One wire from the sensor goes to ground, the other to the GPIO pin. It’s best to put a resistor between that pin and the switch, to protect in the case of accidentally powering it. Some of the GPIO pins go high or low during the boot process, and shorting a hot GPIO directly to ground is a BAD THING(tm). Some of you might be thinking about pull-up resistors. The Raspberry Pi has software configurable pull-up and pull-down resistors that are already built in, so we don’t need the external resistors.

GPIO event detection isn’t limited to just door sensors. Motion detectors are the other interesting possibility. I hope to eventually look at this in more detail, in the context of retooling an old security system to be powered by a Pi.

Rather than poll that GPIO pin every few seconds, we set up an interrupt handler.  This allows the event reporting code to trigger more quickly, and allows us to watch for ONVIF events at the same time. The other bit of magic going on here is the debouncing logic. The GPIO library does well at filtering out the bounces when there is a legitimate trigger, like the door opening. It fails at filtering out the bounces generated by the switch closing. To overcome this, we sleep for the bouncetime and check the GPIO status again.

GPIO.setmode(GPIO.BOARD) GPIO.setup(gpio_pinnum, GPIO.IN, pull_up_down=gpio_resistor) def handler(pin): time.sleep(gpio_bouncetime/1000) if GPIO.input(gpio_pinnum) == gpio_active_state: #Debounce check. If we're still active, it's a real event. s = socket.socket(socket.AF_INET, socket.SOCK_STREAM) s.connect((zmip, zmport)) s.send(gpio_mid +'|on+20|' + gpio_escore + '|' + gpio_ecause + '|' + gpio_etext) s.close() print("DOOR opened!") GPIO.add_event_detect(gpio_pinnum, gpio_edge, handler, bouncetime=gpio_bouncetime) ONVIF Events

If ONVIF is configured, then we connect to the camera, pull any events in the cue, and wait for new events. The code here is blocking– it stops and waits for the response from the camera. That response is intentionally delayed until a new event is ready. The code then scans through the event data looking for whether there was motion detected.

mycam = ONVIFCamera(camIP, 80, username, password, wsdl_dir='/home/pi/.local/wsdl/') event_service = mycam.create_events_service() pullpoint = mycam.create_pullpoint_service() req = pullpoint.create_type('PullMessages') req.MessageLimit=100 while True: messages = Client.dict(pullpoint.PullMessages(req)) if 'NotificationMessage' in messages: try: messages = messages['NotificationMessage'] for x in messages: message = Client.dict(Client.dict(Client.dict(Client.dict(Client.dict(x)['Message'])['Message'])['Data'])['SimpleItem']) if message['_Name'] == 'IsMotion' and message['_Value'] == 'true': if time.time() - last_trigger > 15: print("Triggering!") last_trigger = time.time() s = socket.socket(socket.AF_INET, socket.SOCK_STREAM) s.connect((zmip, zmport)) s.send(onvif_mid +'|on+20|' + onvif_escore+ '|' + onvif_ecause + '|' + onvif_etext) s.close() break except: print('Error fetching event')

We’ve looked at our first real use of the Raspberry Pi, feeding events into a Zoneminder instance. There’s more to come, like breaking the proprietary protocol on a garage door opener, building a touchscreen thermostat, and looking at how to securely access everything remotely. As always, sound off below about what you want to see in the future. Until next time, Happy Hacking!

Slack on the SNES via Satellite

อังคาร, 10/23/2018 - 18:00

We love seeing hardware and software from bygone eras getting a new lease on life through modern hacks, as longtime readers can surely attest to. Why leave this stuff to rot in a closet somewhere when it can be pushed into service today? Granted it might not always be the most efficient way to accomplish a task in the 21st century, but at least you’ll net some precious Internet Points for originality.

As a perfect example, take a look at this project which lets you read Slack messages through a Super Nintendo game. If your first thought was that such a thing would involve an unreasonable amount of effort and hoop jumping…then you would be correct. [Bertrand Fan] really had to think outside the box to make this one happen, and even admits a bit of imagination is required on the part of the end-user to use it. But it’s undeniably an original approach, so we hereby bestow the customary Internet Points unto him.

So how does this work, and where do the satellites come in? The key is in a fairly obscure Japanese SNES peripheral called the Satellaview, one of Nintendo’s early attempts at creating an online content delivery system for their consoles. Games designed with Satellaview support would be able to pull down new content from regular satellite broadcasts, not too bad for 1995. This means that if you have the hardware, and happen to own a satellite, you can push your own content into an unmodified SNES. No problem, right?

Alright, [Bertrand] didn’t really use a Satellaview modem plugged into an actual SNES. Plus we’re fairly sure he doesn’t have his own satellite network to broadcast Slack messages with anyway. But it turns out some SNES emulators have support for a virtual Satellaview modem, and there’s even software out there that will let you create new content “downloads” for the system’s included game: BS-X: The Story of The Town Whose Name Was Stolen. All he had to do was connect the dots.

[Bertrand] started by stripping the user interface out of SatellaWave, an open source tool for creating Satellaview content, so that it only need to be provided with an XML file of the content to be “downloaded” by the virtual satellite modem. Using the Slack API, he then came up with way to pull the last 10 messages from a server and push them into his modified version of SatellaWave. Each time somebody posts a new message his software kicks in to produce a new satellite download which automatically gets picked up by the SNES emulator and pops up in the game.

If this is still too practical for you, you can always go all in and run Slack on your Commodore 64.

$3 Multimeter Teardown

อังคาร, 10/23/2018 - 15:00

[Diode Gone Wild] and his cat decided to see how a $3 meter worked inside. The meter was marked as a DT-830B and he already had an older one of the same model, and he wondered how they could afford to sell it — including shipping — for $3. You can see a video of his testing, teardown, and reverse engineering below.

What was odd is that despite having the same model number, the size of the meter was a bit different. When he opened the case to install a battery, he noticed the board didn’t look like it had fuses or components appropriate for the rated voltages. He decided the missing parts might be under the board and tested the meter.

In all fairness, for $3, the meter agreed pretty well with his other meters. The AC scale appeared to be little more than a diode feeding the DC meter with some slightly different engineering unit conversion coefficients. Not the most accurate way, but certainly in line with what you’d expect from a $3 meter. Afterward, though, the case and PCB came out and there were no additional components on the other side of the board.

The original DT-830B had beefy resistors where it needed them and — most importantly — a fuse for the current measuring function. The new one had a marking on the case about the type of fuse it uses, but inside there was no fuse, even though there were PCB pads that could have been for a fuse.

Maybe those parts weren’t necessary? After sketching out the schematic, the video shows that in fact, the voltage and power dissipation really did require bigger components. In addition, a connection error could easily put very high voltages right to the IC.

This looked a lot like the DT-832 we saw a while back. That one had a fuse, though, and we aren’t sure if it had better-rated resistors or not. We’ve also seen cheap meters with fuses that weren’t actually used.

Real Time Satellite Tracker Shows You What’s Going Over Your Head

อังคาร, 10/23/2018 - 12:00

Whilst modern technology relies heavily on satellites, it’s easy to forget they’re there; after all, it’s hard to comprehend mostly-invisible lumps of high-density tech whizzing around above you at ludicrous speeds. Of course, it’s not hard to comprehend if you’ve built a real-time satellite tracker which displays exactly what’s in orbit above your head at any given time. [Paul Klinger]’s creation shows the position of satellites passing through a cylinder of 200 km radius above the tracker.

Each layer of LEDs represents a specific band of altitude, whilst the colour of the LEDs and text on the screen represent the type of object. The LEDs themselves are good old WS2812b modules, soldered to a custom PCB and mounted in a 3D-printed stand. The whole thing is a really clean build and looks great – you can see it in action in the video after the break

On the software side, a Raspberry Pi is in charge, running Python which makes use of pyorbital for some of the heavy lifting. The data is taken from space-track.org, who provide a handy API. All the code is on the project GitHub, which also includes the 3D print and PCB files.

[Paul] answers questions in the reddit thread, and gives more detail in this reddit comment. The project was inspired by one of our favorite sites: stuffin.space.

Some of the satellites the device displays are de-commisioned and inactive. Space junk is a significant problem, one which can only be tackled by a space garbage truck.

Jump into AI with a Neural Network of your Own

อังคาร, 10/23/2018 - 09:00

One of the difficulties in learning about neural networks is finding a problem that is complex enough to be instructive but not so complex as to impede learning. [ThomasNield] had an idea: Create a neural network to learn if you should put a light or dark font on a particular colored background. He has a great video explaining it all (see below) and code in Kotlin.

[Thomas] is very interested in optimization, so his approach is very much based on mathematics and algorithms of optimization. One thing that’s handy is that there is already an algorithm for making this determination. He found it on Stack Exchange, but we’re sure it’s in a textbook or paper somewhere. The existing algorithm makes the neural network really impractical, but it makes training easy since you can algorithmically develop a training set of data.

Once trained, the neural network works well. He wrote a small GUI and you can even select among various models.

Don’t let the Kotlin put you off. It is a derivative of Java and uses the same JVM. The code is very similar, other than it infers types and also adds functional program tools. However, the libraries and the principles employed will work with Java and, in many cases, the concepts will apply no matter what you are doing.

If you want to hardware accelerate your neural networks, there’s a stick for that. If you prefer C and you want something lean and mean, try TINN.

Wave-Powered Glider Delivers Your Message In A Bottle

อังคาร, 10/23/2018 - 06:00

Setting a bottle adrift with a message in it is, by most measures, an act of desperation. The sea regularly swats mighty ships to their doom, so what chance would a tiny glass bottle have bobbing along the surface, subject as it is to wind, waves, and current? Little to none, it would seem, unless you skew the odds a bit with a wave-powered undersea glider to the help the bottle along.

Before anyone gets too worked up about this, [Rulof Maker]’s “Sea Glider” is about a low-tech as a device with moving parts can be. This craft, built from a scrap of teak and a busted wooden ruler, is something that could be assembled in a few hours from whatever you have on hand, even if you’re marooned on an uncharted desert isle. The body of the craft sprouts a set of horizontal planes that can swivel up and down independently. The key to providing a modicum of thrust is that each plane is limited to a 90° swing by stop blocks above and below the pivot. The weighted glider, tethered to the bottle, bobs up and down below the waves, flapping the planes and providing a tiny bit of thrust.

Was it enough to propel the bottle any great distance? We won’t ruin the surprise, but we will say that [Rulof]’s essentially zero-cost build appears to have improved the message in a bottle bandwidth at least somewhat. It’s not a Hackaday Prize-winning robotic sea glider, but it’s a neat hack nonetheless.

Once again, thanks to [Baldpower] for the tip.

Robot + Trumpet = Sad Trombone.mp3

อังคาร, 10/23/2018 - 03:00

[Uri Shaked] is really into Latin music. When his interest crescendoed, he bought a trumpet in order to make some energetic tunes of his own. His enthusiasm flagged a bit when he realized just how hard it is to get reliably trumpet-like sounds out of the thing, but he wasn’t about to give up altogether. Geekcon 2018 was approaching, so he thought, why not make a robot that can play the trumpet for me?

He scoured the internet and found that someone else had taken pains 20 years ago to imitate embouchure with a pair of latex lips (think rubber glove fingers filled with water). Another soul had written about measuring air flow with regard to brass instruments. Armed with this info, [Uri] and partners [Ariella] and [Avi] spent a few hours messing around with air pumps, latex, and water and came up with a proof of concept that sounds like—and [Uri]’s description is spot-on—a broken robotic didgeridoo. It worked, but the sound was choppy.

Fast forward to Geekcon. In a flash of brilliance, [Avi] thought to add capacitance to the equation. He suggested that they use a plastic box as a buffer for air, and it worked. [Ariella] 3D printed some fingers to actuate the valves, but the team ultimately ended up with wooden fingers driven by servos. The robo-trumpet setup lasted just long enough to get a video, and then a servo promptly burned out. Wah wahhhh. Purse your lips and check it out after the break.

If [Uri] ever gets fed up with the thing, he could always turn it into a game controller a la Trumpet Hero.

The Incredible Judges Of The Hackaday Prize

อังคาร, 10/23/2018 - 01:31

The time to enter The Hackaday Prize has ended, but that doesn’t mean we’re done with the world’s greatest hardware competition just yet. Over the past few months, we’ve gotten a sneak peek at over a thousand amazing projects, from Open Hardware to Human Computer Interfaces. This is a contest, though, and to decide the winner, we’re tapping some of the greats in the hardware world to judge these astonishing projects.

Below are just a preview of the judges in this year’s Hackaday Prize. We’re sending the judging sheets out to them, tallying the results, and in less than two weeks we’ll announce the winners of the Hackaday Prize at the Hackaday Superconference in Pasadena. This is not an event to be missed — not only are we going to hear some fantastic technical talks from the hardware greats, but we’re also going to see who will walk away with the Grand Prize of $50,000.

Mitch Altman

Mitch’s early claim to fame is inventing the TV-B-Gone, a device that is so devious it got several Gizmodo reporters banned from CES for life. I suppose the idea was to punish those Gizmodo reporters, but as we all know being banned from CES is a blessing in disguise. Mitch has been published in Make Magazine, 2600, and is a mentor at the HAX accelerator. He is the co-founder of Noisebridge, the legendary San Francisco hackerspace, president and CEO of Cornfield Electronics, and makes his way around to various hacker gatherings where he’s always more than eager to teach people the ins and outs of electronics, soldering, and teaching cool things.

Chris from Clickspring

Clickspring, or Chris as he’s called by people IRL, has made his mark by being one of the best machinist channels on YouTube. Chris began making videos several years ago by recreating a brass clock in his home machine shop. Over the course of several months and millions of views on YouTube, Chris delved deep into the technology of making a clock out of brass stock using the most minimal machine tools. Currently, Chris is working on a multi-part video series where he’s constructing a replica of the Antikythera Mechanism using only technology that would have been available to a Greek engineer around the year 100 BC. This is, simply, one of the greatest feats of experimental archaeology, and it’s happening right now on Chris’ YouTube channel.

Kristin Paget

Kristin ‘Hacker Princess’ Paget is currently working at Lyft designing security systems for self-driving cars and futzing about with wireless security. For fun, she builds IMSI catchers and RFID cloners, and has given talks at the Hackaday Superconference about the laws of IoT Security and at Shmoocon about how terrible contactless credit cards actually are. When it comes to wireless security, Kristin is who you want to talk to, and she was instrumental in getting the FBI off my back that one time.

Ayah Bdeir

Ayah Bdier is the founder and CEO of littleBits, an award-winning platform of easy-to-use electronic building blocks that are empowering kids everywhere to create inventions large and small. Bdeir is an engineer, interactive artist, and one of the cofounders of the Open Hardware Summit. An alumna of the MIT Media Lab, Bdeir was named a TED Senior Fellow in 2013. She’s been featured on CNBC for building the future with next-generation toys, and talking about the importance of providing children with educational and gender-neutral toys.


These are just a few of the amazingly accomplished judges we have lined up to determine the winner of this year’s Hackaday Prize. The winner will be announced on November 3rd at the Hackaday Superconference. There are still tickets available, but if you can’t make it, don’t worry. We’re going to be live streaming everything, including the prize ceremony, where one team will walk away with the grand prize of $50,000. It’s not an event to miss.

The HackadayPrize2018 is Sponsored by:

A Close Look at the Prusa i3 MK3

อังคาร, 10/23/2018 - 00:00

The Prusa i3 MK3 is, for lack of a better word, inescapable. Nearly every hacker or tech event that I’ve attended in 2018 has had dozens of them humming away, and you won’t get long looking up 3D printing on YouTube or discussion forums without somebody singing its praises. Demand for Prusa’s latest i3 printer is so high that there’s a literal waiting list to get one.

At the time of this writing, over a year after the printer was officially put up for sale, there’s still nearly a month lead time on the assembled version. Even longer if you want to wait on the upgraded powder coated bed, which has unfortunately turned out to be a considerable production bottleneck. But the team has finally caught up enough that the kit version of the printer (minus the powder coated bed) is currently in stock and shipping next day.

I thought this was a good a time as any to pull the trigger on the kit and see for myself what all the excitement is about. Now that I’ve had the Prusa i3 MK3 up and running for a couple of weeks, I can say with confidence that it’s not just hype. It isn’t a revolution in desktop 3D printing, but it’s absolutely an evolution, and almost certainly represents the shape of things to come for the next few years.

That said, it isn’t perfect. There’s still a few elements of the design that left me scratching my head a bit, and some parts of the assembly weren’t quite as smooth as the rest. I’ve put together some of those observations below. This isn’t meant to be a review of the Prusa i3 MK3 printer, there’s more than enough of those already, but hopefully these assorted notes may be of use to anyone thinking of jumping on the Prusa bandwagon now that production has started really ramping up.

Bed Selection

Before going any farther, I want to address what is surely the biggest question for anyone looking to buy the Prusa i3 MK3: which bed surface to choose?

Prusa continues to struggle to produce enough of the powder coated PEI beds to keep up with demand, and as of this writing, there’s an additional three-week lead time on the beds themselves. In other words, the kits are ready to go right now, but if you want the upgraded bed, which comes at no additional cost, your kit may end up sitting in a pending status for up to three weeks while you wait in line to get the bed.

The main difference between the standard and upgraded beds is the surface texture of the printed parts. The standard bed leaves a bottom which is shiny and almost mirror smooth, while the powder coated bed gives the bottom of prints a matte textured surface. While the textured bed in theory should have even better adhesion thanks to an increase of surface area, it’s largely an aesthetic distinction.

So should you wait? Personally I didn’t, and received the standard bed which consists of a replaceable PEI sticker on a spring steel sheet. This is still a fantastic bed, with phenomenal adhesion and some of the easiest part removal I’ve ever experienced with a stock 3D printer bed: simply remove the spring steel sheet and flex it to pop the parts off. It’s also worth noting that, eventually, the powder coated beds will be added to the Prusa online store for separate purchase at $25 USD.

Kit Assembly

I’ve built my share of 3D printers over the years, and I can say confidently that this was the best kit I’ve ever assembled. If you’ve been put off from ordering the MK3 kit because of the perceived difficulty of assembling it, don’t be. The MK3 comes with a printed assembly manual (though checking the online version gives you the benefit of seeing comments from other owners) and the bags of parts are separated by assembly step. You don’t need to lay out all the pieces on a big table to find that one specific part; just grab the bag that corresponds with the current step of assembly, and you have everything you need.

It was also nice to see a well-stocked “Spares” bag that has at least one extra of nearly every piece of hardware in the kit. This is especially important as the kit makes use of somewhat uncommon fasteners, such as square nuts. That said, there are still a few tiny parts in the kit that don’t have any spares, such as the bearings inside the extruder, so a tray to securely hold the lose parts during assembly is a must.

Incidentally, the kit does technically include all of the tools you need to assemble it. But given the number of screws, and the fact you want them pretty well torqued down in most cases, I would suggest using a lightweight screw gun with a reliable clutch so you can quickly run in screws with consistent torque.

Rough Spots

While the kit and the documentation is fantastic overall, there were a few areas which slowed me down during the build. The main one was undoubtedly getting the frame squared up early on. You need to screw the aluminum extrusion to the vertical frame, and the manual explains that it’s critical to get this assembly as square as possible for optimal performance. But the manual fails to specify just how close it needs to be, nor does it give much in the way of guidance for adjusting it if you find the alignment to be off.

Image from Prusa’s online manual

After consulting the comment section of the online manual, as well as various forums online, I eventually came to two conclusions: not only is it nearly impossible to get the frame perfectly square, it also doesn’t matter a whole lot. The printer will automatically compensate for a slight misalignment, and officially Prusa considers anything under a few millimeters of deviation to be normal.

Another problem area is mounting the linear bearings on the bottom of the printer’s bed. Rather than a specific bearing holder, the MK3 uses a single U-bolt in the center of each bearing. These not only don’t hold the bearing down particularly well, but are far to easy to over (or under) torque. If you put them on too tight the bearing can deform, but too loose and they can rattle around. The best advice the manual can give is to hand-tighten the nuts and then turn them an additional 90 degrees with the supplied pliers. Frankly it feels rather sloppy, and it’s something I would hope to see addressed in the future. As it stands, it would arguably be better to just hold them on with zip ties.

Reliance on Printed Parts

The Prusa i3 MK3 makes use of an incredible number of printed parts. If it isn’t electronic, a fastener, or part of the frame itself, it’s probably printed. The reasoning for this is simple: not only does it allow Prusa to make incremental changes to the design without having to retool their entire production, but it allows the end-user to upgrade their own printer to keep up with upstream changes if they wish. In theory it’s a great idea, and works fine for probably 85% of the parts in the printer, but I feel it’s somewhat overused.

Case in point, the printer’s Y axis. Both the bracket for holding the stepper motor and the opposing pulley are simple blocks; with no provision for adjustment, or really any unique design elements at all. Both parts could be made faster and stronger by simply using bent aluminum brackets. With a drill press and a vise, a worker could produce a dozen of these parts in the time it takes to print one. For parts that seem unlikely to go through any significant design revisions, it seems strange to keep them as printed.

It isn’t just a matter of production bottlenecks, in some cases the printed parts may be a liability. Within the first fifteen hours of printing on my MK3, one of the printed parts came apart along the layer lines. To be fair this was something of an anomaly, and Prusa support was fantastic about sending me a replacement part for free. But for a printer that costs $1,000 USD (in its assembled form), it’s a little concerning that success or failure might ultimately depend on issues such as layer adhesion in its printed components.

A Leap Forward First print, default settings. Hatchbox Silver PLA

After putting a few hundred hours of prints through the Prusa i3 MK3, I almost feel foolish when I think of the amount of time I’ve spent fiddling with lesser printers to get results that still weren’t as good as what the MK3 consistently puts out. The very first print I did on the MK3 after assembling it, with absolutely no additional calibration or adjustment, was phenomenal. Other printers are only cheaper if your time has no value, or you enjoy the struggle.

From a usability standpoint it’s still not a perfect 3D printer, though perhaps such a thing isn’t possible. But the dizzying array of sensors and functions packed into the MK3 certainly puts it about as close as you can get. The ability to detect and recover from things like loss of power and filament jams are arguably worth the price of admission alone.

The Prusa i3 MK2 was already an excellent printer, but the new features added in the MK3 combined with the available multiple material upgrade really puts this machine on the cutting edge of desktop 3D printing. In the end, if you’re looking for a printing workhorse that you know can get the job done, this is the machine for you. Unfortunately, if you’re more interested in the tinkering and fiddling which has been a hallmark of 3D printing up to this point…those days might be numbered.

Vibrosight Hears When You are Sleeping. It Knows When You’re Awake.

จันทร์, 10/22/2018 - 22:30

No matter how excited you are to dive headfirst into the “Internet of Things”, you’ve got to admit that the effort and expense of going full-on Jetsons is a bit off-putting. To smarten up your home you’ve generally got to buy all new products (and hope they’re all compatible) or stick janky after-market sensors on the gear you’ve already got (and still hope they’re all compatible). But what if there was a cheap and easy way to keep tabs on all your existing stuff? The answer may lie in Cold War era surveillance technology.

As if the IoT wasn’t already Orwellian enough, Vibrosight is a project that leverages a classic KGB spy trick to keep tabs on what’s going on inside your home. Developed by [Yang Zhang], [Gierad Laput] and [Chris Harrison], the project uses retro-reflective stickers and a scanning laser to detect vibrations over a wide area. With this optical “stethoscope”, the system can glean all kinds of information; from how long you’ve been cooking something in the microwave to whether or not you washed your hands.

The project takes its inspiration from the optical eavesdropping system developed by Léon Theremin in the late 1940’s. By bouncing a beam of light off of a window, Theremin’s gadget was able to detect what people inside the room were saying from a distance. The same idea is applied here, except now it uses an automated laser scanner and machine learning to turn detected vibrations into useful information that can be plugged into a home automation system.

For Vibrosight to “listen” to objects, the user needs to place retro-reflective tags on whatever they want to include in the system. The laser will periodically scan around the room looking for these tags. Once the laser finds a new tag, will add it to a running list of targets to keeps an eye on. From there Vibrosight is able to take careful vibration measurements which can provide all sorts of information. In the video after the break, Vibrosight is shown differentiating between walking, jogging, and running on a treadmill and determining what kind of hand tools are being used on a workbench. The team even envisions a future where Vibrosight-ready devices would “hum” their IP address or other identifying information to make device setup easier.

If all this talk of remote espionage at a distance has caught your interest, we’ve covered Theremin’s unique surveillance creations in the past, and even a way to jam them if you’re trying to stay under the radar.

[Thanks to Chris for the tip.]

That Time Atari Cracked the Nintendo Entertainment System

จันทร์, 10/22/2018 - 21:01

It was darkest hour for the video game industry following the holiday shopping season of 1982. The torrent of third party developed titles had flooded the home video game console market to the point of saturation. It incited a price war amongst retailers where new releases were dropped to 85% off MSRP after less than a month on the shelves. Mountains of warehouse inventory went unsold leaving a company like Atari choosing to dump the merchandise into the Chihuahuan desert rather than face the looming tax bill. As a result, the whole home video game industry receded seemingly overnight.

One company single-handedly revived video games to mainstream prominence. That company was Nintendo. They’re ostensibly seen as the “savior” of the video games industry, despite the fact that microcomputer games were still thriving (history tends to be written by the victors). Nevertheless their Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) was an innovative console featuring games with scrolling screens, arcade-like sprites. But the tactic they used to avoid repeating the 1983 collapse was to tightly control their market using the Nintendo Seal of Quality.

From the third party developer perspective, Nintendo’s Seal of Quality represented more than just another logo to throw on the box art. It represented what you could and couldn’t do with your business. Those third party licensing agreements dictated the types of games that could be made, the way the games were manufactured, the schedule on which the games shipped to retail, and even the number of games your company could make. From the customer side of things that seal stood for confidence in the product, and Nintendo would go to great lengths to ensure it did just that.

This is the story of how an Atari subsidiary company cracked the hardware security of the original Nintendo and started putting it into their unofficial cartridges.

“There were some urban legends in the very early days of the Famicom. Nintendo allegedly used some strong arm tactics at the retail level and they forcibly discouraged reverse engineering of the platform.”

Mark Morris, Former Tengen Programmer

Here Comes The Rabbit Chip NES 10NES diagram from Nintendo Service Manual

The other half of the seal was Nintendo’s security lockout system known as the 10NES program. Essentially the program consisted of a “master” IC inside every NES control deck and the identical “slave” IC inside every game cartridge. Upon inserting an official game cartridge and powering on the console, the LOCK on the master IC sends a reset and initialization signal to the KEY on the slave IC. If the correct response is returned the game cartridge boots the game, but if not the CPU/PPU RESET lines are pulled low with a 1Hz square wave accompanied with a solid color blinking screen on the display. Due to Nintendo’s stringent licensing terms if a company wanted to publish on the NES the 10NES program was the only way in… until Tengen came along.

Tengen, a subsidiary of Atari Games, was initially created to port coin-op arcade games onto home platforms like the NES. Tengen hardware engineers sought to reverse engineer the NES CIC through a chemical peel, but when those efforts failed to generate a complete bypass solution the company decided to become a Nintendo licensee. Upon becoming official, Atari Games lawyers sought out a loophole in order to obtain the code for the 10NES program via the US Copyright Office. By stating that Atari was a defendant in a 10NES program infringement case and therefore was privy to that information, however, no such lawsuit existed at the time of the request.

A shady move to be sure, but combining elements of the newly acquired code with the Tengen engineers’ silicon design the NES’ lockout chip was cracked. They called it the Rabbit chip. This chip meant Tengen were the masters of their own destiny, and allow them to release games like RBI Baseball that featured actual MLB players. However, the people creating the games were not aware the Rabbit chip existed.


“I was completely naive to what was going on…I had no idea, I thought we were going through standard Nintendo.”

Steve Woita, Tengen Programmer

One Small Step For Tengen, One Giant Leap For 3rd Partys

Unsurprisingly Nintendo would retaliate against Tengen releasing unofficial cartridges. In 1990, Nintendo of America sued Tengen for copyright infringement of the 10NES program. Tengen’s defense hinged on the idea that the Rabbit chip needed to function indistinguishably from the 10NES chip in order to prevent Nintendo from barring Tengen from releasing games on any future revision of the NES hardware. Tengen even called into question the validity of the lockout system patent for its obviousness, but it was all to no avail.

No doubt emboldened by Tengen standing up to Nintendo, other third party developers like Camerica, Active Enterprises, and Color Dreams created their own 10NES bypass circuits. These methods typically involved creating a charge pump in an attempt to “stun” the CIC lockout chip. Users of those game cartridges were unknowingly causing damage to their consoles’ less voltage tolerant parts, but the allure of having dozens of games packed into one cartridge like Action 52 would be a novelty too sweet to pass up.

At the time, the Nintendo Entertainment System was in 33% of all American households. With that kind of market penetration, other game systems hardly mattered. So a couple of years after the copyright infringement case, Atari Games would challenge Nintendo’s virtual monopoly on the videogame industry in court. The antitrust case brought against Nintendo would not reach a decision as both parties agreed to an undisclosed settlement, however, it stands to reason that if the case had gone in favor of Atari Games the video game world would look very different than it does today.

Photo of Wisdom Tree 10NES bypass circuitry.

Tengen challenging Nintendo at the height of their influence ultimately changed the way third party developers coexist with platform holders. Each side would treat each other more like partners, because the success of a video game platform is forever entwined with the software written for it. The introduction of the Rabbit chip set a precedent that no game console security was beyond scrutiny. Who knows if history had gone a little differently we might have received a few more ports like the unreleased Tengen version of Marble Madness in the video below:

Home Built Flight Sim Combines Virtual and Actual Reality

จันทร์, 10/22/2018 - 18:00

Virtual Reality (VR) and actual reality often don’t mix: watch someone play a VR game without seeing what they see and you see a lot of pointless-looking flailing around. [Nerdaxic] may have found a balance that works in this flight sim setup that mixes VR and AR, though. He did this by combining the virtual cockpit controls of his fight simulator with real buttons, knobs, and dials. He uses an HTC Vive headset and a beefy PC to create the virtual side, which is mirrored with a real-world version. So, the virtual yoke is matched with a real one. The same is true of all of the controls, thanks to a home-made control panel that features all of the physical controls of a Cessna 172 Skyhawk.

[Nerdaxic] has released the plans for the project, including his 3D printable knobs for throttle and fuel/air mixture and the design for the wooden panel and assembly that holds all of the controls in the same place as they are in the real thing. He even put a fan in the system to produce a gentle breeze to enhance the feel of sticking your head out of the window — just don’t try that on a real aircraft.

Teardown: Sony’s New Aibo goes Under the Knife

จันทร์, 10/22/2018 - 15:00

In a complete surprise, Sony has moved to release the latest version of their robotic dog series, Aibo, in North America. The device is already out in Japan, where there are a number of owner’s clubs that would rival any dedicated kennel club. Thanks to the [Robot Start] team, we now have a glimpse of what goes into making the robotic equivalent of man’s best friend in their teardown of an Aibo ERS-1000.

According to Yoshihiro of Robot Start, Aibo looks to be using a proprietary battery reminiscent of the Handycam camcorders. Those three gold contacts are used for charging on the rug shaped power base that Aibo will periodically return to in order to take a”nap”. There are a couple of square OLED screens behind those puppy dog eyes. They are full-color OLEDs somewhere in the one-inch ballpark. Between the screens is a capacitive touch sensor that wraps around to the top of the head that are also pressure sensitive. 

According to Sony’s press release, the fish-eye camera housed in Aibo’s snout is used to identify faces as well as navigating spaces.

Laying out all the major parts out together certainly drives home the complexity of the latest Aibo. It’ll be interesting to see the progression of this device as all of them come equipped with 4G LTE and 802.11 b/g/n WiFi that connect to Sony’s servers for deep learning.

New behaviors are supposed to download automatically as long as the device is under the subscription plan. While Sony has no current plans to integrate with any voice-activated virtual assistant, we can still look forward to the possibility of some expanded functionality from the Hackaday community.


For the rest of the teardown photos make sure to head over to [Yoshihiro]’s write up on Robot Start. Also just in case anybody cared to see what happens when the first generation Aibo ERS-111 from 1999 meets the 2018 Aibo ERS-1000, you’ll find the answer in the video below:

Blazing Fast Raspberry Pi Display Driver Will Melt Your Face then Teach You How

จันทร์, 10/22/2018 - 12:00

Reader [poipoi] recently wrote into our tip line to tell us about an “amazingly fast” Raspberry Pi display driver with a README file that “is an actual joy to read”. Of course, we had to see for ourselves. The fbcp-ili9341 repo, by [juj], seems to live up to the hype! The software itself appears impressive, and the README is detailed, well-structured, educational, and dare we say entertaining?

The driver’s main goal is to produce high frame rates — up to around 60 frames per second — over an SPI bus, and it runs on various Raspberry Pi devices including the 2, 3 and Zero W. Any video output that goes to the Pi’s HDMI port will be mirrored to a TFT display over the SPI bus. It works with many of the popular displays currently out there, including those that use the ILI9341, ILI9340, and HX8357D chipsets.

The techniques that let [juj] coax such frame rates out of a not-terribly-fast serial bus are explained in detail in the README’s How it Works section, but much of it boils down to the fact that it’s only sending changed pixels for each frame, instead of the full screen. This cuts out the transmission of about 50% of the pixels in each update when you’re playing a game like Quake, claims the author. There are other interesting performance tweaks as well, so be sure to check out the repo for all the details.

There’s a video comparing the performance of fbcp-ili9341 to mainline SPI drivers after the break.

We’ve covered similarly performance-focused SPI display drivers for the esp8266, esp32, and teensy, if you’re looking to use a more lightweight computing platform.

[Thanks again for the tip poipoi]

Stock Looking PSP Hides a Raspberry Pi Zero

จันทร์, 10/22/2018 - 09:00

We don’t see that many PSP hacks around these parts, perhaps because the system never attained the same sort of generational following that Nintendo’s Game Boy line obtained during its heyday. Which is a shame, as it’s really a rather nice system with plenty of hacking potential. Its big size makes it a bit easier to graft new hardware into, the controls are great, and there’s no shortage of them on the second-hand market.

Hopefully, projects like this incredible “PiSP” from [Drygol] will inspire more hackers to take a second look at Sony’s valiant attempt at dethroning Nintendo as the portable king. With his usual attention to detail, he managed to replace the PSP’s original internals with a Pi Zero running RetroPie, while keeping the outside of the system looking almost perfectly stock. It wasn’t exactly a walk in the park, but we’d say the end definitely justifies the means.

The first half of the project was relatively painless. [Drygol] stripped out all the original internals and installed a new LCD which fit so well it looks like the thing was made for the PSP. He then added a USB Li-ion charger board (complete with “light pipe” made out of 3D printer filament), and an audio board to get sound out of the usually mute Pi Zero. He had some problems getting everything to fit inside of the case. The solution was using flat lithium batteries from an old Nokia cell phone to slim things down just enough to close up the PSP’s case with some magnets.

What ended up being the hardest part of the build was getting the original controls working. [Dyrgol] wanted to use the original ZIF connector on the PSP’s motherboard so he wouldn’t have to modify the stock ribbon cable. But it was one of those things that was easier said than done. Cutting out the section of PCB with the connector on it was no problem, but it took a steady hand and a USB microscope to solder all the wires to its traces. But the end result is definitely a nice touch and makes for a cleaner installation.

We’ve covered the exciting world of PSP homebrew, and even DIY batteries built to address the lack of original hardware, but it’s been fairly quiet for the last few years. Here’s hoping this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Sony’s slick handheld on these pages.

Hackaday Links: October 21, 2018

จันทร์, 10/22/2018 - 06:00

A few weeks ago, we got word [Fran] was being kicked out of her workshop. You might remember [Fran] from her exploits in reverse engineering the launch computer for the Saturn V, her work on replicating the DSKY from an AGC, her visit to the Air & Space Museum annex (so jealous), and her other musical adventures. Why is she getting kicked out? Philly’s getting gentrified, ya jabroinis. Now, there’s a GoFundMe for a new Fran Lab. Go on and ring that bell.

Everyone needs a Sharpie sitting around, so how about one that weighs a pound or so? [MakingStuff] created a new body for a big ‘ol Sharpie marker, complete with knurling. Oh, man, the knurling.

A Powerball ticket costs $2. Last Friday, the expected return on a single Powerball ticket was more than $2. This doesn’t happen often, but last Friday the most logical course of action for everyone was to buy all the Powerball tickets they could.

Boston Dynamics built another dog robot and made it dance to Uptown Funk because we haven’t heard that song enough. No one has listened to Uptown Funk enough times in their life. It’s a great song that never gets old or overplayed.

[Wintergatan] is building a drum machine. You might remember this artisan of plywood from various marble machine builds that also play music. This build goes deep into the techniques of building gigantic mechanical contraptions out of plywood and steel.

Speaking of plywood, Rockler had a contest a while back to build something out of a single sheet of plywood. [OSO DIY] came up with the most interesting table I’ve ever seen. A lot of the entries into this plywood contest turned the plywood on its end, resulting in something that looks like it’s made out of skateboard decks. [OSO DIY]’s coffee table is no exception; it’s basically just a panel of edge-grain plywood made into a table. Where this gets really good is the actual design of the table. It’s clearly a mid-century modern piece, with threaded inserts holding the legs on. However, instead of something that was pressed out of a factory, this table just exudes an immense amount of manual labor. It’s a counterpoint between craftsmanship and minimalist design rendered in plywood and by far one of the most interesting pieces of furniture made in the last few years. Here are some more entries that also capitalize on edge-grain plywood

The Polyphonic Analog/Digital Synth Project

จันทร์, 10/22/2018 - 03:00

[Matt Bradshaw]’s entry in the Hackaday Prize is Polymod, a modular digital synthesizer which combines the modularity of an analog synth with the power of a digital synth. Each module (LFO, Envelope Generator, Amplifier, etc.) are connected with audio cables to others and the result is processed digitally to create music.

The synth is built with a toy keyboard with each key having a tactile switch underneath it, contained inside a wooden case upcycled from a bookshelf found on the street. Each module is a series of potentiometers and I/O jacks with a wooden faceplate. The modules are connected to sockets on the main board and are held in place with thumbscrews so that the modules can be easily switched out. Each module can be connected to others using audio cables, the same way modular analog synths are connected.

The main board contains a Teensy 3.6 and a Teensy Audio Adapter creates the audio for the synth. Software that [Matt] wrote runs on the Teensy and allows the digital synthesizer to run in either monophonic or polyphonic modes. In polyphonic mode, the software creates digital copies of each module to allow the playing of chords. The Teensy scans up to eight module sockets and for each module that it finds, it reads the potentiometer value as well as the status of the I/O jacks. The keyboard buttons are converted to a control voltage which can be sent to any of the modules to create a melody.

[Matt] has created a great synth that combines benefits of both analog and digital synths together and the result is an inexpensive modular synth that can create some really cool sounds. Check out the videos after the break. In the meantime, take a look at this mess of wires and this article on a slew of open-source synthesizers.

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