Saturday, April 28, 2012

Cigar Box Ukulele

I downloaded the pictures from my camera this morning and realized that I neglected to post the Cigar Box Ukulele that I made a week or two ago.

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As part of my continuing quest to create musical instruments, I decided to create a Ukulele. The majority of the parts I used for this project were salvaged from the Cigar Box Guitar I made from Make Magazine. While this isn't a formal how-to, the general order of creation was I first created a channel down the center of the center of the cigar box. I then cut the neck to an appropriate length and drilled the necessary holes for mounting the hardware to hold the strings. For frets, I cut off the ends off of nails and super-glued them onto the neck. I also drilled two 1/2 inch holes near the center of the box to allow the strings to resonate. 

Overall, the ukulele makes sounds, but is a far stretch from an actual instrument. I attribute this to two things: 1. my lack of ability to play the ukulele, and 2. that I used mason's line for the strings. The strings could not hold their tuning well (although this may also be because they are not held down tight), so much so, that I could actually hear them precess out of tune with each additional strum. 

In any case, this was a fun project that (somewhat) actually worked. (project photos below:)

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Friday, April 20, 2012

Webcam Theremin

I love listening to and making music, so I thought it was time for me to attempt to make an instrument. I've been particularly attracted to the Theremin, so I decided to try to emulate it with a webcam. My idea was to have the camera track fiducials and then use their position to output a tone and (hopefully) a chord. Currently, the vertical position of the fiducial controls the frequency of the note.

To create this instrument, I used Processing/Java and included the Minim and TUIO libraries. Both libraries are well documented and very powerful; I recommend tinkering around with them. Additionally, I used ReacTIVision to act as a tracker for the fiducials.

The keen observer may note that I'm not using the Processing IDE, but instead, Eclipse. The reason why is that I like Eclipse's auto-complete feature where it displays the methods and variables associated with an object, if you put a "dot" after a reference to the object. I find this extremely useful when I'm working with new libraries.

Below is a quick demo of the current version of the project. My next goal is to make hitting notes more intuitive and fluid. At the moment, it's kind of like trying to play a song on a piano while blindfolded without knowing where middle C is. Perhaps I will superimpose a scale onscreen so the user can estimate where the notes are chromatically.

EDIT: I forgot to mention that in the video, I show two things: the first half demonstrates the "snapping" feature where the program plays the closes major note, the second half demonstrates a sliding scale.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Floss Holder

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As a birthday present for my Mom, I decided to print a dental floss holder. I wanted to make something similar to this, but they usually are disposable (i.e. you can't replace the floss) and/or expensive. Instead, I determined the dimensions of the holder and drew it up in sketchup. Afterwords, I converted it to an STL, had ReplicatorG make GCODE, and printed it out.


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Sunday, April 15, 2012

Nook Case

I love my nook, but the fabric case I had caused the buttons to be pressed while the device was squeezed in my backpack, wasting battery power. My solution was to hollow out a book that was slightly larger than the nook and put the nook inside.

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I loosely followed the steps of this instructable. I used small pieces of velcro to hold the nook in, and I strategically-placed standoffs to prevent the buttons from being pushed while the cover is closed.

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After a couple of weeks of use, I can report that the case is holding up well. It retains the tactile "book" feel while allowing me keep the nook protected. All in all, I'm very happy with the outcome of this project.