Category Archives: Good Ideas

NES Chip Maestro MIDI Synthesizer Cart

Currently in development an NES cartridge that you can link to any MIDI device. Any order over 50 dollars is a pre-order of the cartridge. For 125 dollars get a “developer” cartridge with access to the internal chips.

It has already reached it’s funded point so you can feel pretty confident this will happen. Lot’s of Love!

Editor’s note: This project has reached the funding goal so its bound to happen, really nice concept. From the video it appears that the MIDI lag times are minimal. Looking forward to the finished product.

Adding Touch Sensitivity To Projects

by spunkytoofers

Fortune Cookies: Series of chaotic speech synths based on the Vtech Talking Whiz Kid circuit. Each one in the series is unique and an exploration into different interfaces. The Whiz Kid when circuit bent is what I consider bends under the category of glitch stream. A device is bent into streaming a series of endless/random flow of glitches and further bends will determine the course of it’s flow or interruption of flow.

In this particular version I’m using touch sensitivity to interact with the glitch streams. It’s a pretty simple concept you can apply to any touch based project so long as your components are metal to the touch and electrically isolated from the enclosure you’re using. This works for switches but this can also work very well for momentary buttons. If you find the right connections you can add an expressive touch sensitivity to your trigger and switches.

Strip a good amount of stranded wire and wrap the wire around the component’s base on the underside of the non conductive enclosure, then tighten the component down. If components have hardware such as washers it’s pretty easy just to thread the wire in between the washer and component (given it is thin yet sturdy enough) and then just tighten the component down to the enclosure making sure the wire is making contact with the metal casing of your component. Use a multimeter or other means to check the continuity of your your wire to the touchable part of your component.

The Curmudgeon’s Corner #3 12.20.2010

By Hank The Curmudgeon

Greetings And Salutations! First off Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, Joyous Kwanzaa, Wacky Festivus and/or anything else you can celebrate. Oh, if I don’t get #4 out by the end of year Happy New Year! May you have a safe and wonderful holiday season. Here’s hoping you get that soldering station or capacitor assortment you’ve been dreaming about. Now onto this episodes insanity…

Selected Videos.
“Miniature” Microtonal Udderbot & Dulcimer Duet

Frank Giorgini’s Udu Utar Played by Brian Melick. Thanks to Gene Barth for finding this video!

#11 Math.

Your generic ubiquitous Switchcraft #11 1/4″ Open Frame Mono Jack…shopped around on 11/26/10.

But Hank, you whine, why didn’t you note the prices on eBay? Because the jacks may, or may not, be available, shipping can be outrageous, I don’t want to wait 2+ weeks for Taiwanese post, I’ve seen the plating flaking off due to corrosion, etc. That’s why I didn’t list eBay…but I’m not ruling eBay totally out.
If ANYONE knows of better prices for Switchcraft #11’s PLEASE contact me! *We have some Plastic Stereo jacks in

DIY Heavy Metal. Go explore the individual instruments at:

Ballet Mecanique At The National Gallery Of Art

Interesting background material:

Ooo Shiny…Hi-Tech Shiny. @ “Only” $12,843.77 each we’ll take a dozen!

Urban Planning Meets A Music Sequencer?
Thanks to Chicago Buck for finding this. There is some very interesting potential for teaching musical theory and composition to someone who has no music background or training.

Can One Really Bend “Star Wars”?
Or at least use it as a sample source? Yes!!! If anyone follows through with this I WANT TO KNOW ABOUT IT!

Virtual Breadboard.
Sadly NOT a dynamic circuit simulator but still a neat idea. Plus it’s great if you need a graphic illustration in your handouts for a class!

Extra Credit: What circuit do I have loaded in this example?

$1.2M Accordioning Brass Musical Watch. Even if I had $1.2 M to waste I’m not so sure a watch, this or any watch, would be on the shopping list…

Performance: Catherine Brisset On The Cristal Baschet And Gilles Dalbis On Percussion. What? You don’t own a Cristal Baschet!

Nicely Done 555/556 Time Page. Good clear explanations of our little friend Mr. 555 and what he is capable of.

Jumbo Otamatone: DIY Seed? First watch the video:

Now, ignoring the silly giant musical note form factor, this would be an easy DIY project coupling either a DIY ribbon controller or a COTS ribbon potentiometer such as with almost any VCO or APC circuit. Now the question becomes what goofy package can you house this in to make a bunch of money.

After You’re Done With That Holiday Brew…

Maker Faire Detroit 2010 Wrap-Up

by Austin.

Detroit Maker Faire 2010 was quite a blast.  CMKT4 headed up to Dearborn, Michigan with Michael Una and Tomer Gal for a busy weekend of demonstrating and performing.  CMKT4 played the main stage both days and Michael Una played the second day. Our Bottle-Cap Contact Microphones won an Editor’s Choice Ribbon and got written up on Boing-Boing by Make Editor Mark Frauenfelder.  Mike Una also won an Editor’s Choice Ribbon for his live performance.  Here he is setting up on the main-stage:

I’m so glad we went, it was a fantastic experience.  We got to meet so many interesting people who are doing interesting things.  I was able to sneak away for an hour on the second day and shoot some photos, here is some of what I saw:

Here are Nina and Jeff from Omnicorp, Detroit, a relatively young hacker-space.  Nina and Jeff were demonstrating circuit-bending at their booth to Maker Faire attendees.  CMKT4 will be headed up to Omnicorp to present a workshop on building contact microphones Saturday, August 28th.  Details here.

Another group of makers were controlling these huge robots, which were playing some very loud noise music.

This roving skull robot “greeted” onlookers with gnashing jaw and Mars-Attacks-like gibberish.  Pretty frightening:

Here someone made a jug organ, I thought this was really neat:

CdS cells were inventively used to read data from player-piano scrolls and control an array of solenoids that play the keys of a modern keyboard at this exhibit:

An interesting by-product is the MIDI code being generated from the scroll by the keyboard being physically played.  Next to the main stage was this bicycle-driven guitar wind-mill called the The Axe Grinder.

There were of course plenty of vehicles at the Maker Faire, but my favorite had to be the Sashimi Tabernacle Choir.  I’m glad that somebody figured out something to do with Big Mouth Billy Bass and all his pals other than hang it over the back of the toilet.   All the fish and lobsters are made to dance and lip-sync to popular favorites, such as Bohemian Rhapsody.  I actually got to sit in the driver’s seat for a little while and operate the Lobster Conductor;  the control was two two-way switches, one to rotate the lobster, one to extend and retract the arm, and a push-button to bounce the lobster and “conduct” the marine choir.

Some of the crew from Life-Size Mouse-Trap taking a break from a long, hot day of repeatedly crushing a Chevy Mini Van under a giant safe.   More Robots!

Various doo-dads made with a Cupcake CNC machine:

Tomer sports some CNC-made goggles.  I felt like I was wearing some crazy goggles, because Maker Faire was one awesome, surreal experience after the other.  See you there next year?

Aesthetics of the 25 Year Old Box of Sounds

The Box of Sounds was built over 25 years ago by a then 12-year-old Russ. Function wise this device is basically perfect as a stand alone experimental noise maker and an Audio generator. You have Volume, Built-In speaker, oscillator pitch,  LFO with Rate control, and an indicator, old style frequency range selectors, switch patching, and an On-Off switch. All for what appears to be $15 in parts plus a sound generator IC. Circuit wiring is nothing more than a direct implementation of the SN94281 Datasheet schematic, but the user interface and its functional simplicity is something note because it can applied to other basic oscillator circuits.

Here is a video demo.

Seen on Make:Blog