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Published on: September 6, 2013 / Comments: 2

A few questions with the TubeCore Duo creators

We had a chance to catch up with Jason from TubeCore, so we decided to ask him a few questions.  TubeCore currently has a Kickstarter running to launch their product the TubeCore Duo.  The TubeCore Duo is a hackable, retro inspired modern boombox that sports all the goodies.  Streaming via WIFI and Bluetooth, to a hybrid vacuum tube amplifier powerhouse inside.  There’s even a Raspberry Pi running XBMC.

[su_dropcap style="1" size="2"]Q[/su_dropcap]So tell us your inspiration for creating the Duo.

[su_dropcap style="2" size="2"]A[/su_dropcap]I grew up in recording studios and on stages. I cut my teeth on HiFi and couldn’t find exactly what I wanted. I wanted to combine solid HiFi principles to small form consumer audio; a sort of HiFi for everyone. I wanted to build something that didn’t exists and love music. So the choice was natural.

[su_dropcap style="1" size="2"]Q[/su_dropcap]You’ve obviously already passed your funding goal, do you have any concerns at this point ?

[su_dropcap style="2" size="2"]A[/su_dropcap]Logistics. When I started this, my biggest concern was getting the 56 I would have need to fund out the door and use the profits to reduce my need for off the shelf solutions and have my hardware custom designed. Because of the huge support of our fans, we have been able to develop some key relationships with our suppliers and have drawn the interest of some national and international distributors. While this relationship building is critical, with an on off system we are burdened with the task of developing 10 times the relationships we would have needed before. More input channels are being created and the time dedicated to maintaining each has drastically increased. All said, I have compensated by sleeping less. You get used to it actually.


Published on: September 6, 2013 / Comments: None

555 Timer Chip Music Player

Steve posted a detailed video showing off his entry for the 2013 Ottawa Mini-Maker Faire.  A 555 Timer Chip Music Player. The beauty of the project is its simplicity.

As paper passes over individual copper plates any number of wires can drop through the holes to make contact. The length of the holes determine how long a note is played and the resistors attached to the copper plates adjust the frequency of the square wave which generates the tones.  This is the perfect project for getting your kids excited about electronics. Check out the schematic and additional build photos after the break.


Published on: September 2, 2013 / Comments: None

A pretty lightweight pocket audio clip player

Why over-complicate things ?  Sometimes all you need is something simple.  Paul over at DorkBotPDX decided his Monty Python theme costume needed a little extra flair, so he built a tiny sound clip player using some transistors, a teensy 3.0, a battery, and a speaker.

The circuit is pretty simple, a 9V battery gets regulated down to 5v to run the teensy.  The teensy does some quick pwm changing on a single pin while parsing a specially crafted audio file.  The pwm pin fires into a single transistor that then fires either a PNP or a NPN transistor at 9V which turns a small pwm signal into a big pwm signal.  The signal runs through a small inductor and decoupling cap to an 8 ohm speaker.

He’s got a schematic, a teensy 3.0 sketch, and instructions on how he converted the audio clip into the right format over on his blog.  Check it out.

Published on: August 26, 2013 / Comments: None

Data into smart phones and tablets via audio

You have probably seen those little dongles that let people swipe their credit card on their smart phone or tablet.  These little dongles transmit data to the device via the microphone jack.  The audio recorded is then examined and the data is either a one or a zero.

In the example described by the article, they are using a PIC and the data is encoded via manchester encoding.  A resistor and a pot are used to tweak the output level.  This is a great way to send data to a smart phone or tablet without making any crazy custom dongles but you are limited in capabilities.

Schematic and example source code is included in the post.

Published on: August 20, 2013 / Comments: None

Nintendo audio played in real time by robotic musicians

I just want to start out by saying I love this hack.  With that out of the way…  What we have here is some Raspberry Pi’s and someone’s amazing vision.  First off introducing the band.  The player piano has been converted to run off of MIDI.  The two percussion instruments are solenoids controlled by a Raspberry Pi.

Next we have (I believe) a Raspberry Pi feeding off of the audio coming out of an original NES, and translating the notes into MIDI notes and percussion instructions.  There is a slight delay (due to the translation I suppose) and you can see it but it’s not that bad all the time.  This all comes together having a nice robotic symphony playing your music while you game on.

I would love to re-create this hack, the percussion stuff seems pretty straight forward, but where am I going to find a player piano at a decent price ?

Published on: August 17, 2013 / Comments: None

Transferring data via audio FSK — modem style!


I stumbled on this awesome project called minimodem.  It’s a software FSK audio modem.  It allows you to encode and decode data as audio — just like dialup modems and fax machines used to.  This lead me to finding an Arduino project where Emmanuel is creating a long range temperature sensor that transmit’s temperature data over walkie-talkie radios and is decoded by minimodem.
On the Arduino side Emmanuel is using the RTTI Library. On the PC side it uses minimodem to de-modulate the encoded data.  Here’s a video of it in action.  What a great set of tools to add to the collection.   And you can make all sorts of cool projects, or hell just experimenting with the minimodem application itself.

Published on: August 3, 2013 / Comments: None

The smallest chiptunes player you will ever see – the noiseplug

So small the entire thing fits _inside_ an RCA jack, Joachim has managed to write some really cool tight looped code.  On an Atmel ATtiny9, which only has 1K of flash and 32 bytes of ram he managed to make some sweet chiptune bliss.

It actually doesn’t sound that bad either!  He’s got the source code to the ATtiny9 right here on github.  He also has the source to his prototype of the same code for windows.  Good stuff.