High Resolution Budget Polarimeter

A team of research scientists including John de Mello, A.J. Harvie, and T.W. Phillips have developed a low-cost, high-accuracy polarimeter that uses a Teensy 3.6.

In the study released in Scientific Reports, the team reveals the inspiration for the project as well as their DIY approach to creating the plans for a low cost but high resolution open-hardware instrument suitable for scientific research.

Polarimeters are typically very expensive but extremely useful devices. They are used to measure the angle of rotation caused by passing polarized light through an optically active substance and can actually be used to distinguish chemicals as many chemicals have a unique rotational-angular signature. While the first polarimeters developed in the 60s needed to be controlled manually, modern polarimeters are motorized with integrated photo detectors and can be used to take automatic measurements. A single device, however, can cost upwards of $14,000.

In a tweet, nanomaterials specialist John de Mello stated the team wanted to create a device which could produce the same “high-end specs at a bargain-basement price.” For inspiration, the team loosely based their model on a design by the All-Russia Scientific Research Institute of Optophysical Measurements.


Nintendo Power Glove Modification

Glytch, an electronics hobbyist, has produced a Nintendo Power Glove modification that grants the device an impressive amount of control.

The Nintendo Power Glove is perhaps one of the most iconic and nostalgic pieces of wearable gaming technology. Originally released in 1989, the glove wasn’t as successful in its functionality as it was in its marketing. Featured in the film The Wizard, the glove was marketed as a virtual reality controller capable of granting players “free-flowing instant response” but many users found the controls difficult to use as the glove only provided tracking on one axis (roll) using ultrasonic sensors and used conductive ink to track the fingers leading to low resolution hand tracking.

Glytch’s mod gives the glove the power to control robots weighing up to 200 lbs. More specifically, a t-shirt cannon! In a post made to Twitter, Glytch shows off the project in progress controlling a small rover.

The project arrives just in time for the Power Glove’s 30th anniversary. In a video Glytch uploaded to his Youtube Channel he talks about how amusing it is to hack a piece of technology that’s seven years older than he is. The project uses a Teensy LC, two NRF modules for transmitting data between the glove and the robot, an IMU in place of the original ultrasonic sensors for hand tracking, flex sensors for finger tracking, and custom PCBs developed by Nolan Moore who has also shared his own mod which the project is based on at Hackster.io.

Glytch has previously worked on lots of awesome projects, including hacking your laptop’s webcam and modifying your 3D printer to run on USB-C.

The Dwelling – Electronic Art at Burning Man

The Dwelling is an electronic art installation designed for Burning Man 2019. The Dwelling is a stranded alien spaceship, pulsing and glowing with light at night.

For hardware hackers with an artistic side, the Burning Man playa is known as a great place to find inspiration and experiment with electronic art. The Dwelling was built by a group of hackers and artists including Philip Levis, Jasmine Brackett and Yariv Keinan.

If you want to see more pictures of the finished installation or of the artwork at various stages during its construction, the creators of the Dwelling project have published extensive build logs over on their blog. They have also wrote a super informative post about the external electronics with a detailed breakdown of the lighting set up, power requirements and their plans to drive it all with the Teensy 3.6.

MIDI DIN to USB Converter

What living electronic musician hasn’t encountered the need for a MIDI to USB converter at some point in their career? When forum user XFer experienced this need, they did what any clever hacker would do: DIY their own converter.

XFer used a Teensy 3.6 and the MIDI Library guide on the PJRC website to set up the hardware and software. They also added a portable battery bank to provide power for both adapter and keyboard that lasts for up to three hours as well as connecting a pair of LEDs to indicate the status of the MIDI connection. XFer has included the source code for the project in their forum post along with some awesome photos of the adapter in its 3D printed case with inputs for all the cables.

LetsGO Remote Show Controller

Swiss engineer Mike Utz has created an effective cue controller called the LetsGO which allows users to trigger cues for QLAB, Ableton Live, and GO-Button remotely.

Mike produced two versions of the software: one which uses a simple button or remote control interface and a second version which includes integrated audio and MIDI interfaces using an LCD display. Both models are driven by a Teensy 3.2. You can find the source code for the entire project on Github if you’d like to try your hand at creating your own LetsGO. The repository also includes in-depth troubleshooting info., schematics, parts list, and everything else you might need to build your own version of the project. As Mike points out, show control software can be very expensive, but the LetsGO can be built for under $200 which is a great option for theaters, artists, and other working professionals in the entertainments industry who are operating on a tight budget. You can see some of Mike’s other sound control inventions on his website.

Guitar Tuner Using Teensy Audio Library

If you’ve ever wondered how a guitar tuner works, a recent post by forum user jpk unravels the mystery through a project in which they built their own DIY instrument tuner using a Teensy 3.6 and the Teensy audio library.

In the project, jpk uses fft frequency estimation and the Yin algorithm from the Teensy audio library to determine the accuracy of the incoming frequency in hertz. The device also includes a metronome so musicians can keep time, an LED indicator that responds to the note’s accuracy, and a display.The Teensy 3.6 version includes an LED indicator and display. A newer Teensy 4.0 version includes a speaker, rotary encoder, button, and lithium-ion battery charger. Jpk even made custom wood enclosures with transparent lids (so you can see the handiwork) to house both models. If you’d like to try it out yourself, jpk generously shared the project files to our forum.