Interactive Bumblebee Costume

Ian Cole and a team of makers at MakerFX transformed a wheelchair into an amazing interactive Bumblebee costume.


Magic Wheelchair, a nonprofit organization that builds epic costumes for kids in wheelchairs, matched ATMakers to a kiddo for a wheelchair build.  ATMakers joined forces with MakerFX to build a wheelchair costume in 3 short weeks – in time for the Assistive Tech Industry Association conference.

Alex, the young man receiving the wheelchair uses assistive technology devices to communicate, so as part of the build the team decided their Bumblebee needed to be interactive using a keyboard.  The interactions they selected could be usable by Alex and worked into his physical therapy in the future.

The dashboard has a capacitive touch horn, two assistive technology buttons, a 320×240 LCD video screen, and 3 addressable LED rings.  The dashboard sends commands to the costume using USB MIDI notes.  This allows the costume to be controlled by either the dashboard or a keyboard.  All the controls and LEDs are powered by a Teensy 3.6 with a Teensy Audio Shield.  They used the FASTLED Library and the Non-blocking WS2812 LED Library to control the LEDs.  The USB Host capabilities of the Teensy 3.6 were used for the MIDI connection.

Code for the project is available in this MakerFX GitHub repository.

SBUS Tutorial by Bolder Flight

Brian Taylor of Bolder Flight has continued his great series of tutorials with the latest covering SBUS, a relatively new protocol for servos.

SBUS has the advantage of allowing up to 16 servos to be be bussed of a single cable.  The first tutorial in the series is an introduction to SBUS and finishes with commanding a few servos to move.  The second tutorial in the series focuses on reading SBUS packets.  The third tutorial in the SBUS series brings together the PWM and  SBUS tutorials to create an SBUS to PWM converter.

The tutorials use Bolder Flight’s SBUS Backpack.  This handy board has pinned out 8 SBUS outputs for easy integration with standard servo connectors, and it come ready to plug in your Teensy 3.2.

If you want to learn more about controlling servos using PWM and SBUS, it’s well worth checking out these tutorials.

Password Keeper

David Hend made a very convenient password keeper.

This compact, low-cost, device features AES-256 bit encryption and stores data on an removable SD card for back up and safekeeping.  Not only does it store passwords, but it has the ability to generate 16 character mixed case passwords as well.

This Instructibles page gives information on how to build your own.

Code for the project can be found on GitHub

Touch Piano DIY Circuit Board

Michael Sobolak made a cool little DIY touch piano.

Michael made this cool little MIDI Controller by first etching his own PCB that he designed in Illustrator using printer toner transfer and copper etching solution.  There’s a bit of tricky soldering to the TouchSense inputs on the bottom of the Teensy, but the rest of the soldering is pretty simple.

Abelton Live was used for the sound libraries for this project, but it should also work with Garage Band or other digital audio workstation (DAW).

Code for the project can be found on this Instructibles page.




Thea Flowers built a really cool Sega-Genesis inspired synthesizer, the Genesynth.

Thea had been toying around with building a synthesizer for a while but was lacking inspiration, then she came up with the idea to build a synth using the same chip as the Sega Genesis.  The Genesis was one of the last consoles to feature a synthesizer instead of samples and CD playback.  This created the distinctive sound of the soundtracks to their iconic games.

The Genesynth uses the Yamaha YM2612 FM syntheses chip, the same chip used in the Sega Genesis.  A Teensy 3.5 interfaces between the chip and a USB-MIDI connection.  A high-quality audio amplifier was used.  While it’s far better than the original Genesis amplifier, it still retains the same filter roll-off so you can hear the chip’s9-bit DAC’s distortion.

Thea says that the project took weeks of research, months of iteration, and nearly a year of programming.  This was not only her first synthesizer build, but her also her first hardware build.  It also gave her the opportunity to learn to make PCBs, which she did with style.

This Twitter Moment is a collection of her Tweets about the project.  It includes some short audio clips so you can hear the Genesynth in action.

She has some great blog posts about the build process, including the Research, Basic Communication, Proper Audio, and PCBs and Noise Elimination.

You can also read a write of the project over on

Finally, all build information including code and PCBs files are available on GitHub.

Open Air Photo Booth

Not your run-of-the-mill webcam, Mike’s photobooth uses a Canon DSLR camera and softbox lighting for superior quality photos.  The booth does preview, customization, printing, and can automatically upload to the internet, but is easy for anyone to use with a giant arcade button.

As the official photographer for a good friend’s wedding, Mike decided he wanted an “open air booth” with built-in softbox lighting and could use a dSRL camera.  It also needed to be easy to use as the official photog he didn’t want it to consume his time at the wedding.

The photo booth is built on a rolling tool cabinet making it easy to cart around.  It runs the dSLR Remote Pro software on an old HP Pentium 4 2.8 Ghz computer.  A Teensy is used to add arcade style buttons to simulate keyboard shortcuts in the software to allow the user to switch between photo/video modes, start the image/video capture, and enable/disable the camera’s live view.

Code for the project can be found on this blog page.

Billiard Ball Arcade Trackball Mouse

Adam Haile at Manical Labs found a way to make his beloved trackball mouse cool by making a billiard ball arcade trackball mouse.

Not only is Adam a bit obsessed with the trackball mouse, but he’s also a billiards fan.  So when he saw a character using a 9-Ball mouse in the movie Oceans 8, he knew he had to have one.

He used an arcade trackball as a base and added some LED arcade buttons.  A 3-D printing housing was create to custom fit his hand.  A custom PCB made it easy to wire the buttons and trackball to the Teensy and also made it easy to mount the electronics.

The USB HID functionality of a Teensy along with the Encoder library made quick work of the code for the project.

Code for the project as well as the PCB designs and CAD files are available on GitHub.