Blog Posts

ImSoDopeaHedron – Infinity Mirror LED Sculpture

The ImSoDopeaHedron is a beautiful and mesmerizing LED sculpture by maker and designer Tom Schubert.

The project was inspired by Neil Merchant’s Dodecahedron which also uses an infinity mirror approach to create hypnotic LED effects that highlight the sculpture’s geometric structure.

Schubert has shared a few videos so far of palettes and sound-reactive lighting patterns he’s created using FastLED for the sculpture—including tests from Bowie’s “Rocket Man” to vaporwave—which you can watch on his Youtube channel. Schubert has also shared photos of the making of the sculpture for makers who are considering building their own or a similar project.

To build the ImSoDopeaHedron, Schubert wired up high-density Neopixel strips to line each of the sculpture’s joints resulting in five strips of six sections running in parallel. This creates a star burst pattern of light where the five segments meet, the effect of which is absolutely entrancing to watch when replicated within the sculpture’s mirrored interior. The 1,440 LEDs are driven by a Teensy 3.2 while the infinity effect is created by lining the sculpture in .6mm two-way acrylic.

AURA – Sound Reactive Art Installation

German designer and artist Alex Rex has created many installations combining sound and electronics. One of his most recent projects, Aura, envisions what it would take to make a field of wooden rods sway in response to the notes from a piano, clarinet, or other instrument.

To realize the project, he uses a Teensy 3.5 and Teensy Audio Board to control a series of motors which direct the movements of wooden rods according to sound input from a microphone. The effect is a beautiful and whimsical installation where the surrounding rods appear to come to life in response to live music.

Not only is the project itself impressive, but even more impressive is Rex’s decision to use the project’s documentation as a platform for educating others about how to create musical electronic installations. He’s devoted an entire section of his website to tutorials which can help even beginners learn how to build reactive audio environments like Aura with both budget and materials in mind.

Rex’s tutorials are extremely thorough, including custom diagrams, parts lists, and step-by-step instructions with annotated source code. He takes things a step further by showing interesting ways in which sound can manipulate movement through examples of linear, rotational, and algorithmic models including videos of these models applied to outputs such as servos and LEDs.

You can view more of Rex’s projects including a machine which ignites and extinguishes matches and an exploration into alternative materials for producing vinyl records on his portfolio website.

Wobble Sphere

Experimental hardware game developer Robin Baumgarten’s latest creation, the Wobble Sphere, makes creative use of 72 touch-sensitive door stopper springs, each outlined in an LED ring that reacts when the stopper is touched.

Not only does each individual ring react, but the surrounding rings react as well, allowing users to create colorful patterns that can move throughout the sculpture bringing it to life. The Wobble Sphere builds on some of Baumgarten’s previous designs which also incorporate touch reactive door stopper springs. As Baumgarten mentions in a recent tweet, the  project was created during the 2020 Covid19 pandemic and the shape of the wobble spherea globe with spikesmay seem a bit familiar (only this is the kind of corona structure you want to touch!)

Baumgarten mentions in a Teensy forum post that to create the project he used a Teensy 4.0 and 72 neopixel rings. He’s also posted a behind-the-scenes documentation of the making of the project on his website for those who’d like to learn more about the project’s construction or ogle the beautiful artwork by Caitlin Goodale on the custom PCBs inside the sculpture.

Baumgarten has created many playful interactive art installations over the years incorporating everything from LED reactive springs to kitchen knives.

Augie – A Large Hexapod Robot

James Harton has created a hexapod robot that is large enough for him to ride around town like an electric scooter.  The design was influenced by the sick ride of a villain in an anime series he was watching with his kids.

hexapod robot

In an entertaining and relatable rundown of the project shared to Hackster.io, Harton discusses the ups and downs of his design process from poorly performing budget equipment to shelling out for a 3D printer and lasercutter to get the job done. In this way, he describes how the robot grew from a small model using parts 3D printed at the local library and a handful of 9g toy servos to its current form which includes robust, poseable 3D printed legs that use 60 kg servos driven by a Teensy 4.0. Programming for this project is still in progress, but in the meantime he has posted his Fusion360 files for anyone who would like to manufacture their own hexapod or a similar robot.

Development platform

 

Sherbet, an Ergonomic Gaming Keypad

Sherbet is a DIY ergonomic and stylish keypad custom designed for gaming. When developer and electronics hobbyist Colin also known as “Billiam” had to retire his Logitech G13 keyboard, he decided to build his own custom gaming keyboard from scratch.

The 3D printed keyboard features a unique curved design for the keys and an attached arm rest. A small joystick is also embedded just where the thumb would naturally rest. The design is named for a stripe of colorful sherbet paint that wraps around the keyboard’s base giving it a unique and playful design.

The project is driven by a Teensy 3.2 and Billiam provides excellent detailed instructions in his blog on every part of the process from prototyping the keys and arm rest to finishing the complete board. Source code for the controller as well as print files are also offered on Billiam’s site, giving visitors everything they’d need to know to build their own Sherbet (or Tangerine or Chartreuse, if you will). Billiam’s website also includes CNC projects and a music sequencer.

SmartLED Shield for Teensy 4

Pixelmatix has made a new SmartLED Shield capable of driving large 128×64 LED panels at 240 Hz refresh & 36 bit color!

This shield is currently being made available on Crowd Supply.

The SmartMatrix library offers amazing features. 36 and 48 bit color can be used, or 24 bit color can be automatically expanded with gamma curves for color correction, good contrast, smooth gradients.  Larger 128×128 HUB75 LED panels can also be used at lower refresh rates.

Much of this is made possible by Eric Eason’s work with FlexIO and DMA on Teensy 4.

Complete details & discussion are on this forum thread and the Crowd Supply project page.

 

 

DIY Neutron Orgone Accumulator Synthesizer Module

The Neutron Orgone Accumulator is a unique complex digital oscillator built by J.Matheson who uses usernames Neutron7 and jakplugg.

Basic operation involves the mixing of a core of three waveforms which can be dynamically scanned. Modulation and effects can be applied to produce sound. The first version of the build is documented on the Muffwiggler forums, with a beta version of the build guide available as a PDF.

There is a high performance version of 2.0 firmware designed to work with Teensy 3.1 at 144Mhz overclock. It will increase the sample and calculation rate from 50khz to 90.909khz. Details of the newer version and relevant code can be found on Github.

Steve Batz made a build of the module and documented the process in detail on his blog and in this video on his Facebook page.