Blog Posts

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.

Jeremy dePrisco’s Teensy Breakout Board

Jeremy dePrisco has designed and fabricated a Teensy breakout printed circuit board that allows easy access to I/O pins with nearby ground and voltage rails.

Jeremy dePrisco is a musician and electronics tinkerer who uses Teensy in a number of his projects. He wanted a an easy way to connect in sensors to his Teensy boards, so he made a simple but effective breakout board. You can read about the design process on dePrisco’s website, and you can also buy the board on his Tindie page.

USB Laptop Keyboard Controller

Retired Boeing engineer turned microcontroller tinkerer Frank Adams posted this Instructable showing how to build your own USB laptop keyboard controller using a Teensy LC for over seventeen different models of keyboards.

The tutorial includes step-by-step guidance with detailed, annotated photos walking makers through the process from start to finish including in-depth technical information about keyboard design and control. Frank’s instructions are so detailed that even ambitious beginners could likely follow along with this challenging hardware project while learning a ton about how keyboards work, PCB design, and hardware manufacture. Frank includes software control files for over seventeen different keyboards from Dell, HP, Sony, Lenovo, IBM, Acer, Toshiba, and MSI. In his post to our forum, you can see a beautiful wooden case that Warren made using basic carpentry tools and a link to the source code for the Teensy LC. For those who would like to replicate Frank’s PCB, those files are included at the bottom of the tutorial. Frank also includes a video with the tutorial which he posted to Youtube that shows the process from the design of the circuit board for the Teensy through to programming and final install.


Harp of the City

Interactive artist and sound designer Josh Wilkinson’s project Harp of the City is an installation made up of fourteen carved wooden harps with playable LED-illuminated strings.

As Josh explains in his post to our forum, each harp is powered by a Teensy 3.6 which generates a PWM signal in keeping with the amplitude of the person’s touch. This is used to increase the brightness of the LEDs behind each string while at the same time triggering polyphonic sound samples via the Teensy audio library. The installation was built for the Vivid festival in Sydney Australia which was hosted in 2019. You can explore more of Wilkinson’s sound and interactive installation work on his website.

Exidy Sorcerer Tape Simulator

In the 1970s, personal computers entered into the household market for the first time. You’ve likely heard of or even owned earlier Apple or IBM models, but the Exidy Sorcerer might not ring a bell despite it possessing some truly innovative features not to mention a theatrical name.

The Exidy Sorcerer was released in 1978 shortly after the Apple II and was the first computer to come with an onboard cassette tape player. The player’s interface is, by modern standards, lacking with a baud rate of 300 or 1200, but that didn’t stop forum user Citabria from developing a really interesting upgrade solution using a Teensy 3.5.

Citabria describes the process of replacing the cassette interface with a Teensy 3.5, using the onboard SD card reader to transmit the software at a baud rate of 20833. In the forum post linked above, Citabria illustrates how to connect the Teensy to the Sorcerer’s motherboard (replacing the daughterboard used by the original interface) over UART and explains a bit about the development process.