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.
Software Engineer by day, DIY synth hobbyist by night, Mark Culross invented this 16 note, 2 voice MIDI synthesizer
based on a Teensy 4.0 and the Teensy audio board.
Culross, who develops hardware in his spare time, was ordering a PCB from OSHPark when a Teensy board popped up as a optional add on. Mark had never heard of a Teensy before but thought he might as well go ahead and order it to see what he could make with it.
When he discovered the Teensy audio board, he knew immediately what he wanted to make. Mark’s project and his reflections on the trials and tribulations of the build are well documented in his forum post where in addition to the technical details he also shares the link to his source files, schematics, and photos on drive. To help provide an idea of the synth’s capabilities, Mark has recorded and shared numerous videos of the synth in action playing everything from circus music to Bach’s Toccata and Fugue.
Gi1mic generously shared their source code which allows users to create the full 128 x 32 display or with some small changes use single panels or level up to a 256 x 32 layout. Instructions for assembling the hardware are also provided in the same repository.
Gi1mic used Teensy3.6 with the SmartMatrix library and SmartMatrixvV4 interface to create a simple command line protocol that allows users to browse the contents of the attached SD card, upload and download files using the ZMODEM protocol, change directories, display text messages and display animated GIF’s on the attached LED panels. Users can upload any GIF with a resolution of 132 x 64 and see it faithfully animated across the panels.
MAME (or Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator) is a command-line application that documents and replicates the hardware of antique arcade cabinets through software, enabling users to play thousands of classic arcade games like PacMan, Galaga, and Bubble Bobble using their own hardware. A fourth release was just announced for the MAME software which you can can download via their website or you can keep up with the latest development on their Github.
Some things are more complicated than they appear at first glance. Take, for example, the metal strings of a musical instrument.
How are these made? Forum user jpk generously shared the results of the two years he spent building his own metal musical string winder.
To accomplish the project, jpk used a Teensy 3.5 to handle button input, display output, and calculations and a Teensy 3.6 that handles motor movements, both set into custom PCBs. The machine can also be used to spool wire. Jpk has made his source code for the project available on Github as well as a timing library and a debouncing library he developed for use with the project. Below is a photo of a completed wound wire that uses copper and aluminum to produce a string that is 0.7mm in diameter.
MIT Media Lab have developed the new and improved Knitted Keyboard II using electrically conductive, capacitive and piezoresistive fabrics and fibers.
The Knitted Keyboard II, from Irmandy Wicaksono and team, is a multi-modal, soft and stretchable e-textile musical interface. It responds to touch, including keystrokes, pressure, squeezing and pulling, and continuous proximity, such as hovering and waving. This means that you can play it in a range of ways: like a keyboard, a theremin or as something that is a mixture of the two. You can even wear it like a scarf.
MIT’s Knitted Keyboard II runs on a Teensy 4.0 and uses five MPR121 proximity/touch controllers. It uses MIDI and can therefore sound like any software instrument you have access to, making it incredibly versatile.
The cozy hackerspace Ctrl-H in Portland runs an event twice a month called DorkbotPDX, which is where Hypothete came to show off Teensy TV, their super cool analog TV hack. The Teensy TV is made up of two parts: a Teensy 4.0 running an Arduino sketch, and a Node.js server sending data to the Teensy.
The whole project has been written up over on Hypothete’s GitHub, including wiring instructions, code and reference links if you want to dive further into the world of analog video hacking.
The Sky Vane is a reactive sound installation that generates a stunning ethereal soundtrack based on readings from atmospheric sensors.
The sounds you can hear in the tweets below are created from readings taken from a simple set of sensitive weather sensors (temperature, pressure, humidity, and light). These readings are dynamically assembled, manipulated, and evolved in real time using both a Raspberry Pi and Teensy microcontroller.
The Sky Vane is designed by pyka, a team that designs interactive sound tools and makes engaging experiences. Check out more projects from pyka on their website, their Twitter account or over on Instagram.
The Sky Vane is currently generating ‘Morning’ – the first of three day phases in the installation soundtrack that the readings from our atmospheric sensors is dynamically assembling, manipulating, and evolving in real time. pic.twitter.com/HVod4eH3X9