Linkdump: January 2015

Podtique: podcast player in an antique radio

Podtique: Antique Podcast Player

Our friend Rick stopped by to show us his latest project, which he calls Podtique: a podcast player built into an antique radio cabinet. Using the original knobs, you tune in on “stations” which play different podcasts, with realistically generated static in between.

Podtique

The whole thing is run on a BeagleBone Black, and uses NeoPixel backlighting behind the dial. He’s written up the build on his blog, posted his code on github, and shared a heap of build photos in an album on flickr.

A Vintage Melody Synthesizer IC

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Leigh Klotz, author of Ham Radio for Arduino and PICAXE, gave us this interesting chip from the 80′s to play with: a UM3482A “Multi Instrument Melody Generator” IC.  While not quite rare, it is a bit of a vintage curiosity these days, and we wired one up to see what exactly it does.

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The vintage Radio Shack Archer package it came in was minimalist (though not quite this minimalist as it came to us– imagine that the chip were still there in the bubble). It promises not just 12 tunes, but circuit diagrams as well.

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This Archer-branded datasheet (including the promised circuit diagrams) came stapled to the back.  You can download a readable copy of the manufacturer’s original datasheet here.

“A mask-ROM-programmed multi-instrument melody generator, implemented in CMOS technology. It is designed to play the melody according to the previously programmed information and is capable of generating 12 songs with 3 different effects: piano, organ, and mandolin.”

Amongst the twelve musical selections are London Bridge, Row Row Row Your Boat, Oh My Darling Clementine, and (of course) Happy Birthday.  Suggested applications included toys, door bells, music boxes, and telephones.  (File under: Customized ringtones of the 80′s?)

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The three little graphs in the upper right show the three different timbres (the “instruments,” in the phrase “multi-instrument”) in terms of amplitude versus time. The other diagrams show how to wire it up to a speaker and how to configure the various inputs to select which song to play and so forth.

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We breadboarded up a sample circuit from the datasheet, substituting with parts we had on hand, including a little magnetic buzzer as the speaker. A 2xAA battery holder is connected up to the power and ground rails.  There is a momentary button switch to select the next melody in the set, and a row of DIP switches to set the configuration options.

And sure enough, it plays melodies.

Orange Spice Marmalade

Orange Spice Marmalade

It’s citrus season around here, and that means marmalade. Whole cloves, cardamom seeds and cinnamon sticks decorate this sweet orange preserve and give it an aroma reminiscent of holiday desserts and spiced cider.

Orange Spice Marmalade

Ingredients:
15 navel oranges
2 cups water
6 cups sugar
1 tablespoon whole cloves
1 tablespoon cardamom seeds
1 stick of cinnamon per container

The procedure is from our Marmalade Redux: peel the oranges and cut the peel into strips. Juice the oranges and put the strips of peel, juice and water in a pot to cook. Take the pithy pulpy parts leftover from juicing three or four of the oranges. Cut into smaller chunks and tie into several layers of cheesecloth or a cloth jelly bag (like this one) to cook in the pot with everything else.

After cooking for about 20-30 minutes, the pieces of peel should be softened. Remove the pith bag and put it in the cold equivalent of a double boiler: a bowl on top of a layer of ice that’s in a larger bowl. Turn the bag over every so often to help it cool down more quickly. When it is cool enough to handle, squeeze out a few tablespoons of the cooked pulp and pith through the cloth–this will provide the pectin that will help the marmalade to gel.

Put the pectin goo into the pot (which you conveniently left simmering on the stove) and add the sugar, cloves and cardamom. Stir regularly and cook to the desired consistency. To test consistency, put a spoonful on a plate in the fridge. If it’s too runny after cooling for a few minutes, keep simmering and test again after a few minutes. Put one cinnamon stick in each storage container you’ll be using and pour the finished marmalade over it. Makes about four and a half pints.

If you want to can it for longer storage, Ball has a nice introduction to canning (pdf), and additional resources on their website.


Other fruit preserves from the Play with your food archives:

Digi-Comp II replica in Terraria

YouTube user Richard Lewis built a working replica of the Digi-Comp II mechanical computer in the sandbox video game Terraria.

The replica makes extensive use of the so-called “Hoik glitch” in the game, that allows for rapid, controlled player movement, much like gravity guides the balls downward in the original.

More information about the version in Terraria is posted on the video page.

From the mailbag: DIY holiday lights

Chris wrote in:

I wanted to say thank you for writing your blog and the products you’ve created.  I used both to make my christmas lights this year.  Couldn’t have done it without you.

 

I used an ATmega xx8 mini dev kit programmed with an ISP shield to control a series of WS2811 LED pixels to make beautiful light. The controller is designed to be standalone, not part of a bigger system. I used a BCD thumbwheel switch to select up to 10 looks.

 

We can give credit to the FastLED Library team for the heavy lifting.  The case is from your friends at Adafruit. The target boards don’t quite fit in the Adafruit cases.  Thankfully ya’ll had the schematic PDFs posted and I saw I could literally cut corners to make them fit.

Back to why I appreciate what you do so much, growing up my dad tried to teach me about electronics.  He was putting motorola 6802 CPU’s in Sperry New Holland hay bale wagons.  Unlike how easy we have it today with Arduino he had to program in assembly…

 

I got a degree in Theatre and loved doing sound and lighting design.  So I really love the art you put into your technology. I’ve built many of your kits.  My favorite are the interactive LED panels.  Blinking lights!  I like to put them behind the ikea glass “white boards” so my ideas really shine when I write them down.  I’m looking forward to seeing what you do in 2015!

EggBot holiday project roundup

It’s close to the holidays, which means people are pulling out their EggBots and getting creative. Last year, we posted a set of holiday designs and some tips for working with ornaments. Here are a few projects we’ve found this year.

Erin Ruppert made this lovely “First Christmas” ornament. The gold ink looks great on the clear ball.

Erin also made ornaments with ornaments on them, which somehow seems fitting.

Lotte made an ornament for her mom at FABKlas, a maker education program.

The folks at FABsterdam made this Mario ornament.

MAKE Ventura used gold Sharpie markers on a matte finish ornament to great effect. Other makerspaces are playing with their EggBots, too. The Johnson County Library in Kansas is doing Eggbot ornament tutorials in their makerspace.

Chris Lynas took the EggBot to “work and school Christmas fair raising money for charity – result: £200 in under four hours!”

Fran marked up eggs for a family igloo making craft party.

Lastly, our friend Miguel engraved glass ornaments with his EggBot.