While many Makers have musical skill, others attempt to compensate for their lack of it by producing automatic instruments that play themselves. One such attempt started in 2015 as a collaborative project between three University of Delaware professors as part of an initiative known as “Artgineering.” This was meant to “create a public spectacle… to demonstrate that engineering and art can work together harmoniously.”
Although many would consider engineering to be an art in itself, if you’d like to create your own robotic band, this Instructables write-up for the GuitarBot is a great place to start.
The guitar-playing robot is comprised of three major components: the brains, a strummer, and a chord mechanism. An Arduino Mega, a specially-ordered PCB and several shields are used for control, and a series of solenoids press down frets as needed. Finally, strumming is handled by a pick that is pulled by a DC motor and belt assembly, all of which is held up by an aluminum frame.
If you suppose that electromagnetically-propelled projectiles are strictly the purview of well-funded government research labs, think again! Using two sets of coils wrapped around custom 3D-printed base structures and an Arduino Nano for control, YouTuber “Gyro” created his own coilgun capable of propelling steel fast enough to dent a piece of wood.
When fired, a photodiode at the end of each electromagnet coil sends a signal to the Arduino. This, in turn, shuts off the coil, allowing it freely escape the barrel.
As noted in his Instructables write-up, the gun is constructed without large capacitors, which can be expensive and dangerous. Instead, two LiPo battery packs are combined to produce around 22 volts, though this and the number of coils used, could be increased to produce a more powerful device!
In addition to controlling the lasers, his device can sense hand motion on top of it using an array of 12 ultrasonic sensors, and can even coordinate music through a built-in MIDI output.
As seen in the demonstration video, Bumstead’s project–which was constructed with the help of a CNC router–looks like a cross between a coffee table and a test fixture for a space vehicle. When activated, a brushless motor spins the two lasers at a high speed, while the Mega controls the laser angles via two servos, creating a unique vortex-like light show!
I included distance sensors in the device so that the laser sheets could be manipulated by moving your hand towards them. As the person interacts with the sensors, the device also plays music through a MIDI output. It incorporates ideas from laser harps, laser vortexes, and POV displays. The instrument is controlled with an Arduino Mega that takes in the inputs of ultrasonic sensors and outputs the type of laser sheet formed and music generated. Due to the many degrees of freedom of the spinning lasers, there are tons of different laser sheet patterns that can be created.
If you’re having trouble finding time to work out because you’d rather play video games, then this is the solution you’ve been waiting for. The Cykill device modifies a normal exercise bike into a device that won’t let you power on your Xbox unless you’re pedaling sufficiently fast enough.
Making this even more motivating, is that if you stop pedaling fast enough, it immediately cuts power, ruining any in-progress game, and potentially even damaging your hard drive!
To implement this hack, Instructables user “Fuzzy-Wobble” used an Arduino Uno to intercept the bike’s normal control signals. From this data, as well as settings on a custom control panel, it decides whether or not to activate switchable plug that provides power to the Xbox.
As entertaining as watching Netflix may be, you’re not burning a lot of calories while binging on your favorite shows. In order to do both at the same time, hacker “Roboro” modded a stationary exercise bike to stop streaming if he’s not maintaining his fitness goals.
Bicycle speed is derived from the signal that’s normally sent to the built-in display. He uses an Arduino Nano to hijack the square wave, and sends this info to the streaming computer serially via USB.
Starting the Python script and inputting some information, Firefox will start to stream Netflix and display in real-time for current workout information such as round, speed, nominal speed for this round and time to next round. If the user goes below the nominal speed for too long, Netflix will pause until the user has gotten back up to speed.
Steven Gioiosa recently signed up for a “Makecourse” class at the University of South Florida, where he was required to build something that featured both an Arduino and a 3D-printed part. As a fan of Portal, and especially the sentry turrets in the game, it was an easy decision to construct one of these devices for himself.
Gioiosa’s turret recreation is based on an Arduino Uno connected to an HC-SR04 ultrasonic sensor, and features motion-activated lasers that move back and forth, along with audio feedback, depending on how far away the human target is. The project also involves a bunch of servos: one to open the arms out, another to pitch them up and down, and two more to move each arm left and right.