Michael Sobolak was inspired by the hardware dedicated to Ableton digital audio software, along with the DIY MIDI Fighter pads that others have constructed, to make his own light-up version.
His device is cut out of ¼-inch MDF, housing a 4×4 array of main buttons, 18 smaller buttons on the bottom and eight potentiometers, four of which are surrounded by NeoPixel rings.
To handle this massive array of inputs, he turned to the use of multiplexers, creating a spaghetti-like—though functional—wiring arrangement hidden underneath. The pad uses an Arduino Uno to control the NeoPixels, while a separate board is tasked with the MIDI interface.
You can see Sobolak’s project crank out music in the video below, with LEDs that react to potentiometer input settings.
3D printing, while revolutionary in many aspects, generally means you’re stuck with what you print. Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Tokyo, however, have created a printing system called Dynablock, which attaches specialized magnetic blocks together that can used over and over.
Dynamic 3D Printing combines the capabilities of 3D printers and shape displays: Like conventional 3D printing, it can generate arbitrary and graspable three-dimensional shapes, while allowing shapes to be rapidly formed and reformed as in a shape display. To demonstrate the idea, we describe the design and implementation of Dynablock, a working prototype of a dynamic 3D printer. Dynablock can form a three-dimensional shape in seconds by assembling 3,000 9 mm blocks, leveraging a 24 x 16 pin-based shape display as a parallel assembler. Dynamic 3D printing is a step toward achieving our long-term vision in which 3D printing becomes an interactive medium, rather than the means for fabrication that it is today. In this paper, we explore possibilities for this vision by illustrating application scenarios that are difficult to achieve with conventional 3D printing or shape display systems.
Extremely good linear actuators can be expensive and heavy, but what if you need something for relatively light applications? In the video below, James Bruton explains how you can make one using parts including a DC motor with a quadrature encoder, 3D-printed mounting, and a lead screw assembly.
His device uses an Arduino Uno for control, using pins 2 and 3 as interrupts to ensure correct rotation—and thus linear travel—sensing. Proper movement is facilitated with a pair of PID loops to regulate both the position and velocity, even under differing load and battery conditions.
Arduino code and CAD information can be found on GitHub, while an explanation of the project is seen in the video below.
Haptic feedback is something commonly used with handheld controllers and the like. However, in a virtual reality environment, it could also be used with the other interface surface attached to your body: the VR headset itself.
That’s the idea behind FacePush, which employs an Arduino Uno-powered pulley system to place tension on the straps of an HTC Vive headset. A corresponding pushing force is felt by the wearer through the headset in response to this action, creating yet another way to help immerse users in a virtual world.
Applications tried so far include a boxing game, dive simulator, and 360-degree guidance You can check it out in a short demo below, and read more about it in the full research paper here.
At Jason Poel Smith’s local pediatrician’s office, they have a variety of movie posters and displays to help make the environment more welcoming to kids. The most popular of them all is a huge inflatable Baymax robot character from the Disney movie Big Hero 6.
While a beautiful display, Smith decided that what would make it even better is if it could talk, and went to work adding this functionality with an Arduino Uno, an MP3 shield, and a very large button.
Now when kids arrive, they can hit the button to hear Baymax welcome them to the office as their “personal healthcare companion” via a pair of powered speakers.
Arduino code and more info is available here, if you’d like to build something similar!
Maker Thomas Meston needed a “mysterious looking device” that allows players to enter codes obtained via an original party game. What he came up with is entitled “Dr. Hallard’s Dream Transmission Box,” and consists of an Arduino, a party light, a smoke machine, and other components stuffed into a broken National NC-33 ham radio.
This radio makes a really excellent enclosure for the electronics inside, and when the device is properly activated the winning team hears a special message via an Arduino Uno-controlled MP3 shield, accompanied by laser lights and smoke.
How it works:
When the box is switched on you hear static and see a yellow light. The device is ready for the codes to be entered.
Once all three dials have been set, the player switches the bottom toggle to “send” state, the box will message back whether team blue or team red has entered any codes with a quick flash of either a red or blue led.
If all three dials are set to red codes, the red team wins and hears a special message through the speaker just for them. The laser lights and smoke machine will be activated at the same time.
If all three dials are set to blue, a different message will play as well as activating the smoke machine and laser lights.
More info on the project can be found here, and while it might seem like a shame to modify this kind of vintage equipment, Meston notes that he sees this as giving it a nice second life since it was previously non-functional.