DIY Any Kind of Controller with the MagicKey Input Board

Turn your world into a creative extravaganza. With this little controller board, you can use anything conductive as the keys for your creative works – be it your computer or fruit. The MagicKey 3-in-1 DIY MIDI Gamepad Keyboard has the power to do that and more.

The SunFounder MagicKey is a multi-function controller board based on the Atmel ATmega32U4. You can use it to control games, MIDI music applications, and much more. Connect buttons, keyboard keys, conductive paints, or more to create unique and fun input devices. Simply connect the board to a PC or a Raspberry Pi board to get started.

Ready to experiment? The MagicKey is currently 17% off the regular price for just $32.99 in the Technabob Shop. Use code GIFTSHOP15 for an additional 15% off this awesome present for the DIY-nerd.

Permaduino makes your Arduino projects permanent (video)

Permaduino makes your Arduino projects permanent video

Arduinos are fun to tinker with, but there's one problem. Once you've built something cool, you pretty much have to tear it down to use your board for another project. Sure, you can always buy multiple Arduino boards or proto shields, but what if you want to turn your creation into something a bit more permanent and a lot more compact? Say hello to Permaduino, a small battery-powered Arduino prototype board that just launched on Indiegogo. It features an Atmega328P (natch), two AAA battery holders with a 3 to 5V DC-DC converter (up to 180mA), a 25-column breadboard with VCC and ground, plus FTDI, AVR-ISP and USB interfaces. Best of all, Permanuino conveniently fits inside a standard 8mm videotape case (as long as you don't mount large components on that breadboard). Interested? Hit the break for the Indiegogo link and campaign video.

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Source: Permaduino (Indiegogo)

DIY Bluetooth Network Monitor: ISP Spy

There are many programs that track the speed and health of your Internet connection; many routers even have this functionality integrated in their admin page. But Zak Kemble wanted a way to check those stats at a glance without logging on anywhere or opening an application, so he made a small network monitor.

bluetooth network monitor by zak kemble

Zak used an ATmega328P microprocessor, a 1.8″ LCD, a Bluetooth module and a paper display holder to make the device. It gets its information from a Netgear DG834Gv3 router running OpenWRT. The router runs a shell script that obtains the data – which include upload and download speeds, ping, packet loss and even a clock and an email notifier – and sends it to a serial port. Finally a Bluetooth module attached to the serial port sends the date to the monitor. The monitor also has two display modes – the one pictured above and a simpler graphical display.

Another day, another tinkerer with an awesomely complex solution to a simple problem. Head to Zak’s website for his build guide.

[via Lifehacker]

MechBass Grooves on Some Muse

Despite the increasing number of robotic musical acts, I’m still always tickled by the idea of a band that does away with the human element, and puts robots in their rightful place – to entertain their masters. The latest robot musician – a mechanical bass-playing ‘bot.


Engineering student James McVay created the MechBass as his honors project at New Zealand’s Victoria University. The robot uses a set of four individual bass strings along with a motorized pick wheel to jam out its tunes.

pick wheel

A linear-motion system moves a pitch-shifter that frets the strings by applying pressure to them, and a servo-controlled damper mechanism can stop the strings from vibrating quickly. Optical pickups then capture the sounds, and send them to an audio circuit and amplifier.

mech bass damper sensor 2

The whole system is controlled using MIDI signals and an audio programming language called ChucK, so it can play pretty much any tune that can be played on a bass. A custom controller board using an ATMega328 processor acts as the bridge between the software and the hardware.

mech bass circuit

But don’t just take my word for how cool this thing is. Here’s a video clip of MechBass pounding out the intense bassline of Muse’s Hysteria.

While I don’t know if it’ll be replacing Flea in the Red Hot Chili Peppers anytime soon, I’m still totally impressed by MechBass’ musical talents.

Check out complete details on the build here (PDF).

[via Wimp]

HOVIS Eco Humanoid Robot Charms Its Way Into Our Hearts

If you’ve ever wanted your own little humanoid robot to do your bidding, there’s a new kid in town you might want to check out. It’s called the HOVIS Eco, and it comes from Korea’s Dongbu Robot company.

hovis eco robot 1

The medium-sized humanoid Eco robot measures about 16.4″ tall by about 7.6″ wide, weighs just under 4 pounds, and has 20 degrees of freedom thanks to a large number of servo actuators. Unlike some humanoid robots, Eco has a friendly, modern look about it that’s not freaky or intimidating in any way. In fact, the little robot looks like it would be at home in a science-fiction movie that doesn’t involve a dystopian future.

hovis eco robot 2

Under its hard and shiny shell, Eco is powered by an Atmega 128 controller, which can be programmed using using bundled graphical editing software, or via a variety of APIs, using C++, Java, Python or the Android SDK. It can also be controlled by wireless remote. It comes with distance and sound sensors, and can be upgraded with an optional gyro sensor as well. The robot even comes packaged in a handy tool case making it easy to maintain and store.

hovis eco robot 3

While I can’t find a video of the Hovis Eco in action, here’s some footage of the Hovis Lite, the Eco older, uglier brother pulling off some impressive moves:

Priced at $900 (USD), the Hovis Eco is no toy, but it’s a serious hobbyists robot. If you’re interested in getting your hands on one, you can find it over at RoadNarrows Robotics.