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A morning spent murdering Nirvana – come as you are.

A couple of months ago a good friend bought me a stylophone for my birthday. I had a blast snarling out noises that were close to songs we all know and love. unfortunately due to my clumsy inaccurate nature I have never managed to play a whole song at the correct tempo with out playing wrong notes. The novelty soon wore off and the stylophone was left to gather dust on a shelf in my office.

I have a list of tasks as long as my arm to do at work but this morning when I got in the motivation levels were at an all time low. Instead of doing anything useful I decided it was time time to put the stylophone to good use. Knowing that my ability to  manipulate the stylus over those circuit board keys was never gonna improve I decided I would cheat and automate the circuit connections that are made when the stylus connects with one of the keys.

The video attached shows the result of todays procrastination. So far I have only automated 10 of the keys direct from the arduino.if I get time in the near future I will extend its functionality using an 8bit shift register so that the arduino can play all the keys. I also intend to write a processing sketch interface so that inputting songs is easier and more intuitive (and not murderous to classic rock songs).

Written using swype on htc feature hd

Beautifully made self adjusting dining table goes from seating six to twelve autonomously.

I have been busy running through ideas for automated instruments I could use to enrich my performances at open mic nights. One of the main points of interest for me is percussion as it is usually quite over looked at open mic nights apart from the occasional set of bongos. I have been drawing up sketches for a snare drum played using dropping marbles and also for a cassette player hack. The main hurdle for any automated instrument is how will it be sequenced to play itself. Last night I sat down for a while and coded a very very basic sequencer in processing that controlled an Arduino with Firmata installed. There is nothing fancy about the code but I believe this will be a good solid starting point for most of the automated instruments I could ever imagine. There are some images below of the basic setup and a video of the sequencer on the screen and the Arduino carrying out the sequence using LED’s. I am quite happy to publish the source code on request.

I am a massive fan of elaborate, over the top, complex mechanisms that achieve small tasks. I love everything from the countless examples of Rube Goldberg machines out there to the imaginative and humorous scribblings of Heath Robinson. This mechanism designed by Rob Higgs is a beautifully elaborate autonomous bottle opener/pouring device. I find it quite hard to imagine how you would begin to build an object like this.

cleverbot is a product of jabberwacky.com. Jaberwacky lets you create a robot and then teach it to chat about what ever you would like it to chat about.  The idea is that insurance companies and other commercial sites could teach the robot about what they do and then the robot could be placed on their website to help customers with questions and advice.  That’s the practical side of it but for me i just enjoyed chatting absolute nonsense to it and reading its random responses. At one point it asked me if i tasted of cheese and it also told me the the giant pyramid with the eye is watching me. Perfectly normal conversations! The idea behind the site is pretty amazing! It would be good if they published an API for the service so that people could link Arduino and other hardware to the site and have actual AI talking projects.

I have learnt so much from the ambles of the great minds published on Ted talks.  Recently the most inspirational talk has been about Theo Jansen . Nature is a most peculiar thing and these automaton are impressive in their likeness to some very familiar living things. Its quite daunting to imaging what research goes into realising the behavior of and creating such objects as the ones in the video.


Just found a really nice blog on automata which documents some fantastic and ingenious mechanisms. There are some beautiful diagrams and clear explanations of how the mechanisms work.

heres the link

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