Spaceship-themed Synthesizer for Kids

September 13, 2011 · Posted in Uncategorized 

“Several months ago I volunteered my skills to create a large, interactive control panel for an upcoming space-themed exhibit for the Kearney Area Children’s Museum. The project is multi-faceted and took quite a bit of time and energy to create, but in the end it came together very well!

Using the Auduino synth sketch for Arduino as a starting point, I created a synthesizer that uses two rotary potentiometers, two linear potentiometers and one infrared rangefinder to generate fun, interactive music. The sketch works best when multiple inputs are being used at once (i.e., moving your hand while moving a slider), but will generate some sort of tone regardless. The circuit board on the back is a simple class A amplifier and parallel 3.5mm audio jack to allow for more control over the volume of the synth. Now let’s just hope those kids don’t destroy the thing the first chance they get!”

Auduino: code.google.com/​p/​tinkerit/​wiki/​Auduino
Kearney Area Children’s Museum: kearneykidzone.com/​

The Auduino is a sound synthesiser based on the Arduino platform. It works on all Arduinos running at 16MHz – everything from the original Arduino serial to the Arduino Mega. It uses granular synthesis techniques to generate a distinctive filter-sweep sound that had much more character than boring square waves. Sound is generated by playing the same noise (‘grain’) repeatedly at very high speed. This merges into a tone that is an audible hybrid of the repetition rate and the original grain. It sounds quite similar to an oscillator with two resonating bandpass filters, although the different architecture means there are lots of additional interesting noises at parameter extremes. The grain consists of two triangular waves of adjustable frequency, and adjustable decay rate. This is based on FOF synthesis model, but using triangle waves instead of sine and using a rectangular window. The repetition rate is set by another control.

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