DIY Featured

DIY: Creating a flickrering garden lantern triggered by the wind


Make it and hang it in your garden, and watch it blink away happily when the wind blows. Check out photos and video from the build.


DIY: The WEALTH AUTOPORTABLE homemade Ipod dock!

I came across a cool tutorial over at Instructables yesterday, for using an old AM/FM radio as an amplifier for your ipod or other portable audio device, and decided to give it a whirl.

So this is the old radio I will use:
Ipod "dock" from 50s radio

Cool huh! It came with the house when we bought it from my childrens great grandparents. I couldn’t find any dates stamped on it, but I do get the feeling that it is from the fifties. Could be mistaken about that :)

And I do believe it is an “Autoportable” of the world reknown WEALTH brand :) I wonder if they went out of business or changed the name. Must remember to Google them. Or not, I kind of like the idea of Wealth going out of business permanently :)

Ipod "dock" from 50s radio

Shot from the back. Just four screws away from fun and games! This is actually the part I like best about fiddling with electronics.

Ipod "dock" from 50s radio

God dammit this radio is OLD. The circuits on the circuit board is buildt up THICK, and it looks like it has been done by hand! Respect! It is surprisingly dust free in here, but there seem to have been some acid damage from old batteries once upon a time, so I did a little cleanup.

The white thread that criss-crosses is connected to the tuner knob.

Ipod "dock" from 50s radio

Doing a little “circuit-bending” while I’m at it. In this picture the green aligator clip hits the spot where I got the most amplification of the audio (compared to hooking it up directly to the speaker). I would like more boost to the signal, but I can’t get access to the radios amplifier without taking off the top and taking out the circuit board completely, and I am worried that I would do irreparable damage if I tried. There is a real danger that SOMETHING will snap, a solder joint, a cable, or the string connected to the tuner. Can’t risk it!

The white aligator clip is actually connected to the audio output jack (for the headphones. Easy!

These are the two points I ended up soldering the wires to, but I tested out alot of different “bend points”, that is points on the circuit that created interesting shortcuts = weird audio effects. But this isn’t a circuit-bending project (and my girlfriend is about to murder me), so I will just solder it all up and call it a day.

The original solder is layered on so thick that all I have to do is apply enough heat to melt the solder. This actually took a while, but I managed to work my thin cables down into the solder.

I then put the other ends of the cables out though the hole for the headphone jacks, and soldered an audio jack to it (after testing and smiling alot).

Ipod "dock" from 50s radio


It is said that god lives in the details. Well, then god ain’t been anywhere near this audio jack! I took it from an old dvd-rom I had laying around. For some reason I had problems desoldering it from the board, so I just cut the board with a pair of pliers, and ripped it out. I guess I could make this prettier some day when I have the parts.

Also note that I didn’t cut any new holes in the radio, I simply used the existing Ear-phone jack which as a hole straight through. The observant reader might also wonder why I didn’t just use rewire the air phone jack allready in the radio! Well, because I like old things. Alot. And I would like the things I do to them to be as reversible as possible. If this had been a crappy, new shitbox of a radio, I would have whacked it with a hammer, spraypainted it, put it on fire, filmed it and called it art :).

Ipod "dock" from 50s radio

All done! Ok, so I am not testing with an Ipod, I only wrote that to be fancy. No not really, the Ipod just got a new update, so it’s reformatting itself and getting new firmware + transferring 40 gb og crap back onto its shiny hard drive, so a portable cd player will have to do. This JVC cd-player is fantastic, it is my first one, bought with one of my very first pay checks (summer job, washing floors) over 20 years old, and it simply refuses to die! Maybe they knew how to make things more solid in the 80s?

I filmed this with my Nokia N95, so the quality is not that good, but at least you get an idea of what it looks and sounds like.

After filming this I switched to the Ipod, but was a little dissapointed because there was quite a drop in volume. A little fiddling with the EQ on the ipod improved the sound a little, but even when cranking the ipod up all the way I couldn’t quite get the same volume or depth of sound as I got from the JVC. I guess the JVC output signal is better amplified…

This is just a fast hack, it basically just connects the ipod directly to the speaker (but with a little extra juice from the radio circuit added). I really wanted to try to connect the ipod to a spot between the radios tuner and the radios amplifier. Right now the radios volum control has no effect on the radio.

The reason I didn’t do it properly? It was getting late (around 00:30), and I was afraid I would damage the ancient circuit board or the fragile string that was connected to the radios tuner dial. I had to basically take everything apart if I wanted access to the components on the other side, so I think I will put that off to a later time.

I took the radio to bed with me (after waking up the missus to get her admiration of course :) and listened to the sweet tunes of Anthony and the Johnsons until I fell asleep.

When I woke up, the house was still here, no shortcircuits or fires :)

= Big success.

DIY DIY with kids

Deadly cute DIY Vibrobot!

Creating a vibrobot with 9v battery, motor, and potentiometer
See it on Flickr

I made this cute little vibrobot today, with some spare parts I had lying around. Got inspired by an old Makezine article, and decided to smack it together.

It turned out pretty cool actually, it hums around like a happy little bug. I gave it a cute nose with a potentiometer, so when you twist the nose you regulate the speed of the motor. I finished with adding more cuteness in the form of magic marker eyes and black spots on the back.

Here is a quick video:

My daugter thought it was awsome and figured out the potentiometer bit all by her self. My sons couldn’t care less. Guess who will inherit my tools when I die! :)

Creating a vibrobot with 9v battery, motor, and potentiometer

I think I have to modify the vibro bit a little to get more action out of it. I just taped a small nut to the shaft of the motor, and it doesn’t really vibrate as much as I hoped for. The bigger the nut the better the action! Wisdom!

The feet are a piece of fence wire I found lying around, and I used some pieces from a mechano set as a frame to hold stuff.

See more images of it on Flickr.

Parts used:
Wire for the feet
Wire cutters
9v battery and connector thingy
Small motor from some broken toy, had it forever.
Red electrical tape
Soldering iron and solder (not really needed, you could just use tape … or gum).
Mechano pieces. I fastened the feet by pressing the wire between two metal mechano pieces with four screws.

(Ps: There is a clear danger of burning out the motor when using a 9 volt battery)


My first circuit bent toy!

I’ve been really hung up on circuit bending and toy hacking for a few weeks now, and thought I would give it a try.

This is my first bend. I added one button to a broken radio controlled “beetle” that adds an interesting looping sound to it.

In the video I first play a few of the normal sounds this toy create, the bend first comes in when I push the little button. If I keep two buttons pressed it loops and plays a nice, weird sound, and it is also possible to make some other interesting rhythms.

I also desoldered an audio jack from an old cd-rom drive, and connected it to the tiny speaker, so now I can connect it to an amplifier or a stereo headset.

I’ve always thought circuit bending was really hard to get into, but all you need to find interesting sounds/effects is you thumb and some spit. Just poke around on the circuit board, randomly “short circuiting” stuff until something says “beeeerrrrppppiiiiiii”. Then you solder something to those spots on the circuit-board, like a button or a potentiometer.

I tried adding a “pot” to this bend, and it does actually change the pitch of the sound slightly, but not enough to make it interesting enough, so I didn’t solder it in.

This is the second time I have ever touched a soldering iron, so this is definitely not a hard “hobby” to get into. Lots of fun for grown up (and) kids, and lots of cool people creating cool stuff on the web to be inspired by.

DIY DIY with kids Featured Greener

DIY for kids: Toy Art Car Project!

Noah (6) and Leo (4) creates their own “art car“. A great environmentally friendly DIY project to do with your kids.

Art Code DIY Flash Open Source Portfolio

Open source flash-based sound sequenzer

I’ve been thinking alot about making a soundbased installation in Adobe Flash, using sensors and switches, and I’ve gotten around to making a few small eksperiments/prototypes as research, which I’m planning to share on this site later.

But I also found this old experiment I wrote in Flash 5 (!) and wanted to share it. It is a visual sequenzer (*) / sound toy that lets you drag icons onto a “soundstage”, each icon representing a sample. As you press play a line starts moving vertically, and as the line hits one of the icons, the corresponding sound is played. You can also click, drag and hold an icon, and move it on top of the moving line to trigger the sound. There are two types of sounds. The yellow icons trigger different “wet finger on glass” sounds, and the greywhite icons trigger sonar ping sounds.

Open Source

The code is pretty old, and there are WAY better ways of making something like this with AS3, but still, here is the source code (fla) for it (it also includes the samples, which you are free to use in any way you like).

I still think it is a pretty nice little project, but I am toying with the idea of replacing the click and drag with a webcam mounted in the ceiling, and letting people moving around on the floor trigger the sounds. I have quite a lot to learn before I can make something like that, but I’ll get there!

* Ok, so I guess it is a stretch to call this a sequenzer, but I wanted to create a fun, easy and interesting way to generate a sound collage.