Voices From the Past: Recovering Audio From Wire Recordings

By Kristina Panos

wire recorder setup

[Nick]‘s grandfather was quite the old school hacker. In the 1940s, he built his own wire recorder and microphone to capture everything from his children’s Chirstmas wishes to his favorite songs and programs from the radio. Only 20 or so spools have survived and were doomed to silence until [Nick] was able to find a vintage wire recorder, restore it, and feed digitized audio into Audacity.

Once he restored one of the two machines that he was able to get his hands on, [Nick] was in business. Since his grandfather also rolled his own spools, [Nick] had to build a playback spindle that would hold them. His uncle found an old mechanical counter to do the job, which [Nick] secured to the workbench. He fed the output from the wire recorder’s playback head into a guitar pre-amp, effectively digitizing the audio for recording in Audacity.

After playing all the spools, he adjusted the levels where necessary and cleaned up the recordings. His biggest challenge was feeding the wires back on to their original spools, which he managed with an electric drill and a rubber grommet. Be sure to check out the mp3 clips on [Nick]‘s page. If you’re in the mood for old audio hacking stories,

Via: Hack a Day

    

Extrinsic Motivation: Off-grid Solar System Monitoring Solution

By Matt Terndrup

This solar monitoring project was entered in The Hackaday Prize and didn’t make the semifinal cut, but it is worth featuring on the site because we think that it is pretty cool. The idea started all the way back in May of 2013 when [Michel] was planning to attempt to bring his house totally off the grid in an effort to become as independent from the local Utility company as possible. After a bit of calculating, he figured out that the solar cells on the roof could potentially provide about 80% of the power needed, which of course took into account the lack of sun during the winter months in his area.

[Michel] posts a lot of the technical details on the Hackaday.io page and lists the components that were required to set up this system. At night, a lighting mechanism shows whether the building is being run off of the Photovoltaic (PV) System or if it is getting power from the grid. He states in the projects logs why it is important to monitor the solar cells and provides some amazing graphs of the data that was recorded through the energy-intelligence platform that he integrated into his home. An example can be seen posted below. A few quick specs of the project include the solar field being made of 16 solar modules providing 4300 Wp (Watts – peak) of electrical power. The system comes with a comprehensive remote control as well. We like this idea a lot. Now, would you install something like this up on your own home or office? Let us know in the comments.


SpaceWrencherThis project is an official entry to The Hackaday Prize that sadly didn’t make the quarterfinal selection. It’s still a great project, and worthy of a Hackaday post on its own.

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Via: Hack a Day

    

Purely Mechanical Display Uses 804 Balls To Create a Kinetic Display

By James Hobson

breaking wave kinetic sculpture

Whoa. That’s all we have to say about this art installation.

Oops, did we say art? Don’t let that three letter word scare you, because this project called Breaking Wave is nothing short of an absolutely incredible, fully mechanical, machine.

It’s kind of hard to tell in the picture, but there are 804 rusty spheres hanging from cables which make up the pixels of this display. Each of those cables could be attached to a servo for a very simple, digital-to-analog display — it’d be expensive, but you could display anything. But no, that’s not how this works. Instead of each of those cables is wrapped around a different size drum or roller, which are all connected to a large central hub motor driving a cam.

As the beastly hub-motor spins, the display morphs and changes shapes. It is all pre-programmed manually by varying the sizes of the rollers and the lengths of the cables, a mind numbing task of its own. What’s more, because it is three dimensional, you can only see the patterns if you’re standing in the right place at the right time.

And the artist statement? Actually kind of makes sense:

Breaking Wave tells the story of the search for patterns, and the surprising results that come by changing our point of view. 804 suspended spheres move in a wave-like formation. When the wave crests and breaks, the balls hover momentarily in a cloud. From almost anywhere in the room, this cloud is purely chaotic, but step into one of two hidden spots, and this apparent chaos shows a hidden pattern.

Scientists search through billions of experimental data points in order to find patterns to develop new drugs, to treat Multiple Sclerosis, Cancer, and other diseases. Without a particular framework or perspective, these are just 0′s and 1′s, with no form or information. But with the perspective of an understanding of molecular dynamics, these data points create a clear picture about the hidden dynamics within the body, and allow scientists to craft drugs to successfully treat these diseases.

And how it was made:

[Thanks Scott!]

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Via: Hack a Day

    

The ChalkJET: An Ink Jet Printer For The Streets

By James Hobson

Chalk Jet

Need to do some guerrilla street advertising? What you need is the ChalkJET 9000, an ink jet printer on wheels.

Using two Arduino Duemilanoves for the brains, this little cart features eight cans of spray chalk which can be individually actuated. Small solenoids pull down on levers in order to spray the cans. Encoders on the wheels of the cart keep track of the spacing in between each pixel as the cart gets dragged along.

A small LCD mounted on the handle allows you to select which text you would like to print, but it doesn’t look like manual entry of new words is possible — You’ll need to load up a library while connected to a computer before hitting the streets!

This was the final project for four UC Berkeley mechanical engineering students back in 2009. Can you imagine throwing a larger version of this onto a car?

[via

Via: Hack a Day