Tech Marinade
Uncovering Hidden Innovation in DIY Electronics
Weekend Crowd Fund Picks
by Ryan Sailor ▪ 9.7.2014 Crowd Fund

It’s a great weekend to browse a few crowdfund sites for new projects. Here are three projects you should consider backing.

CANBus Triple

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Modern cars are packed with electronics: engine diagnostics, dashboard panels, GPS units, satellite radio, cameras, sensors. Computers on wheels, basically. Simpler models might have a few dozen processors, whereas complex luxury vehicles can have well over 100. In order to allow the many diverse electronic units in the car to talk to each other, cars use a standard communication protocol called Controller Area Network Bus (shortened to CAN Bus).

As makers, we ask: how can we get inside this vast array of little car computers? The CANBus Triple – now funded on kickstarter – provides an answer. It’s an Arduino-compatible device with three CAN bus controllers. If you know how to install a car alarm, you can open up your car’s electronics to the CANBus Triple. For a $75 pledge, you will receive a first-run CANBus Triple from their campaign. Read more about it at the kickstarter.

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SoundsCape: Connecting All of Your Audio Devices with a BeagleBone Cape
by Kyle Patrick Cayabyab ▪ 4.11.2014 News

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The sleek new future seems to be reaching a wireless state, with Bluetooth devices cropping up everywhere providing need ranging from helping you use your collection of credit cards to a “LoJack” for your luggage. In contrast to these complex designs, the simpler tools provide the most possibilities. Take the SoundsCape for example. This BeagleBone Cape developed by Simple Media Networks provides a Bluetooth and audio I/O interface that will allow users to connect audio devices wirelessly.

The SoundsCape uses an ADAU1361 audio codec that includes that standard Stereo Line Input, Stereo Line Output, and Stereo Headphone Output with Mono Mic In. The codec supplies >98db Signal-to-Noise Ratio for both the inputs and outputs with the outputs supported by 3.5mm stereo jack. There is also compatibility with the LCD display interface. Unfortunately, you would have to choose between this interface and the Bluetooth interface due to General-Purpose I/O limitations on the BeagleBone.

As for the Bluetooth, the SoundsCape provides a Blue tooth 4.0 interface using the PAN1323 module from Panasonic. With it, users will be able to develop streaming by Advanced Audio Distribution Profile, Headset via Hands-Free Profile, and controls with Bluetooth Low Energy.

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Make Some Jams With The Audio Hacker Shield
by Kyle Patrick Cayabyab ▪ 12.9.2013 News

audioHacker-assembled-largeLaying down some sweet jams has always been one of my favorite pastimes and finding different ways to do it is definitely a supplementary activity. With the Audio Hacker shield for Arduino designed by Nootropic, jamming takes new turns as users can mix samples, build audio effects, or create their own synthetic sounds. The Audio Hacker can also be paired with a multitude of additional modules that include mixers and visual devices.

When fully assembled, the Audio Hacker contains audio input and output 3.5mm stereo jacks, a bypass switch to move between the input signal and output signal, a volume knob, two buttons for user input, a preamp gain to amplify weak input signals, and a battery connection to maintain the audio samples in non-volatile memory. One thing to note is that the input signal is converted to mono and the output will be in mono.

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Patchblocks Programmable Modular Synths
by Ryan Sailor ▪ 11.5.2013 News

Patchblocks is a new Kickstarter project aiming to develop a modular synthesizer and signal processing system that can be programmed by anyone, whether you are a musician, a tinkerer, or an engineer.

Each Patchblock synthesizer is a fully programmable signal processor. The design is simple: it has two buttons and two knobs. That might seem , but simplicity is the Patchblock’s strength. The included visual programming environment makes it easy to configure a Patchblock to apply any effect.

The software is free to download and try here: http://www.patchblocks.com/software (Note: as of writing, the download is down but it should be back soon). The interface is reminiscent of Max/MSP where the effects are created by connecting blocks together on the screen. For example, you can string together a control input block to a saw wave block’s frequency input. The program includes an emulator that allows you to test your creations – also known as “patches” – before you program your Patchblock hardware.

The Patchblock software in action.

The Patchblock software in action.

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