Monday, March 19, 2012

Today I made a polar bear speak Italian

aurora detail It's true - though very briefly. I took one of my polar bear proofs and used copper tape to make a spiral on the back, following this tutorial for paper speakers from the Kit-of-No-Parts by Hannah Perner-Wilson. I hooked up the controlling circuit for high current loads with a digital pin on my new Arduino Uno microcontroller (ciruit design by Tom Igoe, shown below, though I ignored the potentiometer, so my simple speaker has no volume control... though I could add one - the speaker is connected where the motor would otherwise go). So the parts needed are: Arduino with power (I used USB connection to my laptop), some jumper wires, a transitor, an extra 9V battery, the print with its copper tape spiral and a magnet (I used the magnet from within an old junked harddrive, because this is both free and a very strong magnet). Then after trying some simple tones, and basic modifications to C programs which come as examples with the Arduino, I tried running Leah Buechley's Simple Arduino Audio Samples tutorial. It's a software solution which lets you play a 4 second sample, so long as it is only 8 kHz and mono - without adding anything else to your microcontroller. It comes with a sample of someone saying 'Arduino Uno' with a proper Italian accent. It is rather cool to hear the print itself vibrating to make the sound of an Italian woman speaking. Now, I know that some of the above may read as goobledegook to anyone unfamiliar with basic electronics or programming, however the point you should take away from this is that it is now very posible for anyone to buy some simple open source parts (for about $25 - $30), follow some on-line tutorials and make their 2D artwork itself produce sound! It is in fact posible to do this even if you do not understand the circuit or the software (though, I would encourage anyone to try to follow that too, as with most things, it's easier than you think).

The next step to make some prints which interact with the viewer (listener?) audibly! Thanks to Synap for helping me get some appropriate sound samples! There will be more of this to come (I cannot bring myself to say 'stay tuned' as it is just too corny a pun).

No comments: