5 Artistic Artifacts from The Great Create

Artistic expression seems to be the common theme in the latest batch of Great Create projects. We have three projects pushing the boundaries of musical performance plus a hand-crafted miniature arcade cabinet complete with stunning panel art and a homemade Arduino that looks more like a member of the animal kingdom than a microcontroller. The growing maker movement is the blurring of the line between art and engineering. These projects are inspiring examples of that and their creators are all electronic Expressionists in our book.


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Arduino Theramin


What would sci-fi movies and TV shows from the 60s have been like without the eerie whistles of the Theramin? One of the earliest electronic instruments, the Theramin senses the proximity of the player’s hands and emits tones based on their distance. Similarly, this Arduino-powered Theramin uses an ultrasonic rangefinder to achieve a similar result to its famous big brother.


Why We Love It: As the most recent incarnation of Doctor Who would say, “Theramins (like bowties, fezzes, and Stetsons) are cool!”


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Bananaphone: A Touch Capacitance Synth


If you prefer a more tactile experience with your instruments, this project will be a lot more a-peel-ing. Forget about throwing out your overripe bananas; hook them up to a Parallax Propeller Quickstart Board and turn them into a fruity keyboard. All you need is 8 bananas (one for each note in the scale), a 220ohm resistor, an amplified speaker with connector, and some alligator jumper wires. Just beware, playing a banana keyboard encourages bruising.


Why We Love it: It adds a whole new level if you use it to play Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl”. “This synth is bananas, B-A-N-A-N-A-S.”


 Freeform Arduino

One of the coolest things about the open source movement is the way regular folks can take an existing piece of open-source hardware and customize it to their liking. This awesome freeform Arduino works exactly like the board you can find on RadioShack shelves, but it looks like an electronic praying mantis instead of the usual blue rectangle. Bonus, you can build your own Arduino with RadioShack parts.



Why We Love it: In so many ways the Arduino represents the merging of art and science. This piece of art is a brilliant embodiment of that idea.


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Micro Star Wars Arcade Machine


Many of our readers may not be old enough to remember the classic 1983 Atari Star Wars arcade game, but for those of us who do remember repeating the same blow-up-the-Death-Star-over-and-over-again game, this project inspires nostalgia and awe. The entire arcade structure—including the unique yoke control, LED coin slots and elaborate cabinet artwork—has been lovingly recreated at a 1:6 scale.



Why We Love it: The Force is strong with this Great Creator. As Yoda taught us, “Size matters not. Look at me; judge me by my size do you? And well you should not, for my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is.”


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de/Rastra Oscillographic Synthesizer

As society embraces flat-screen HDTV technology, all those outdated cathode ray tubes are filling landfills. Houston, Texas resident Kyle Evans has realized the untapped potential of this so-called antiquated technology and turned a tube TV into a multi-media musical instrument. In his own words, he “alter[s] the anatomical makeup of a CRT television, revealing the intrinsically hidden potentials of the technology through the repurposing and restructuring of its own ability.” Bottom line, it looks and sounds amazing.


Why We Love it: Adding a visual element to musical performances no longer requires sparklers on a guitar’s headstock and smoke bombs in the pickup cavities.



What great creations are you working on? We love seeing new submissions, so head over to The Great Create page and upload your project. Got any suggestions for gadgets you’d like the DIY community to create? Leave us some comments about what electronic devices you want to see brought to life.


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  • Brian Williams

    I’ve had a very frustrating time looking at your “Great Create” website.

    What is the POINT in looking at what other clever people have done if they are not willing to share how they did it?

    Why don’t you make it a condition of submission that the very least that is required to submit is a parts list and schematic? Or a URL that contains this info?

    Otherwise it’s nothing but bragging, as far as I can see. Yes, you can be inspired to reinvent the wheel, but who has time for that?

    There is a big debate going on in certain areas of science that people who publish learned papers should make their data available for others to recreate their results to see if their ideas are valid. This issue is no different.

    The only useful projects are the “partner” ones, which in the case of Instructables means that you can at least go to the website.

    However in the case of “Popular Mechanics” or “Popular Science”, if you are not a regular subscriber you are scr***d! You don’t even say _which_ issue to look in.

    As I say, more of a major frustration than anything useful.

    If you seriously want DIY Hobbyists to come back to your stores in droves, for goodness sake make your site a bit more useful!

    • Ricky Cadden


      Thanks so much for the helpful feedback. We’re definitely looking for ways to improve the Great Create website, and you’ve hit on a few upgrades that are already in the pipeline, but you’ve also given us some additional ones to consider. I’ve passed your comment along to the team internally, as well.