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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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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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.”
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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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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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.