2015-10-22 (Sa) Third Annual IoTHackDay EMG Musical Instrument Controller

For three years running, I've participated in the IoTHackDay held in Minneapolis. This year, I had more fun than ever. The team was all people I knew, including the organizer and captain, Doug. For all three years he has been the inspiration behind the projects we've tackled.
Year one, two years ago.
Year two, one year ago.

I gave the final presentation for our group and I got to talk about how the day went for us.

Me, giving the final presentation for our group

The hackers in full swing

 We started the day with the intention of reading a muscle's activity through electromyoencepholagraphy (EMG) and using that signal to change the slider position on a slide whistle. A pretty simple premise and not actually IoT related. We hit every bump in the road while having a fun time. In the morning we discovered we didn't have all the parts we would need so I went to a nearby surplus story to pick up scraps. Three of our teammates brought parts and we still didn't have everything we needed.

This is how much stuff I brought

Our whistle was selected and 3D printed on the day of the project. We thought the use of 3D printing would make our project more appealing. Unfortunately whistles are more complex than I was lead to believe. A slide whistle is a surprisingly finicky instrument. My task for the day was getting the whistle functioning. I started by buying a cooling fan from the surplus store, taking measurements and creating a model in OpenSCAD which would allow the whistle to receive air from the fan. Two things went wrong with this endeavor. The whistle wouldn't make sound with the included plunger and the fan did not push enough air anyway. Despite the failure, it was an excellent lesson in guerilla modeling.

Rotating model of fan to whistle adapter. It looked like a traffic cone with a USB port on top

Printed version of the model with the whistle inserted

While the model connected properly, it didn't create sound so it was ultimately useless for the hack day. Nonetheless, I'm proud of the model and perhaps I'll try a larger fan with a commercially available slide whistle. Now that I know in ins and outs of a slide whistle perhaps I'll automate one.

The team members working on the EMG portion of the project didn't have much luck either. There were issues with the sensors and getting reliable data. At one point, Doug had duct taped the sensor to his forearm with the hope of getting good readings but he mostly managed to tear out hair from his arm.

The rest of the team at work

Fortunately, our teammate Angeliki, had experience with electroencephalography (EEG) and was able to cobble together a hacked MindFlex toy headset and some servos which struck a toy glockenspiel. In other words, she completed last years project by herself, with only half of the day to work.

My mind is already buzzing with ideas for next year's project.

The rest of the posts for this project have been arranged by date.

First time here?

Completed projects from year 1.

Completed projects from year 2.

Completed projects from year 3.

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2016-10-23 (Sa)