Wednesday, August 31, 2011

AirHarp Shield Kit now available!

Full AirHarp Shield kits are now available in the Lyratron store!  Our payment processing system is configured to text me immediately when a purchase is made.  I'm tempted to add assembled AirHarps to the product line, but I'm gonna wait until the cases are ready.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Lyrasynth: a super-easy way to make MUSIC on an Arduino!

Hi All!

I just wanted to share something I slapped together fairly quickly that I think has a lot of potential if more time were taken to flesh it out and add more features. It's a simple Processing sketch that responds to serial MIDI "note on" messages, producing a sine wave of a frequency corresponding to the MIDI note triggered. It's about as simple as a program can be, but that's part of why I love it. Anyone who's hacked the ATmega8u2 knows what a pain it is to add class compliant USB MIDI functionality to your Arduino, and programs that respond to non-class compliant serial MIDI are few. This way, there's just 1 program in your signal path with no drivers or configuration to mess with. You just plug in your Arduino, and (hopefully) it just works!  :?)  So far, I've tested it with an AirHarp and an Apple MacBook Pro with no problems, but please let me know how it works with other OSes!

BTW, I'd recommend plugging in the Arduino ~before~ loading Lyrasynth, 'cause if it doesn't see the serial device when it boots, it will gag.

Anyway, just thought I'd share. Feel free to hack, mod, redistribute, etc.

Yours in tinkering,
~ Peter

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

AirHarp Shield launched (and Peter chats with Ladyada)!!

It's been a busy few weeks here at Lyratron!  First, the new AirHarp Shield 1.2 circuit boards arrived from the factory and proved to be a huge success!!  We built a few AirHarps with them (now featuring class compliant USB MIDI thanks to an Arduino Uno hack pioneered by Morecat Lab), and it became apparent that THIS is finally the version of the AirHarp I've been waiting for - something the average person can use and enjoy.

Now I finally feel that this baby is ready to be released.  Of course, a case would be nice, but it works fine without one and hardcore nerds like me enjoy ogling the pretty electronic blood-and-guts anyway.  I'm envisioning something thin - something that adds very little bulk or weight while providing basic protection against things like mechanical and electrostatic shock, moisture, etc.  Perhaps something similar to those silicone iPhone skins.  The AirHarp will never be waterproof since the ultrasonic transducer must remain open to the air in order to operate.  Like any musical instrument, a modicum of care and respect will have to be afforded by the owner to ensure a long useful life.

Much to my surprise, Adafruit Industries (Limor Fried a.k.a. Ladyada, and Phillip Torrone of Make Magazine / Popular Science) graciously volunteered their time and expertise to help me get the AirHarp to production and even invited me to be a guest on their web show Ask an Engineer!  Being a bit shy of the limelight, I had my reservations but there's just no declining an opportunity like this.

Adafruit Industries has done a lot to make technology accessible to hobbyists and encourage people to participate in the open sharing of knowledge and ideas.  Limor's work with open source electronics was part of what inspired me to make the AirHarp open source.  She convinced me to make an Instructable on how to build an AirHarp, which I promptly did, and to offer bare PCB's (printed circuit boards) right away rather than waiting until complete kits or assembled instruments can be offered.  This had the effect of making our online store operational a lot sooner than expected.

Well I created this "new" company Lyratron as a continuation of the work I was doing under the name Light Harp Industries.  I felt that a new name was called for that would be suggestive of my design philosophy; not merely descriptive of whatever project I happen to be working on at the moment.  I've come to the realization that I was born to be an engineer.  I intend to pour my heart and soul into this work over the next few decades, to create a line of products that are the embodiment of elegance.  I hope this new name is a sufficiently unique banner under which to carry out my life's work.