This project started with my interest in instrument design. I have always loved electronic music, but I have also continually felt the need for more physicality in the performance experience. So many years ago, I just started designing instruments that would allow me to do that. This project features two identical versions of my most recent design – Rook (so named for its shapely resemblance of the chess piece).
The Inner Workings
These instruments feature three sections, which allow for a range of different physical interactions in addition to providing greater sonic potential. Two infrared sensors read the height of any object above them. A capacitive touch board features two touch strips, each of which counts the number of fingers being used and senses finger placement. And the last section uses a contact mic to provide more precise rhythmic content (which I particularly wanted for a percussion piece).
The MPR121 has support for only I2C, which can be implemented with nearly any microcontroller. You can select one of 4 addresses with the ADDR pin, for a total of 48 capacitive touch pads on one I2C 2-wire bus. Using this chip is a lot easier than doing the capacitive sensing with analog inputs: it handles all the filtering for you and can be configured for more/less sensitivity. (read more)
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Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.