Make it! Better



Design your own printable headphones. You can download the editable CAD files here and go to town on them. All the 13:30 pieces; the speaker drivers and RCA jacks are also included in the CAD so you can start from scratch if you wish. Make them better, make them awesome, make them yours! We’d love to see what you come up with! Send us your screenshots, or renderings of your version of 13:30!

Send your designs to John Mabry.
(5MB limit)

October 9th, 2012

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Prototype as Product: 13:30 Printable Headphones

With 3D printers becoming more accessible we decided to have a think around the concept “life in beta” as a future scenario. What if printed prototypes could become actual products? Meaning, once off the print bed an object could be assembled without any tools and be made functional by readily attainable components. I decided to stress test the premise with the challenge of making electronically simple yet functionally complex headphones.

My first go resulted in a good-looking functional model created on a professional ABS FDM machine (Dimension 1200ES: print time 13 hours and 30 minutes, hence the name). It worked out well, but the machine we used isn’t accessible to the average maker, and two of the critical parts relied heavily on soluble support printing—a non-issue for professional 3D printers, a major issue for desktop 3D printers.

With that in mind, I started to adapt the 13:30 design to the Maker Bot Replicator last week. The main challenge: How to build to a similar level of quality without soluble support. With a bit of experimentation, I’m pretty sure it can be done. So, look for some updates on that very soon! In the meantime, I posted the current model(s), component list, and instructions on Thingiverse for you to make your own working headphones right now.

October 1st, 2012

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Doug Engelbart’s Chorded Keyboard as a Multi-touch Interface

Doug Engelbart’s contributions to computing and human-computer interaction have been phenomenal. In what’s been named “the mother of all demos,” Doug and his team introduced the world to the mouse, video conferencing, hypertext, multi-pointer collaborative interfaces, and dynamic file linking (all in 1968!). If you’ve never watched the videos of the demo, definitely check them all out.

However, what’s often left out was an equally-important input device opposite the mouse, the chorded keyboard. Using this input, the user could type and issue key commands using only one hand. This left the other hand free to navigate with the mouse. Unfortunately, since there’s a pretty steep learning curve to using a chorded keyboard, it never really caught on.

HOW IT WORKS

A chorded keyboard works by using combinations of finger presses to signal a keypress (for example, pressing both the first and second finger down simultaneously might send an “A”, while pressing the first and third finger down might send a “B”). With 5 fingers, there are 32 possible binary combinations. Leaving out the rest state (all off), and a drag state (all on), we have 30 useful mappings. With 26 letters, that even leaves a few for high level text commands (such as space, delete, and enter).

Engelbart Chorded Keyboard touch screen interface by Teague Labs

As designers, we all know that on-screen soft keyboards are cumbersome and rather slow to use due to their lack of physical texture and haptic feedback. And with the continual rise of touch screens on phones, tablets, and laptops, we got excited about giving the chorded keyboard another chance!

Here’s what makes this little keyboard so exciting:

  • One handed use.
  • Bring it up anywhere by putting down all 5 fingers.
  • Large hit area per key (since there are only 5 keys to press) allows for blind/touch-typing operation.
  • Contextual feedback to make learning easier (possible letters are shown at each level).
  • Drag anywhere by pressing all 5 fingers down and moving your hand.
  • Cancel a mid-phase chorded keypress by pressing all 5 fingers.
  • Issuing keypress on touch-up allows users to type at any speed.

TRY IT OUT YOURSELF

Ok, enough build-up. :) If you have a tablet (android or iPad) handy,
give the chorded keyboard a try here!

Of course, this project is completely open source for you to play with and build upon. View the html and javascript source code directly in the demo to see how it works and incorporate it into your own projects.

February 8th, 2012

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Muze Radio: a virtual musician in your browser!

A few months ago, we created Muze, a musical instrument that plays with you. Unlike most digital music creations tools, Muze doesn’t allow the listener to directly play notes or control the composition. Instead, Muze behaves more like an improv musician that’s constantly playing and taking cues from the listener to nudge it in new directions. Leave Muze alone, and it will slowly evolve itself over time; generating new melodies, rhythms, and progressions.

We loved playing with the physical Arduino-based Muze, but there was one big problem — we couldn’t easily share the one-off prototype with the world. So we went back to the drawing board and cooked up a new version that takes the best of the physical, and adds to it browser application support, a visual interface, and a bunch of new features. It’s Muze Radio!

Have a play with Muze Radio. Twiddle, tweak, and nudge; if you like what you hear, take a snapshot and grab the Midi file to import into your favorite music software to continue the fun.

Tune in to Muze Radio

Of course a curious thing happened on they way to virtualization; the radio version has become a great debugging tool for the hardware version and has really informed the underlying approach to the generative aspects of Muze.

Everything is open source, so if you’d like to look behind the scenes also check out the Muze Radio Processing project. Enjoy!

January 20th, 2012

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Teagueduino to the Makers!

After a successfully backed Kickstarter project and four months of assembling thousands of little bits and pieces, it’s official — Teagueduino is finally out in the wild!

But the most exciting part is seeing the Teagueduino community come to life, with over 100 active users in the past 10 days downloading, filming, and sharing their projects for all to enjoy. This is what Teagueduino is really about; people making awesome projects, sharing them with others, and learning along the way.

If you’ve never heard of Teagueduino before, don’t fret. Here’s a quick overview to help you get caught up.

Teagueduino is an open source hardware platform that makes building interactive things super easy. There’s realtime feedback to help you debug and learn, always-valid code creation to reduce frustration, and no soldering required to enable fast experimentation. And when you’ve mastered the basics, Teagueduino is designed to grow with you, transitioning to Arduino and beyond as you progress.

Here’s a quick video showing how to build a simple police car using the Teagueduino and a little bit of craft.

Still not quite sure how it all works? Here’s an in-depth walkthrough of the Teagueduino editor that provides a more informative step-by-step guide for how the board is programmed.

And of course, there’s lots of additional information to check out in the Teagueduino Reference for those curious about how all of the inputs and outputs work, as well as the download page for links to all of the Teagueduino source code, schematics, and specifications.

Wish you could just click a button and buy your very own Teagueduino? We do, too! We’re still looking for open source hardware partners, but keep an eye on the buy page for the latest news on how that unfolds.

Thanks to everyone who has supported the project so far. We’ll keep working hard to make Teagueduino better and better. In the meantime, if you have thoughts drop us a line on the discussions page.

It’s great to watch this new community of makers come together and create awesome things. We can’t wait to see what you’ll make next!

January 3rd, 2012

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‘Duke’ capped up

An important part of the ‘Duke Reboot’ project is deciding what to do with the open spaces left in the Duke controller. Specifically the hole left by the removal of the  logo badge and the open front section left by the removal of the Duke’s card slots. To this end, I have created and printed some quick caps using our Dimension machine.

Closing up the body really cleans up the Duke and makes it much easier to picture and plan where we may want to place the remaining connectors and additional controls. Deciding what to do about the ‘Guide’ button was probably one of the easier decisions yet to make on this project. Placing it in the center of the original logo ring just seemed to make sense. Not only does it gives the controller aesthetic ties to current hardware, but it also means we can reuse the 360 controllers 4 LED array light pipe and the very nice metal finished 360 ‘guide’ button. We may wish to explore some other options here later on, but in the meantime though these caps will be a good starting point to get the imagination rolling.

I am also posting the CAD IGES versions of these files for anyone else to use.
Duke Template Caps

November 15th, 2011

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‘We Have Liftoff!’

This is the first full button function test for the ‘Duke Reboot’ controller conversion while its connected to an Xbox 360 console. As you can see in the video the result was a success. By the way, those switches you see temporarily taped to the ‘Duke’ housing  are the ‘360 Guide’  and ‘Wireless Bind’ buttons which we will be finding a home for later on in the build.

For now, passing this function test was the first big goal of the build and I’m quite happy about it. Our next step is to finalize our special ‘Duke’ enhancements and install them into the controller.

November 15th, 2011

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‘Duke’ …back together again!

We start off this post with the solution to our button feel issue from the our previous build. And here it is, we used the original ‘Duke’ board. Pretty obvious, eh? At least, it seems so now. Reusing the original PCB is a great choice; not only does it have the absolute correct locations for the buttons and joysticks, it also has the carbon traces that will let us use the original silicone button pads. This will give us the authentic button feel from the original ‘Duke’ we are looking for.

But our previous efforts were not completely wasted. There were some advantages to creating our own board. We now have some valuable build thickness data that lets us reshape the ‘Duke‘ internals (including the trigger mechs), and we also have a great template to trim the ’Duke’ board by.

After desoldering all the large components, and scraping all the small bits from the ‘Duke’ PCB were left with a perfectly flat board we could cut into shape using the previous template. During this process we noticed a lot of the ‘Duke’ components and buttons used a common ground trace and found the same to be true of the 360 controller. Not knowing how similar or different this common ground usage was could possibly lead to accidental cross-wiring or unintentional activations. To remedy this I quarantined the traces on the ‘Duke’ PCB by cutting through the copper on both sides around the button cluster zones. This step was probably not necessary, but I figured it would be better to eliminate these possible issues now rather than risk errors after everything gets soldered up and put together.

The next step was to sand the enamel off the surface traces in the appropriate spots around the buttons so we could solder on the bridge wires. And then the most grueling process yet; cutting, stripping, and soldering the 48+ wires that will bridge the relocated buttons and joysticks of the ‘Duke’ PCB to the 360 PCB. This was pretty straight forward but also quite time consuming, and with that done a significant step in this project is complete.

I think it’s time to mention an oddity of the ‘Duke’ PCB that, until this new direction in the build, wasn’t anything more than a curiosity. The peculiarity I am referring to is the strange sticker that covers the carbon traces of the ‘X,Y,A,B’ and ‘Black, White’ button cluster.

Typically in silicone button design, a small patch of carbon is baked into the silicone mat that contacts and connects the carbon traces that are on the PCB. And indeed the ‘Duke’ PCB employs this setup for all of the buttons except for this cluster. My best guess is that somehow this specialized mat could be an analog button design mechanism. Now, I can’t recall from my original Xbox days if there was ever any game that had analog button controls, but I do remember pre Xbox release rumors stating that the controllers would have analog buttons. I have no idea what its function really was, but I do know that the patch complicates our new button setup. Because we have to solder to the top side of the board exactly where this sticker will sit, this once-flat material will now be distorted as it rises and falls over the solder bumps. And who knows how that affect its performance; for now we are going to run it as is and see what that gets us. If anyone knows what the deal is with this patch we would love to know.

Once the wire bridge was completed and all wires were soldered and secured with hot melt glue the controller went back together pretty easily. There is still a little bit of binding on the triggers for now but everything else feels just right. Using a temporary battery pack I did a quick test to see if at least the guide button works and — eureka! — it turned on.

Exciting stuff! Next up, we’ll see if it can connect to a 360 and test all of the buttons. Stay Tuned!

November 10th, 2011

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‘Duke’ setback… failure as progress

Since last time, we’ve created custom button boards and we have also created a support plate to hold and orient those boards along with the analog joysticks for the ‘Duke’. This gave us a rough component stack we used to determine where we needed to roughly trim the ‘Duke’ internals to allow for a good fitting. As fate would have it, we were well on our way to the wiring/bridging process when we made an unfortunate discovery.

After getting the controller together and playing around with it for a bit we found that the switches we are using were producing an audible and tactile click. Even when they were cushioned by the original silicone mats the click was strong and loud. But moments like theses give us a chance to reflect on a project’s priorities; in this case the most important thing in this project is to end up with an enhanced ‘Duke’. If the button ‘feel’ isn’t right, then our intent fails before it can even get out of the gate. Still, given the amount of time and effort it took to get to this point just to realize this solution has to be scrapped, was well, pretty disappointing. So I begrudgingly disassembled the controller and started from scratch seeking a new button solution that would more closely mimic the feel of the original.

This is why we make things. It can be easy to ideate and plan around solutions to a problem, but until we make something, we can’t know for sure what will work. In this case, discovering something didn’t work was as valuable as finding success. Going back to the drawing board was just the reset we needed to see the problem with news eyes. As it turns out, the solution we came up with was so simple, and so embarrassingly right in front of us, that it made me feel pretty dumb not to have thought of it in the first place. But this is the unpredictable nature of making things. I also believe failure to be an important type of progress during this process. It is never wanted, and it is never fun, but it can be learned from. And I think as long as we can manage that, we are still making progress.

Here’s the 3D data we created for the support frame (printed on our in-house ‘Dimension’ machine). While we are not using it anymore, I thought it would be a good thing to share. Who knows, it might be useful later on.
Xbox 360 Duke Conversion Frame 1

For the next post we plan to get the ‘Duke’ wired up, assembled, and hopefully if all goes well, connected to a 360!

November 9th, 2011

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Getting to know the ‘Duke’

A huge part of the ‘Duke Reboot’ project will be getting the old original controller to work with the new 360 consol. On the surface, this seems like a pretty straight forward procedure involving removing the guts of a new Xbox 360 wireless controller and stuffing them into the old ‘Duke’ shell. With the exception of two buttons, the 360 ‘Guide’ button and the wireless ‘bind’ button, the 360 controller maps pretty much one to one to the ‘Duke’. And we know this mod is doable as it has been done before, most notably by the game modding guru Benjamin Heckendorn. Our build will for the most part follow suit but it will differ a bit from a straight forward conversion in some key ways.

Our yet unnamed enhanced version will add controller boards and a power supply that will require their own space in addition to the conversion core. In addition to the space these extra parts require, it will be very important to have everything still come apart with a screwdriver when we are done. This will allow for component tweaking needed later on in the build, and it means that we will intentionally be avoiding gluing components in place.

So, the first step of this first part is to crack open the ‘Duke’ and a current 360 wireless controller to see just what’s involved in transplanting the new 360 guts into the old ‘Duke’ body. The ‘Duke’ opens up pretty easily using a standard medium phillips screwdriver. The 360 wireless controller however, requires a special T9 security torx driver, available at most any specialty tool/hardware stores, and one of the screws is hidden under the barcode label in the battery bay. But once you have the right tools and know about the secret screw, the 360 controller comes aprt just as easily. Also for both controllers it’s important to open them face down. Otherwise all the buttons, contact pads, and all of the other loose parts will fall out and you will end up with a mess (not to mention a bit of mystery as to where everything was supposed to go).

Once we got the ‘Duke’ and the 360 controller open and had the boards pulled out it was apparent that there would be ample room around the perimeter of the transplanted 360 PCB, but as far as available depth is concerned there were some worries. The reason depth is important is that the final construction will require that the 360 board be sandwiched together with other components that relocate the 360 buttons. this core stack could easily triple the original PCB thickness allocated for the ‘Duke’ board. It will certainly be necessary to shave off a bit of length from internal support bosses, but it may also be necessary to alter the ‘Duke’s trigger mechanisms. These triggers were originally mounted directly to the ‘Duke’ PCB so any increase in depth will push them further down into the body and cause possible binding issues.

The next step will be initial fitting. This will require removal of the potentiometers that secure the triggers to the ‘Duke’ PCB as well as strip the mechanical hardware from the 360 PCB that will be relocated to the ‘Duke’. We will also be fabricating new button boards and some kind of mounting support structure that the 360 controls can be attached to in the correct ‘Duke’ positions. This processs will also give us our new core PCB thickness that we can use to let us know where interference will occur.

With that, it’s time to stop writing and start building!

November 5th, 2011

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