Introducing the ir2midi box

Another part of my forthcoming interactive tv installation is the hardware infrared to midi box I built for interfacing old tv remotes with max and jitter. This was a pretty simple project based around the now ubiquitous Arduino microcontroller and a rather handy i.r. receiver chip I picked up for next to nothing from Sparkfun.

The IR remote control to midi tool box.

The IR remote control to midi tool box.

The box plugs in to my computer using USB and a max patch takes care of churning out the midi to whatever application I fancy. As well as using it for my installation I use it for controlling Ableton while standing a.f.k practicing bass. I included a hardware reset switch on the top which I hardly ever use since the latest Arduino’s support software reset when loading firmware and seem much happier with Max’s port object.

I stuck on two LEDs to give some user feedback, green for power and red for code received. I initially tried to write my own firmware for decoding the signals but after googling around a bit I came across this guy’s code which worked much better than my own attempts and saved me about three weeks work. Basically the box just chucks out a unique hex code for any button on any remote that’s sufficiently close to the RC5 Philips standard which seems to be most of the ones in my house. Max takes care of assigning each code/button to a MIDI message, like note, program change or continous controller but I might in the future go back and shift this functionality from Max into the hardware. When I’m using it with Ableton I just route the midi back from Max to Live using midiYoke.

Under the hood of the ir2midi.

Under the hood of the ir2midi.

Looking inside you can see there’s not much going on here, just the Vishay TSOP85 receiver and the circuitry for the LEDs and reset switch (this is on the flip side of the vero board but it’s just some pull down resistors). The nice thing about the receiver was it came with the neccessary circuitry integrated so all I had to do was wire it up to the power and one of the digital inputs on the Arduino. I’ve recently become obsessed with socketing things so I can pull them out and swap/replace them as I see fit so I used a few of these yummy modular connectors from Maplin. That’s where I got hold of the frosted blue enclosure which lets through the i.r. signal unimpeded as well as looking quite shhhexy (as much as a blue see through box can).

Introducing the Vishay TSOP85

Introducing the Vishay TSOP85

That pretty much covers it. I’m pretty pleased with it as it is, the whole thing only cost about £30 and took not too long to build. In the future I’ll post up the Max patch, circuit diagram and a video showing it’s integration with Ableton. Changing scene with the channel change and controlling volume, stop, start, record, etc by remote is really quite handy for me as I play double bass and constantly putting it down just to stop/start is a pain in the arse.

Rutt-etra videosynth nearly ready

Since my last post I’ve been working on a few things, details of which I hope to post soon but I’ve spent most of my time working on my Rutt-etra inspired jitter/open-gl video synth. This along with a database youtube video harvester I wrote in Python will form a major part of my next piece I’m hoping to submit to the 2009 conference. I’m aware that it’s not entirely an original idea to build a software version of the famous 70s video synth and I have to admit to being inspired by vade’s work in the same area.

As well as the version of the software developed for my own use I’m working on stand alone and max patch versions for distribution to interested third parties. I’m pretty pleased with the vsynth, it basically displays an input video on to a set of parallel lines each of which can be deformed, point by point along the line, with the luminosity of the image controlling the height of each point. On top of this it does some pretty open-gl feedback and a nice feature I just added is to allow the mixing of the feedback with the source footage to give some pretty pyschedelic results.

Although it’s a bit of a cpu hog it runs fine on my old 1.8 GhZ single-core laptop as I went to great pains to move as much of the process on to the GPU as possible. I’m hoping to post a first general release of the patch by the end of next week so for now you’ll have to make do with some screenshots.

Original Dr Who title sequence Rutt stylee

Original Dr Who title sequence Rutt stylee

Rutt-etra psychedelic colour disco

Rutt-etra psychedelic colour disco

New year, new site, new blog

Having paid for the domain names for two years I figured it was finally time to start putting up content and make a site. As I don’t have much space on my current web laptop and I’m away from home a lot at the moment I chose to use some funky web based CMS software, give my blog over to wordpress and do everything else in mspaint. Hopefully as the new year progresses I’ll get into the swing of updating this blog with relevant entries from my studies and wider affairs.

Should anyone be interested in what I was involved with earlier in December click here or here for some earlier blog posts I wrote while at STEIM during their excellent second micro-jamboree.