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Author Topic: How to add sound to a sonic screwdriver?  (Read 2263 times)
Julian
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« on: April 04, 2014, 04:53:18 pm »

I build steampunk inspired sonic screwdrivers out of brass and copper.  I ran across an unofficial update of the 8th doctor's and now I am building my own take on it.  For this screwdriver, I want to add the sound effects.  The problem is that I am not sure what to use for the sound.

The only solution I have thought of is to build a plastic one and take the sound out of it.  But, I really don't like the idea of having to spend so much just to take the sound out of it.  Any suggestions on how to add the sound effect?  The sound would be going into something that is around 1/2 an inch diameter on the inside. 
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Keith_Beef
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« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2014, 05:44:05 pm »

Just off the top of my head, I think you can probably get a chip that incorporates some non-volatile ram and an A to D and D to A converter with lines for a "learn a sample" and a "playback a sample" switches. I'm sure I've seen something similar wired up to a very flat speaker used in a greetings card. Sound reproduction was horrible, but possible better devices exist (and a better speaker would be an enormous improvement).

Analog Devices used to make quite a lot of different chips that I used in a former life for building effect pedals (bucket-brigade device delays, reverbs, filters, etc.), and I would not be surprised to find that Analog also has a chip like the one I described.

Well, after a quick look at Analog's site, it would take a while to find out if such a module is available…

On the other hand, I found a discussion at another site that mentions an interesting module.
« Last Edit: April 04, 2014, 05:51:38 pm by Keith_Beef » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2014, 09:43:59 pm »

Another option is to use a small MP3 player and build it into the screwdriver eg

 http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Mini-Clip-MP3-Player-USB-TF-Card-MP3-Player-Support-up-to-32GB-TF-Card-Red-LS4G-/121153249763?_trksid=p2054897.l5675

That one probably isn't the ideal shape but I daresay there are iPod shuffle clones to be found for next to nothing. Thsi also goves you the option to put different sound effects on different tracks.
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Keith_Beef
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« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2014, 11:07:33 am »

Another option is to use a small MP3 player and build it into the screwdriver eg

 http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Mini-Clip-MP3-Player-USB-TF-Card-MP3-Player-Support-up-to-32GB-TF-Card-Red-LS4G-/121153249763?_trksid=p2054897.l5675

That one probably isn't the ideal shape but I daresay there are iPod shuffle clones to be found for next to nothing. Thsi also goves you the option to put different sound effects on different tracks.


Great idea… I had completely forgotten about two very small Sansa players I have from years ago. They run on AA batteries and are almost the ideal size and shape for this sort of application.
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Julian
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« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2014, 09:53:16 pm »

Thanks for the suggestions.  I was actually thinking of using an old sansa MP3 player I have around.  It only charges by USB though so I didn't want to use it.  If I keep it for myself, then it could work.

I am starting to look at MP3 players first, and then go to chips next.  Although, I am not exactly sure how to wire it such that when I press a button on the outside to light things up, that the sound is played.  My initial idea would be that the sound is always playing, but pressing the button complete the circuit to the speaker.  I am sure there is a better way. 
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Keith_Beef
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« Reply #5 on: April 05, 2014, 10:57:50 pm »

Thanks for the suggestions.  I was actually thinking of using an old sansa MP3 player I have around.  It only charges by USB though so I didn't want to use it.  If I keep it for myself, then it could work.

I am starting to look at MP3 players first, and then go to chips next.  Although, I am not exactly sure how to wire it such that when I press a button on the outside to light things up, that the sound is played.

You'd have to find a way to set up the player so that you just need to press the play button. Maybe work up some kind of rod from the outer case of the "screwdriver" that then presses on the player's play button.

Synchronising a light effect to the sound is a bit more difficult, and I've been thinking about that today.

The easiest way I can think of, is to take two sets of wires from the earphone jack. One set to a speaker and the other set to another module that controls the light. Perhaps run that audio signal through a small amp and then to a bulb, or through a frequency to voltage or current converter then to an LED module that varies intensity or colour according to the input.
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von Corax
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« Reply #6 on: April 06, 2014, 05:03:32 am »

If it's not beyond your skills, or if you can dupe coerce convince someone more knowledgeable to help you, an Atmel ATTiny microcontroller (or something equivalent) would be able to control the MP3 player and the light, keep them synchronized, and perhaps even provide multiple modes of display. The ATTinys in particular are almost as cheap as the dirt they're made from. Smiley
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Julian
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« Reply #7 on: April 07, 2014, 05:53:27 am »

Thanks.  I ran across the Atmel chips yesterday.  I think they might work.  Not sure if I can get the correct sound out of them, but I should be able to get some sounds.  I can take that and then use an ear bud for a speaker.  I can do the programing part, I just need to make sure I can get it onto a chip and set up to be programed. 
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von Corax
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« Reply #8 on: April 07, 2014, 07:46:54 am »

You could use the AVR to generate the sound directly (there was an article in Make #35,) or, as I suggested, you could wire the AVR directly to the MP3 player's control terminals.
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Julian
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« Reply #9 on: April 07, 2014, 04:31:12 pm »

Thanks for the link.  I think that is what I am going to try and do first, and those instructions should help.
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