Home Electromagnetic 22 | august | 2021

22 | august | 2021


The ESP32 has enabled countless small electronics projects and even some commercial products, thanks to its small size, low price, and wireless capabilities. Many remote sensors, lighting setups and even home automation projects are now running on this trusty little chip. But being relegated to an electronics box controlling a small electrical setup isn’t all these tiny chips can do as [Eirik Brandal] shows us with this unique piece of audio and visual art.

The project is essentially a small automated synthesizer that contains a series of programmed tables that correspond to various musical scales. Any of these can be selected for the instrument to be played. The notes of the scale are mixed with a few random variations, allowing for a completely automated musical instrument. Music generation is also entirely analog, created by certain oscillators, amplifiers, and other filters and effects. The ESP32 also controls a light sculpture that illuminates a series of LEDs while the music is playing.

The art installation itself creates some pretty haunting and spellbinding tunes which are illustrated in the linked video after the break. While it’s not quite the realm of artificial intelligence as it uses pre-programmed models with a bit of mixed luck, it does give us clues to other projects that have used AI to compose new music. .

continue reading “ESP32 is the brain behind this art installation”

There was an urban legend back in the days of mechanical electrical meters, that there were “lucky” devices that, when plugged in, caused the meter to roll back. It probably has its origin in the interaction between a strongly capacitive load and the inductance of the meter’s coils but remains largely apocryphal for the average home user. That’s not to say that a meter can’t be tricked into doing weird things, as a team from the University of Twente demonstrated by sending more modern meters into reverse. How did they accomplish this miracle? Electromagnetic interference from a dimmer.

Reading the document (PDF link), it becomes evident that this behavior is the result of the dimmer having the ability to shift the phase of the current pulse with respect to the voltage cycle. AC dimmers are old fashioned in 2021, but for those unfamiliar with how they work, they operate by turning on only for part of the mains cycle. The cycle time is changed by the dimming control. Thus, the time between the zero crossing point of the mains and their activation point is equivalent to a phase shift of the current waveform. Since electricity meters are highly dependent on this phase relationship, their performance can be adjusted. Perhaps European stores will now prepare to run with dimmers.

If you’re curious about these old-fashioned dimmers, take a look at some of their basic features.

Thank you [Dorus] for the tip.

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