TacitTheremin: A spatial awareness tool for the blind.

What’s this strange thing?  This is the TacitTheremin, a device which helps blind people understand their surroundings using ultrasonic sound ranging.  Designed to work in tandem with a cane, this device allows users to get a greater sense of what’s around them at ranges that exceed a cane and in any direction in which its pointed.

Inspired by the Tacit, an invention made by Grathio Labs, the TacitTheremin is a modification of that design concocted right here at the Omaha Maker Group.  It mounts to the wrist, receives distance measurements from an ultrasonic sensor, and outputs sound to the user through a speaker (low tones for far distances, high tones for short distances).  It ranges from 16 feet down to 3cm, 5 times per second.

See the original Tacit here.  The TacitTheremin is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA License.

This whole project started as an attempt to replicate a Tacit (because the idea is just so darn cool), and in the end it turned out to look quite different, with different coding as well.  You can read about the epic journey in detail, and make your own for a friend (on an individual project basis).

But enough technical stuff.  See it in action!

Currently, this prototype is being field tested by a local Omahan named Mike, who happens to be blind.  Stay tuned for a followup video.

You can reach me with any comments, questions, or concerns here.  Just be sure and put “TacitTheremin” in the subject.  Alternatively, feel free to comment below!





One Month to Make: Nerf Gun Distance and Style Mod Competition

Are you a Maker?

The Omaha Maker Group is hosting a Nerf* dart gun competition for distance and visual improvement modification.

When: 7pm, November 9th

Where: The Makery

Competitors will modify a Nerf ‘N-Strike Nite Finder EX-3‘ to maximize it’s distance and/or aesthetic value.  Steampunks, artists, we look to you for inspiration.

The entrance fee for the competition is $10, but anyone can come and watch for free.

The gun may be modified in any way, provided that it remains at least somewhat identifiable as an N-Strike, and does not use pre-compressed air (such as CO2 cartridges) or chemical power. Electric power is permitted, provided the voltages are within reason (meaning the gun won’t cause a power outage).

Ammo will be standard-unmodified Nerf darts. For the contest each contestant will provide with their entry a minimum of three such darts in good condition (a new N-Strike comes with 3 darts), which will be pooled and used for the competition.

The modified weapon in ‘primed to fire’ condition must fit within a 3x7x11 inch container.

Performance for the distance competition will be measured by a maximum range test. The gun may be held by the contestant or mounted in a vice, provided the muzzle does not extend beyond the firing line. Distance will be measured from the firing line.

The cosmetic “Fine Weapon” competition will be judged by majority vote of your fellow participants.  The winner will be judged to have a very fine weapon indeed.   The winner will also gain a 10% distance bonus in that competition.

The winner of the distance competition gets bragging rights and a 1 month free membership to the Omaha Maker Group.



*’Nerf’ is descriptive of the brand of equipment to be used, and does not imply any other association with the brand.