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NerdKits Newsletter Archives » NerdKits Newsletter #15 - Halloween Project, Avatars on the forum, and more!

October 27, 2010
by mrobbins
(NerdKits Staff)

mrobbins's Avatar

This newsletter was released on October 27, 2010.

Hi! This is the fifteenth edition of the NerdKits Newsletter which we publish ~monthly to keep you and the world up to date with everything going on at NerdKits.

  1. New Halloween Video Tutorial - Human Theremin
  2. Avatars now available on the forums
  3. Wire now available in our store
  4. Customer project highlights
  5. Video transcriptions and translations


A few weeks ago we released a video tutorial in time for Halloween: the Human Theremin. The device is meant to emulate a Theremin, a musical instrument that is played without actually touching the instrument. Instead, the performer waves his or her hands to control the pitch and amplitude of the note. Instead of using capacitance to sense the hand position like a normal Theremin does, we are using an IR LED/photodiode pair.

This video is a great introduction to phototransistors, triangle waves, fixed point math, and more, to help you learn and extend these techniques to your own projects.

Visit the tutorial website at:

to read more about this project.

You can also find last year's Halloween project at:

And be sure to post your own NerdKits-based Halloween creations on our forums!


Earlier this month we integrated user photo avatars into the NerdKits forums. We hope this will be a great way for you to add a touch of your own personality to the forums. To set your avatar and have a small picture of yourself appear next to your forum posts, go to your profile settings page from the members area of our site:

and follow the directions in the avatar section.


In order to facilitate customers building the Human Theremin Halloween costume mentioned above, we also put extra wire for sale separately on our store. This seems to have been well received with plenty of people opting to pick up some extra wire, so we have decided to leave this item up on store. If you enjoy the convenience of having extra multi-colored solid wire around, make sure you pick some up the next time you get parts from our store:


As with almost every newsletter, we like to highlight some particularly exciting customer projects that have come across either our e-mail or forums.

User hapshetsut used his NerdKit to put together a controller for a robotic arm he bought. I'm sure this is the beginning of a lot of mischief. He posted a video of his robotic arm in action in this forum post:

User ddoyle made an awesome star light sky panel for his son's nursery. He uses some LEDs, fiber optic cable, along with presentation board for backing to create a really great twinkling night sky. He provides some details and pictures in this forum post:

These two projects are by no means the only awesome projects that we have seen since our last newsletter. In fact, there are just way too many to keep track of (and remember) when it comes time to write the newsletter! If you make a neat project, make sure you tell us about it on the forums and shoot us an email to


Over the past few weeks, we've had all of our video tutorials transcribed, so when you check out any of our videos on YouTube:

you will now see an option (a small "CC" button) to have English captions shown on top of the video. We hope that this will make it easier to understand what we're saying, or to disambiguate technical terms in our presentations.

In addition to making our content accessible to people with hearing impairment, we've also realized that captions also make our content much more accessible to non-English speakers! By adding English captions, YouTube will also now show the captions translated into a different language (click "Translate Captions" under the CC menu). While the translations are done by computer and aren't perfect, especially considering that we spend a great deal of time making careful use of technical terms, they're much better than nothing for a foreign electronics hobbyist.

Are you a fluent speaker of another language interested in helping us get accurate translations to make these videos even more accessible for foreign students and hobbyists? Please get in touch with us about how you can help and we'll try a video or two. For our initial work, we are especially interested in finding customers who can help us with French, German, Portuguese, and Spanish, but if you want to help with another language, just let us know.


Thank you for taking the time to read this, and for being such great customers. Make sure you tell your friends and neighbors about NerdKits so we can keep the world's DIY spirit alive!

Best wishes,

Humberto & Mike
NerdKits, L.L.C.

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