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Tinkering Tuesday – Playmobil Stage – Introduction

All posts of the series (will be continued):

Tinkering Tuesday – Playmobil Stage – Einführung (German introduction)
Tinkering Tuesday – Playmobil Stage – Playmobil parts
Tinkering Tuesday – Playmobil Stage – LED Stage Lights
Tinkering Tuesday – Playmobil Stage – Disco Ball with stepper motor
Tinkering Tuesday – Playmobil Stage – LED Rings
Tinkering Tuesday – Playmobil Stage – Audio Output from microSD with Arduino
Tinkering Tuesday – Playmobil Stage – Audio Spectrum Analysis from WAV input with simple logic, FHT and MSGEQ7


 

As a wedding gift for a befriended couple, both are musicians, I build a stage for Playmobil figures. The result can be seen in the following pictures (a video is at the end of the article):

In a series of blog posts within the nest weeks I will describe in detail how I build it, what the difficulties were and everything I had in mind that would be also possible (but as a matter of time I wasn’t able to implement in the final product). Today will be about the basic idea and the implemented functions.

The idea

The inspiration came from a gift we got to our own wedding. In a small wooden frame there was a horse (my wife is a horse rider), bride and groom with a guitar on it. Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of the gift as a whole but I still have the figures:

2017-08-14 20.54.37

 

I thought that I could reuse the guitar and build a small stage with a couple on it. But then there questions came up: I would need new figures, a second guitar (or a bass guitar). And a stage with no light or music at all?

My first thoughts were about figures. I came up with Playmobil. I saw guitars there and after some internet research I found a big community about customizing Playmobil. And even stumbled upon several pictures on Pinterest about rebuilding Rock Bands (I Love Clicks, e.g. Bon Jovi in the following image):

Source: https://www.pinterest.de/pin/300756081338206340/

Some people also build small stages. But that was not what I had in mind. I wanted a festival stage, like Rock am Ring.

Source: https://www.pinterest.de/pin/300756081338196939/

Source: https://www.pinterest.de/pin/300756081338204651/

Playmobil also offers a pop stars stage, even with a builtin speaker and some lights:

Source: http://amzn.to/2wGOC1o

But that’s also not what I wanted and was too expensive.

But there were some cool things: The whole music equipment like the drums, guitars and microphones. The light spots. After another short research I came up with the spare part service from Playmobil (this is the german link but they also provide that in different countries): https://www.playmobil.de/content/spareparts_info/SPAREPARTS_INFO.html

Great! But you need the part numbers. I googled all the sets with music equipment and searched for the part numbers. You can use the manuals available with the set numbers on the Playmobil site and/or http://playmodb.org/. I will provide the details in the next blog post.

The plan

The basic functions I came up with were:

  • Play music
  • Light reacting to sound

And then it went all out of control… J But more on all the ideas in a future post.

As I already said the stage should be like a festival stage. That includes a certain size. The first draft was to use DIN A4 and/or DIN A3 sized sheet wood. But two of those were not quite the size. And I had to plan for some space for all of the electronics:

So it had to be bigger! The detailed measures and the plans for the wood will follow in a separate post.

I did some more research and because of my electronic knowledge is mainly based on the Arduino as a controller and I had some cheap ones lying around, I wanted to do everything on this basis. I found a library to play music from an (micro) SD card and I already played around with lighting in my HUEify project. Build some LEDs into the spot is not the most difficult thing.

The other features have evolved by internet surfing and eBay. The following is included into the final stage:

  • Play music from a microSD card
  • Buttons for Play/Next/Stop
  • Sound Sensor to analyze the ambient sound
  • Sensitivity-potentiometer for the Sound Sensor
  • Switch for swithing between internal and external audio
  • LED-spots (3 blue, 3 red and 3 yellow spots, each color can be controlled seperately, more or less, more on that later …)
  • LED-rings behind a milky acrylic glass as the background, LEDs controllable seperately
  • Turning disco ball (by a stepper motor) with seperate white spots

That’s it. Here is the backpanel:

From top to bottom:
Button: Audio Playback (short push=Play/Next, long pugh=Stop)
Switch: Input Switch (left=internal audio playback, right=external sound)
Potentiometer: Sensitivity for external sound (controls the threshold volume for activating the light)
Cable: Using a rubber from a beer bottle to hide the cable hole. Two cables, small black=audio player, grey=light control.

And now I will finish this post with a video (Music: Monkey Fly – Whatever  – www.monkeyfly.de):

In the next weeks I will continue with the detailed posts. I have already written some of the really technical posts, but I will try to have the general posts before the nitty gritty details.

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