heart kalimba


I’m on a bit of a trend. This was built as a belated Valentines day gift so it was made from a heart shaped candy box. The main set of tines use a busbar, just like the kalimba’s on the kalimbazooka.


The pine sounding board and metal resonator gives it a pretty good sound. It is tuned to two octaves of a pentatonic C major scale.


Kalimbateeny A tiny Kalimba, also known as a thumb piano, designed to be worn as a piece of jewelery. The Kalimbateeny is a fully functional musical instrument, tuned to a D major pentatonic scale (D, E, F#, A, B). It’s made from purpleheart wood, and uses bobby pins for tines.




my build notes:

– laser cut purpleheart box
  – purple heart sourced at Woodcraft, ~1/8″ thick plank

  – cut in four pieces

  1.     top piece
  •         – sound hole
  •         – holes for retaining bar screws to go though
  1.     middle pieces
  •         – most of interior volume removed
  •         – slightly larger holes cut for end of screw and nut to fit
  •             – should probably be even larger for washer/lock washers to fit
  1.     bottom pieces
  •         – no holes, etc
  •         – (should have made holes through the bottom, would make assembly/disassembly easier)

– retaining bar is 1/4 inch steel rod
    – sourced at hardware store
    – two holes drilled through for retaining bar screws

      – best done on a mill/drill press but I did it with a cordless drill
    – cut to ~1.5 inches

– sound bars are 3/16 inch steel rod
    – sourced at hardware store
    – cut to ~1.25 inches
    – in theory this can be free floating on the surface, but I found

    assembly much easier after I glued them to the surface
        – gorilla glue, clamped with the retaining bar, screws, and two extra tines

    – used bobby pins
        – sourced from the pile of bobby pins in the bathroom

        – cut apart with dremel
        – used the straight part, with the rubberized coating at the end
    – (tried using tines cut from a sewer snake approx 1/8 inch wide, but these
    tines seemed to be too stiff for the small size of the box)

– fasteners

    – 3mm phillips pan screws
    – 3mm hex nuts
        – (washers and lock washers recommended if space allows)

– wood finish
    – walnut oil
        – (something a little clearer would have probably been better, to lessen discoloration of the purpleheart)

– hanging
    – slot cut though 3rd layer of wood before box assembly
        – large enough to fit some silver craft wire though to make
         wire wrapped loops on each end
    – cording created from hand-dyed silk ribbon and attached to wire-wrapped loops with overhand knots

    – overhand knots covered with cones
    – ends finished with ribbon ends

flushio=0 show review

Played last night as flushio=0 (“flush I/O equals zero”, long story…) at Nightlight as part of the 919noise showcase.

Kalimbazooka in action

I spent my free time last week building the instrument I played. I call it the Kalimbazooka. It is two kalimbas mounted to a large cardboard tube. It has a pizeo contact pickup for amplification. I added a shoulder mount for holding it, and some red LEDs because everything needs red LEDs.

The music at 919noise shows tend to be all over the map, but it’s weird, often improvised, usually electronic in nature, and weird. The Kalimbazooka and my playing of it meets all of the above requirements.

I have to admit, I spent 95% of my time building and testing it, and not that much time learning how to play it. But it went okay anyway. No one threw anything at me (though that may have been due to me holding a large weapon looking device).

I played a short set, only about 12 minutes or so of actual playing. I try to play short sets at this noise shows, typically aiming for about 20-25 minutes. It felt like I played about three times as long, but I don’t have the best perception of time when I’m nervous.


I was worried about having equipment issues, but the kalimbazooka worked great. I did manage to break on of my favourite pieces of gear (a Digitech Space Station), but I can fix it. That threw me off a little bit, since I had practised with it and was planning on using it heavily.

Crowd response seemed good, so I’m happy. I have video of it, so it may go up on youtube at some point.

Now I need to figure out what the next thing I want to build is. I have ideas. Lots of ideas ;->

business card caliper v2

New revision of the card. No big differences except for the slide now includes useful info printed on it, and the instructions go onto the part of the card that doesn’t get used.

Paper with a pattern on top, and white on the back seems to work best for engraving. This was cut on the Epilog laser cutter.
Lots of adjustments trying to get things to fold up nicely with the different papers.

Business card caliper

This is a project I’ve been experimenting with at Techshop Durham. It is a laser cut business card that folds up to create a working caliper. I’ll probably make some for myself, Rod-o-Rama, and lintqueen.

The card in “ready to hand out” mode

Card assembled, ready to use. These particular examples were actually cut out of paint chip cards (lintqueen’s idea).

After snapping out parts.

Folding over the slide

Next step in assembly.

Assembly completed.

In action, measuring an 8mm hex key. Accuracy and precision are not too bad for something folded out of paper.

It’s cut and engraved with the epilog laser cutter at Techshop Durham. Initial design scratched out on paper, transferred to Inkscape, final tweaking in Corel Draw (actualy, lots of tweaking, since it did a horrible job importing the svg).

It still needs some refinements, like better instructions and possibly an illustration or two. I have some minor aesthetic tweaks in mind as well, but this version is mostly complete.

The corel draw source file is here. That file could use some cleanup, and I’d like to get it back into a open format like svg, but that will do for now. Consider it under Creative Commons.

Creative Commons License
Business Card Caliper by Adrian Likins is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at www.adrianlikins.com.

N sources of nerd guilt

Things that cause tech guilt.

– I should backup more often.
– I should use any/stronger crypto on everything.
– I should really change my password
– I should blog/twitter/facebook/otherwise broadcast desperate attempts to get people to pay attention to me more
– I should blog/etc less
– I should update this system
– I should really automate this task
– I should write this code using WhizBangTech instead of the way that works and I actually know.
– I should optimize this code
– I should document this.
– I should file a bug report about this.
– I really should refactor this code.

laser cutter cutting

Fiddling around with the laser cutter at Techshop. I used inkscape to vectorize some doodles, then cut then out of paper using the Epilog laser cutter at Techshop.

Paper cuts very well, with pretty good detail (see the hatching cut out from the doodle in the front for example). I’ve tried cutting acrylic as well, and it cuts well too, but in some of the detail areas, it unmelts into a bit of a blob that makes detailed parts harder to extract. Need to try it again with more power to see if it will cut a wider kerf.

I also tried engraving/rasterizing an image. I think it turned out pretty well, almost exactly what I was looking for. It did burn through a little bit in one section, but I could fix that in the image. The image itself started off kind of “pointilist”, which I vectorized with some of the settings tweaked a bit so it would blurb some of the points together so it would hold together. Then I “engraved” it instead of cutting it out, but with the power set high enough to burn through the paper.