This week’s Made in Japan:
Mobile Camera Strap Lenses, Fukuda-Inspired ASCII Art, Recotana’s USB MIDI Controller, The “Full Color” Print Gocco, 8-Line LED Kanji News Reader, Music With Crispbread and Credit Cards, Papercraft Made Easy with Fibercraft Paper, Controlling a Nokia 5110 LCD w/ the MAKE Controller, and a Falling Dot Clock w/ the Tera Clock Library.

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Mobile Camera Strap Lenses
The StrapyaNext cell phone strap megastore presents this wide collection of stick-on cell phone camera lenses. In addition to your average macro lens, they make one that lets you see everything from a fly’s eye, one that lets you see everything in threes, one that lets you see everything all stretched out, and one that “makes you look like a superstar.” You can even stack two lenses on top of each other for extreme weirdness. Each lens comes in self-contained case that is designed to be strung up on your cell phone strap (what might very well be a necessity for the average Japanese cell phone user: When I recently showed my iPhone to a Japanese colleague, instead of marveling at its technological fanciness, all she could ask was “Wait, where’s the little handle that you attach the strap to?”) The lenses are held on to your phone by a magical rubbery adhesive that can be revived if its stickiness gets weak by rubbing a wet tissue on it. Each one is only 880 yen (~$9) each, and they make 14 different kinds! via – Gizmodo Japan

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Fukuda-Inspired ASCII Art – “Different From You
Leave it to a national news event in Japan to inspire some wicked ASCII art (actually, it’s Shift JIS art, if you really want to be specific). The popular 2channel message board has been abuzz over the recent resignation of Japanese prime minister Yasuo Fukuda, and his off-the-cuff remark Anata to wa chigau n desu (“I am different from you”) has become the subject of some great ASCII art. Although 2channel’s text-only minimalism has long been the breeding ground for some of Japan’s best ASCII art, it is really interesting to see this medium being used for such timely commentary.

In the few short days since Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda uttered these words to a pesky reporter after his shock resignation, Japan has witnessed the birth of a new buzz phrase online.

Fukuda’s jarringly out-of-character words came as an awkward exclamation point to his resignation and threw some people for an extra loop. The phrase has been percolating for days on 2-channel, where dozens of popular threads with the words “anata to wa chigau n desu” (あなたとは違うんです) in the title have been posted, many containing Fukuda-inspired ASCII art.

via Pink Tentacle

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Recotana’s USB MIDI Controller
Based on the ATMega16-endowed AVR MIDI circuit, this is a nice, minimal version of this handy design. It just goes to show what a few colorful knobs, some buttons, and a clear acrylic case can do for a project. As Recotana notes, it’s nice that there’s no external power needed for the AVR MIDI, just plug in the USB cable and start rocking.

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The “Full Color” Print Gocco
Although the Print Gocco went out of production at the end of June, it’s great to see that people are still pushing the medium to its limits. Here we have a DPZ’er trying to print out a mid-year nengajo in “full color.” By printing out patterns that are separated out into red, yellow, and blue, a primitive color halftone is achieved (at least, when viewed from far enough away, perhaps with some squinting), something that lies adorably between an early inkjet printer and a slightly off-register color newspaper.

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8-Line Kanji News Reader
Here is a great hack of an 8-line LED matrix to make a kanji-empowered scrolling news reader. It’s no small feat to get kanji running via UART, so this news reader is a triumph in several regards. As you can see, 8 lines (by way of three 8×8 LED matrices) makes for some chunky-looking kanji, but that’s part of the charm!



Music With Crispbread and Credit Cards

Using the Swedish Knäckebröd, Japanese artist Yoshi Akai made this wonderfully twisted sound machine. When he first saw a piece of knäckebröd, he thought it looked like an LP, and sure enough, it was about the same size as one too. The hacker light went off, and he hooked it up to a turntable to make some noise with it. When the sound “wasn’t funny enough” he added sound effects, a magnetic credit card scratcher, etc. He prefers to make his instruments look good as well, citing inspiration from electric guitars, and has endowed his gizmos with polished exteriors. Towards the end of the clip you’ll see that he is cleverly tight-lippped about the tech behind his noise-making gloves, and becuase he got the idea at a magic show, he also decided that revealing the secrets of these gloves might kill the magic. No open-sourced magic? I suppose even David Blaine is notoriously closed-source as well. – via BB

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Papercraft Made Easy with Fibercraft Paper
As seen at the Good Design Expo 2008 by MAKE: Japan: Although these papercraft insect might look difficult to make, they are actually pretty easy to construct. CraftClub introduces its “fibercraft” paper that becomes soft when it gets wet, and that then hardens to its original form when the paper dries. These kits come pre-cut, so all you have to do is get the paper wet, bend to your liking, and wait for your creation to dry. Their product line is currently limited to bugs, so here’s to seeing other creatures in the future as well.


Controlling a Nokia 5110 LCD w/ the MAKE Controller
Ahhh, I remember owning a good old Nokia 5110 cell phone. I played many a game of Snake II when I should have been working at my first job out of college. Truth is, I still have the old phone sitting around, and although I tore out the vibrating motor a long time ago for another project, I had always hoped that I would do something cool with the LCD screen, so seeing this made me pretty happy. It turns out that the Nokia 5110 LCD has gained a certain amount of fame among DIYers for its hackability. Like the 8-line kanji news reader above, it’s really awesome to see people getting kanji to display on these tiny devices, as it’s not nearly as easy as good ol’ English text. It’s interfaced via SPI using a PCD8544. Now if only they could get it to do Snake II…

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Falling Dot Clock w/ the Tera Clock Library
I love watching stuff fall, and I love wasting time, so this one has both of those things covered pretty well. Ra66it.net created this fun-to-watch clock using the Tera Clock Library and the Box2DFlashAS3 physics engine in Flash. It seems like a lot of the fancier websites out there have a nifty Flash-based clock on them, so using Ra66it’s code (linked at the website above) and the Tera Clock library should help anyone else out there who wants to tell time with style.