Boombox Blaster

Fig 591a. NeoPangea

Format: Robotics Experiment c.2015

We’ve concocted our own mechanized apparatus that enables audial shuffling to satiate our ocular orifices. People-powered projectiles prove to provide proper phonic  pleasure!

NeoPangea’s lair is equipped with a dizzying assortment of streaming audio services supplying us with a deluge of tunes. Even with all this music, we still encounter the occasional distasteful earworm track. When Sonos, a high-end music streaming service, announced their API, we knew it was time to not only democratize the music selection, but perhaps to also make it a game. Our resident Royal Alchemist, Jason Morris, proposed a project that combined all of our music streaming services with our plethora of in-office Nerf armaments while embracing the world of practical computing again. We proved with the Intern Abuser (a real-world interactive online experience that allowed users from around the world to shoot Nerf Darts at one of our interns) that Nerf products make a great platform for robotic hijinks. This time, rather than letting people at home control one gun, we decided to let everyone in the office use their weapon of choice to shoot a single target. The darts would be the perfect implement to apply the right amount pressure needed to change a song on a custom made target. By tapping into the Sonos API, we were able to build our own application to control our audio system with a custom Node.js script. We chose Raspberry Pi, a teeny-tiny Linux computer, to serve the script that connects our new device to the Sonos API.

After testing numerous pressure settings, our next step was to create the target. Aesthetically, we knew the device had to have that special flair that we strive for in every project here at NeoPangea. Our team of artists and tinkerers felt that a painting in our office, a whimsical piece by surrealist Terry Fan, supplied the right inspiration. We turned our pressure-sensitive target into a tiny house that is carried into the clouds by a hot air balloon. Now, when those dreaded tunes pollute our atmosphere, NeoPangea’s residents can take aim to do something about it. After being hit by a Nerf projectile, the floating house lights up to acknowledge the successful hit. The balloon lights up with LED flames and is reeled into the clouds by a servo. This luminous aerial ballet is a physical representation for the signal traveling to the Sonos API on our Raspberry Pi that skips the player to the next song. The Boombox Blaster now resides in the very heart of the office and in the hearts of those dedicated, slightly mad team members who labored for countless hours to transform this music-fueled fever dream into a useful, blastable reality. As with any in-house project, our next step is in discovering how we can apply this new-found knowledge to our future endeavors. Want to know more? Check out our blog about how we created the Boombox Blaster.

Project Services

  • Conceptualization
  • R and D Prototyping
  • Development

Building the Boombox Blaster

Our team designed and built virtually every aspect of the project by hand over the course of several weeks. Unlike some other projects, no interns were abused at any point during the process.

  • Making It a Reality

    Making It a Reality

    With access to Sonos’ API, Jason starts practical computing with Raspberry Pi. 

  • The Road to Reality

    The Road to Reality

    Griffin, our resident Electrographic Synthesist, and Avery, Design Intern, craft a practical target with Neo-Pangea flair.

  • The Reality We Face Now

    The Reality We Face Now

    The cold truth revealed by the Boombox Blaster:  we need better aim.

  • Our Reality: Nothing is Impossible

    Our Reality: Nothing is Impossible

    Our physical target which changes our music is equal parts nerd and magic. 

Dueling for Control

Nothing democratizes and gamifies a musical atmosphere like a little foamy gunplay.

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