Tinderbox v1.01 (AD039)

2010
Brett Ian Balogh

The tinderbox is a flexible, programmable transmission arts platform that is meant to be a tool for the creative use of the electromagnetic spectrum. Rather than being a closed device like so many consumer electronics with no possibility of hardware/software customization, the design is open, inviting the user to configure its operation to meet their specific needs. No detailed programming or electronics knowledge is necessary to get on the air, but if you want to dig deeper, bring your shovel!

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The tinderbox is essentially a programmable, digital FM transmitter that can cover the commercial broadcast band. The tinderbox features a 1/8in. stereo jack for two channel, line-level input from any analog source. Sporting 2mW of broadcast power, the tinderbox can transmit up to 30 feet or more with a proper antenna. *See disclaimer.

The tinderbox can be operated as a stand-alone transmitter or can be tethered to a computer via a USB connection. In stand-alone mode, power can be provided via a 7-12VDC adaptor (a 9V one is included) or via a 5V mini USB charger (such as for the iPhone). The tinderbox has a simple interface allowing the transmitter to be switched between on-air and standby modes. Tuning is accomplished through up and down buttons that increase or decrease the broadcast frequency in 200kHz increments, e.g., 103.9, 103.7, 103.5, etc.

In tethered mode, all functions of the transmitter can be controlled by host software running on the computer. Sample code for popular programming environments such as Max/MSP, Pure Data and Processing will be available soon.

Although the tinderbox comes ready-to-transmit, it is possible to customize its operation to your specific needs. The tinderbox is built upon the freeduino, an open-source, Arduino-compatible physical computing platform that affords serial communications over USB and the ability to modify how it works via a programming interface.