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  • August 30th, 2012 Events Hacks How to Make a SoundCloud Powered Children's Toy By paulosman

    Just over a week ago we had our first internal hackathon at SoundCloud. You can read (and listen!) about it on our community blog or read some of the awesome press coverage the event received.


    We had over 60 people attend and over 20 projects were demoed. I joined a team organized by Josh Devins to build ToyBox, a children's toy that plays sounds from SoundCloud in response to physical events. The team consisted of myself, Horaci Cuevas, Josh Devins, and Oliver Hookins.

    The first task was to come up with a design for our project. An Arduino fitted with gyro, accelerometer and motion sensors provided the interface between real world events and the rest of the system. A Raspberry Pi would then run the following pieces of software:

    • toybox:downloader - The downloader polls a webapp for data about what sounds from SoundCloud should be played in response to certain events. In order to make the toy more responsive, toybox:downloader downloads the sounds from SoundCloud and stores them on disk (The Raspberry Pi's SD card).

    • toybox:playback - An asynchronous wrapper around mplayer.

    • toybox:serial - An app that listens for data on the Raspberry Pi's serial port. Event data from the Arduino is printed out on stdout for other processes to consume. toybox:serial also uses 0MQ to push event data to a web interface so you can monitor a toy's activity from a browser. The 0MQ consumer also responds to events by playing the appropriate sounds using toybox:playback.

    To provide an interface for toy owners to register a toy (id'd by the Raspberry Pi's MAC address) and associate SoundCloud sounds with events, we built a simple Sinatra application that we hosted on Heroku. toybox:webapp also provides a couple of endpoints that serve JSON describing what sounds should be played when for a particular toy. This provided the service endpoint needed by toybox:downloader.

    Knowing what needed to be built, we each started hacking on a piece. Horaci worked on toybox:serial, Oliver worked on toybox:downloader and toybox:playback and I worked on toybox:webapp. Josh focused on the Arduino soldering and coding and Oliver and Horaci helped get the Pi set up. You can see the Arduino code here.

    There was a bit of frantic integration work at the end, but it did all come together nicely. It was great to see sounds being played from SoundCloud whenever a button was pushed, or the toybox was shaken, tilted or spoken to.


    Making it pretty is a job for another hackathon :-)

  • July 12th, 2012 Announcements Events Hacks Recording and Sharing Phone Calls By Paul Osman

    A few weeks ago, I attended News Hack Day in San Francisco. News Hack Days are events that bring together journalists, developers and designers for multi day creative coding and brainstorming sessions.

    I really like the idea of hack days that bring together people from different backgrounds. After chatting with a few journalists, it became obvious to me that recording interviews on the phone is a real pain. I saw this as an opportunity to build a fun app that would make this easier for people.


  • June 29th, 2012 Events Hacks Music Hack Day Barcelona 2012 By Darrell Stephenson

    SoundCloud loves hack days. Our latest hack day adventure brought us to Music Hack Day in Barcelona and we thought we’d share a bit of the great experience we had there.

    Music Hack Day Barcelona Venue Photo by Thomas Bonte


  • April 17th, 2012 Events SoundCloud at HackTO By paulosman

    On Saturday, I joined over a hundred other hackers at HackTO. This has become a regular event in the Toronto tech scene, thanks to excellent organizing by Leila Boujnane and Corey Reid. SoundCloud joined several other API providers, including Atomic Reach, Context.IO, FreshBooks, Shopify, TinEye, Twilio, Trendspottr, WordPress and YellowAPI.

    The idea behind the event is simple: find a team (or go solo) and build an app using one or more of the APIs presented by sponsors. All apps have to be demoable by 5pm at which time you pitch to the judges who select the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners.



  • February 14th, 2012 Events Hacks SoundCloud at Music Hack Day SF By paulosman

    This past weekend, hundreds of hackers showed up at the TokBox HQ with a mission to build the future of music. The event started with pitches — giving sponsors a chance to show off their APIs — followed by in-depth workshops where attendees could learn more about each platform and ask questions related to their project. Once the hacking time started, people quickly broke off into groups and got to work.

    Room full of Hackers