Slide whistles and recorders can be great for learning music, and perhaps a bit of fun, but what about teaching a robot to play such a wind instrument? The Mixed Signal’s MIDI-controlled system could be used for just that.
The project is comprised of a 3D-printed fipple and piston that go into a PVC tube, while air input is via a centrifugal blower fan. A plunger with a rack-and-pinion gear are used to move the piston back and forth, changing the note being played.
A keyboard provides the user interface here, though any number of digital audio workstation devices should be able to duplicate this human task if needed. It’s hooked up to an Arduino Due with a CNC shield, which controls the single stepper motor.
You can find more details on the fipple flute on Hackster and Hackaday, and see a demo of it in action below.
Vintage typewriters are truly amazing pieces of technology, but unlike modern keyboards, they are decidedly one-purpose machines. William Sun Petrus, however, had other ideas for his 1920s-era Remington Portable typewriter, augmenting hammers with wires as inputs to an Arduino Mega.
Input signals are produced when each key strikes a metallic “live plate” in the center, completing a circuit. This info is passed along as MIDI signals to a computer running Ableton digital audio software, allowing him to create the excellent beat seen in the video below.
Typewriter code is available on GitHub, where you’ll certainly notice the lines from Green Eggs and Ham that are output on an LCD screen at the base of the almost 100-year-old device.
Frank Piesik recently designed a robotic three-stringed instrument for his friend, Gregor, that features a unique sound and mechanical arrangement. Notes are selected by an array of 12 servos — four for each string — which pull down using a loop mechanism.
The aptly named Greg’s Harp is played by a solenoid-driven “KickUp” device that hits it from below and a small motor that continuously swipes with a “tape-propeller.” A coil assembly is also implemented to give the notes the ability to keep ringing for as long as needed (infinite sustain).
Everything is controlled by pair of Arduino Nano boards, which allow for the large number of outputs needed here, along with a Teensy 3.2 for audio processing and MIDI capabilities. You can see and hear this amazing project in the video below and more info is available in Piesik’s blog post.
My Sony integrated amp with copper chassis and huge toroidal transformers was a tour de force in my audio setup before the power mains took an indirect lightning hit. Because the microcontroller was fried, I couldn’t even get the unit to power up.
Without access to spare parts — including a new microcontroller assembly — I was at the mercy of factory certified technicians. And — because the unit was just out of warranty — I was going to be out $100 plus shipping in order to get an estimate on the repair.