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Max Danilin created an automatic barrel piano that outputs MIDI signals, not through an SD card or internal memory, but by reading sheet music encoded on paper as black dots and dashes.

The paper is pulled under an array of 40 optocouplers using a hand crank — or even power drill — providing musical info to the device’s controlling MKR Zero board. These inputs are translated into USB MIDI, which can then be passed along to any synthesizer for a wide range of audio output.

The electronics and paper feed mechanism are put together in an elegantly simple way, and it appears to work quite well in the video below. In fact, it can even be played while mobile via casters on the bottom of its stand!

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.

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.

Some years ago, Emily Velasco started exploring the idea of creating a musical instrument based on a pendulum. This didn’t work out exactly the way she’d planned, but after several iterations — and inspiration from a cat toy — the device eventually turned into a sort of wobbling egg-shaped instrument, which sings as it tilts and tumbles. 

The Orb —  as seen and heard in the video below — is truly strange, reminiscent of a theremin morphed with a trendy bowl-shaped wooden speaker. 

As it’s spun, the Orb produces a sort of warbling noise, and one can position it to vary the sound by hand if they so desire. Inside lies an Arduino Nano running the Mozzi audio synthesis library, along with an accelerometer and audio amplifier board. 

It’s one thing to be able to transcribe music from a flute, and it’s another to be able to make a flute play pre-written music. The latter is what [Abhilash Patel] decided to pursue in the flute player machine, an Arduino-based project that uses an air flow mechanism and PVC pipes to control the notes produced by a makeshift flute. It’s currently able to play 17 notes, just over two octaves starting from the lowest frequency of E.

In order to play songs, the tones have to either be directly coded and uploaded to the Arduino, composed with a random note generator, or detected from a microphone. While a real flute can be used for the machine, [Patel] uses a PVC flute, constructed with some knowledge of flute playing.

The resonant frequency is based on the effective length, hole sizes, and pipe diameter, so it is fairly difficult to correctly tune a homemade flute. Nevertheless, calculating the length as c/2f where c is the speed of sound (~345 m/s) and f is the frequency of the note can help with identifying the location of the holes. [Patel] cut the PVC pipe and sealed off one end, drilling a blowing hole at 1.5 x the pipe diameter. After playing the flute, the end of the pipe was filled until the frequency exactly matched the desired note.

The hole covering uses cuttings of pipe attached to a cable connecting to a servo. The motors are isolated inside a box to keep the wires clear and area all able to be powered with 5 V. As for the software, the code is primarily used to control when the fan is blowing and which holes are covered to produce a note.

Listen to the flute play “My Heart Will Go On” from Titanic in the video below. Now the next step might just be making the flute playing machine automatically play sheet music – imagine the possibilities!

If your young child wants to listen to music, what better way than a beautiful wooden MP3 “radio,” with an array of buttons that select the album? After being inspired by a similar commercial product, Redditor “DerThes” decided to make such a device for a fraction of the cost using an Arduino Uno for control, along with a Music Maker Shield to play off an SD card.

The toddler can select tunes from a grid of 16 input buttons, which are sent to the Uno via a pair of shift registers. There’s also a “parent’s mode” with the ability to choose from up to 99 albums, and a volume knob for… adjusting the volume. 

Finally, the unt features a beautiful enclosure made out of oak and black walnut, with corners softened by dowels to reduce collateral damage “after the player has gone airborne.” More details can be seen on Imgur here and on GitHub.

This is an easy to use MP3 player for small children. I made this for my 2 year old for Christmas. Each of the top 9 buttons will play an album. The black buttons on the bottom are prev – play/pause – next. The player also supports an alternative playback mode that can be activated using a special key combination. That combination will turn the buttons into a 10 digit input matrix allowing playback of up to 99 albums. That way the player can be used by parents as well. 😉

See GitHub for more details, the schematics for the button PCB and the firmware. https://github.com/MichaelThessel/arduino-stoerbert

This is heavily inspired by Hoerbert: https://en.hoerbert.com

When I first saw the Hoerbert at a friends place I wanted it for my child. After I heard of the $400 price tag I knew that I needed to spend 50 hrs and $100 to build my own.

[Robson Couto] started to get interested in musical projects and as a side effect created downloadable code with simple notation for a good variety of themes, songs, and melodies. They are all for the Arduino and use only the built-in tone() function, but don’t let that distract you. If you look past that, you’ll see that each sketch is a melody that consists of single notes and durations; easily adapted to other purposes or simply used as-is. After all, [Robson] wanted the source of each tune to be easily understood, easily modified, and to have no external dependencies.

All that may sound a bit like MIDI, but MIDI has much more in common with hardware events than music notation because it includes (among other things) note starts and note ends as separate elements. Converting MIDI into a more usable format was a big part of a project that fed Bach music to a neural network and got surprisingly good results.

When doing music projects, sometimes having a recognizable melody represented very simply as notes and durations with only one note at a time can be an awfully handy resource, and you can find them on GitHub. There’s a brief video of the Tetris theme (actual name: Korobeiniki) being played after the break.

[Robson Couto] started to get interested in musical projects and as a side effect created downloadable code with simple notation for a good variety of themes, songs, and melodies. They are all for the Arduino and use only the built-in tone() function, but don’t let that distract you. If you look past that, you’ll see that each sketch is a melody that consists of single notes and durations; easily adapted to other purposes or simply used as-is. After all, [Robson] wanted the source of each tune to be easily understood, easily modified, and to have no external dependencies.

All that may sound a bit like MIDI, but MIDI has much more in common with hardware events than music notation because it includes (among other things) note starts and note ends as separate elements. Converting MIDI into a more usable format was a big part of a project that fed Bach music to a neural network and got surprisingly good results.

When doing music projects, sometimes having a recognizable melody represented very simply as notes and durations with only one note at a time can be an awfully handy resource, and you can find them on GitHub. There’s a brief video of the Tetris theme (actual name: Korobeiniki) being played after the break.

Unless you’re very good, personal synths are fun for you — though often quite annoying for onlookers. After making his own wristwatch-based synth in 2016, Clem Mayer decided to build a new version that’s larger and louder than ever, and programmable via an Arduino controller.

Mayer chose the MKR WiFi 1010 here to take advantage of its LiPo charging abilities. This enables the device to be entirely self-contained in its custom housing, with a variety of switches and sliders for an interface. 

Users can program their own “tune” to be played back, or even take advantage of a random sequence generated on startup, then modify the sound as it plays live.



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