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There are a wide variety of ways to create electronic music. For a capable machine that fits in the palm of your hand and is loud enough to use outdoors, however, it’s hard to imagine a battery-powered device cooler than Bitty from Curious Sound Objects. 

The pocket-sized drum machine and synthesizer, currently on Kickstarter, was prototyped using an Arduino Nano and will be fully Arduino-compatible when released. This means that in addition to changing the sound and interface around with readily-available sound packs—which include Theremin Bitty, Techno Bitty, Basement Bitty, Trap Bitty, Lofi Bitty, and Beach Bitty—it can be programmed with the Arduino IDE. The device can even run sound software written for other Arduino boards.

Bitty features four sample trigger buttons, a pair of knobs, and a speaker. Designed for entry-level EDM enthusiasts and studio musicians alike, you can play the drums and melodies manually, as well as trigger patterns to produce dance music or hip hop beats. These can be chosen via the left knob, while the right knob handles pitch, note selection, and arpeggiation.

Check it out in action below!


Keytars may have had their moment of popularity in the 1980s, but instruments of the day can’t hold a candle to “The Blade” by makers Sam Wray, Siddharth Vadgama, and Greig Stewart. 

The musical device feeds signals from a pair of Guitar Hero necks, along with a stripped down keytar from Rock Band, into an Arduino Mega. This data is then sent to a Raspberry Pi running PD Extended, and is used to control a pair of Game Boys to produce distinct 8-bit sounds. Audio output can be further modified with a Leap Motion sensor embedded in one of the two necks. 

What makes up The Blade?

– 3D-printed housing

We custom modeled and printed a housing for the instrument to ensure it would be ergonomic to wield, hold together with all the components, and also look badass.

– Two Guitar Hero necks

The necks, hacked off a couple of old Guitar Hero controllers, were totally rewired to output the button presses to jumper cables.

– Arduino Mega

All the wiring from the Guitar Hero necks fed into the Mega, which then registered the button presses and output appropriate MIDI signals over USB serial into the Raspberry Pi.

– Rock Band keytar

We stripped this down to the bare keyboard and had the MIDI also going into the Pi.

Raspberry Pi

Taking in all the MIDI, and running PD Extended we got this to manage and re-map all the button presses we needed. This then output to a MIDI thru box.

– Arduino Boy

This fed the MIDI signals from the thru box into the Game Boy.

Game Boy

These were heart. With MIDI fed in from a multitude of sources, the Game Boy, running mGB, was the synthesizing the signals into sound, output via a standard 3.5mm jack. 

Leap Motion
The Leap Motion was used for further sound modulation.

If you’d like to visualize your music, VU meters make an excellent tool. While they are generally built into audio equipment, maker James Bruton had the idea to construct his own using lasers. His setup features an MSGEQ7 module to separate sound frequencies, sending data on seven different ranges to an Arduino Mega board.

The Arduino then uses this information to selectively lower seven shutters via servos. When lowered, these shutters hide part of the lines formed by lasers and a spinning mirror assembly to indicate each sound frequency’s intensity.

The resulting machine not only effectively projects a visual of the music playing on a nearby wall, but also looks like some sort of mythical beast or contraption, progressively waving its appendages while emitting eerie green light!

Although this kind of project can be fun, be sure to wear the proper safety equipment when dealing with powerful lasers!


According to musician/maker Ruben Dax, “Few things make him happier than being able to create things that create things.” As seen in the video below, what he’s created is a very strange cylindrical instrument with an array of buttons and what appears to be an auxiliary loop controller. 

What he creates with it is music that starts off as simple “plink-plonk” sounds, but builds up into something of an orchestral arrangement.

The DIY device utilizes an Arduino Mega for control, with a bunch of pushbuttons and a dual-axis joystick for inputs. Button info is then sent to his computer over Bluetooth, which takes care of actual MIDI generation. 

As cool as this is, a new gadget is in the works, which uses a Leonardo and other hardware for plug-and-play functionality. Whether this will interfere with the instrument’s unique rotating action remains to be seen!

According to musician/maker Ruben Dax, “Few things make him happier than being able to create things that create things.” As seen in the video below, what he’s created is a very strange cylindrical instrument with an array of buttons and what appears to be an auxiliary loop controller. 

What he creates with it is music that starts off as simple “plink-plonk” sounds, but builds up into something of an orchestral arrangement.

The DIY device utilizes an Arduino Mega for control, with a bunch of pushbuttons and a dual-axis joystick for inputs. Button info is then sent to his computer over Bluetooth, which takes care of actual MIDI generation. 

As cool as this is, a new gadget is in the works, which uses a Leonardo and other hardware for plug-and-play functionality. Whether this will interfere with the instrument’s unique rotating action remains to be seen!

Brandon Switzer had a grand image in mind when he set off to create this player piano. Like most of us, he had an arduino that had been sitting there doing nothing for quite some time. He needed a project to focus his attention and learn some things. He landed […]

Read more on MAKE

The post Brandon’s Player Piano Took Patience, and A Whole Lot of Solenoids appeared first on Make: DIY Projects and Ideas for Makers.

LED strips reacting to sound is nothing new; however, Paul Shulman’s setup does things a bit differently. Instead of responding to the tune’s overall volume, one musical frequency is analyzed and averaged; if the intensity changes sufficiently on that particular frequency, the corresponding lighting effect is also changed. This avoids the problem of analyzing a music source that doesn’t necessarily change with the final output volume.

A SparkFun Spectrum Shield is used for frequency separation. An Arduino handles signal analysis, which sends a change effect command to the lighting controller when needed. There’s also a wireless remote available to adjust the lighting manually. 

This system was designed with the goal of having color-chasing LED effects that automatically sync with a hard music line. The color-chasing effects observed in the video are actually not synchronized to the music, but the changing of effects is. The system works well across many genres of music. This system is unique in that music volume does not matter. Many commercial implementations control lighting effects based off of overall volume intensity. This is problematic, as many people do not control final music volume with the source of the music (i.e. leaving your PC volume constant and controlling speaker volume instead.

An additional feature of this system is that it contains a wireless remote and the ability to control the lights independent of the music. This allows for rapid light patterns at parties, and soothing ambient lighting at all other times.

Code for the project is available in Shulman’s write-up, and the results can be seen in the demo video below. 

LED strips reacting to sound is nothing new; however, Paul Shulman’s setup does things a bit differently. Instead of responding to the tune’s overall volume, one musical frequency is analyzed and averaged; if the intensity changes sufficiently on that particular frequency, the corresponding lighting effect is also changed. This avoids the problem of analyzing a music source that doesn’t necessarily change with the final output volume.

A SparkFun Spectrum Shield is used for frequency separation. An Arduino handles signal analysis, which sends a change effect command to the lighting controller when needed. There’s also a wireless remote available to adjust the lighting manually. 

This system was designed with the goal of having color-chasing LED effects that automatically sync with a hard music line. The color-chasing effects observed in the video are actually not synchronized to the music, but the changing of effects is. The system works well across many genres of music. This system is unique in that music volume does not matter. Many commercial implementations control lighting effects based off of overall volume intensity. This is problematic, as many people do not control final music volume with the source of the music (i.e. leaving your PC volume constant and controlling speaker volume instead.

An additional feature of this system is that it contains a wireless remote and the ability to control the lights independent of the music. This allows for rapid light patterns at parties, and soothing ambient lighting at all other times.

Code for the project is available in Shulman’s write-up, and the results can be seen in the demo video below. 

We don’t think [bleepbit] will take offense when we say the “poor man’s theremin” looks cheesy — after all, it was built in a cheese container. Actually, it isn’t a bad case for a simple device, as you can see in the picture and the video below. Unlike a traditional theremin, the device uses ultrasonics to detect how far away your hand is and modifies the sound based on that.

There are also two buttons — one to turn the sound off and another to cycle through some effects. We liked how it looked like a retro cassette, though. The device uses a cheap Arduino clone, but even with a real Arduino, the price wouldn’t be too bad. However, the price tag quoted doesn’t include a few connectors or the speaker that appears in the schematic. There’s a note that the model built uses a jack instead of a speaker, but it would be nice to include both and use the kind of jack that disconnects the speaker when you plug speakers or headphones in.

The code is simple and there are four possible effects you can cycle through with one of the buttons. Unlike a real theremin, you can trigger this one with anything the ultrasonic sensor can see. The Arduino audio quality is not superb, of course, but it is still a fun rainy day project.

We couldn’t help but think that a 32-bit Arduino could have used one of the sophisticated audio libraries. However, there are other libraries that might improve things even with the 8-bit processor.

Granted, this isn’t a true theremin, but we’ve seen plenty of those, too. We’ve even used the same sensors to control a PC.

Annelle Rigsby found that her mother, who suffers from Alzheimer’s, is delighted to hear familiar songs. While Annelle can’t always be there to help her enjoy music, she and her husband Mike came up with what they call the Notable Board Book that automatically plays tunes.

The book itself is well laid-out, with song text and familiar photos printed on the pages. Electronics for the book are in a prototype state using an Arduino Uno and an Adafruit Sound Board to store and replay the audio bits.

Page detection is handled by an array of photocells, and it is meant to turn on automatically when picked up via a series of tilt switches. When a switch is triggered, a relay can then hold the book on until the song that is playing is done, or for a predetermined amount of time.



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