Upon obtaining a small toy piano, Måns Jonasson went to work “Arduinoizing” it with 30 solenoids to hammer out tunes.
A MIDI shield is used to pipe commands from a computer to the Arduino Mega that’s used for control, and after experimenting with discreet wiring and electronics for each of the solenoids, he switched to motor shields as outlined here to simplify the setup. This, along with a new version of the solenoid holders he designed, cleaned up the build nicely, allowing it to play a plinky version of the Super Mario Bros. theme song.
Be sure to check out the Mario themed auto-concert in the video below, plus a video outline of its construction, below.
This particular piano’s keys use lever action to strike thin steel tines. These tines are spaced just wide enough for tiny 5V solenoids to fit over them. Once [Måns] got a single solenoid striking away via MIDI input, he began designing 3D printed holders to affix them to the soundboard.
Everything worked with all thirty solenoids in place, but the wiring was a bird’s nest of spaghetti until he upgraded to motor driver shields. Then he designed a new bracket to hold eight solenoids at once, with a channel for each pair of wires. Every eight solenoids, there’s an Arduino and a motor shield.
The resulting junior player piano sounds like someone playing wind chimes like a xylophone, or a tiny Caribbean steel drum. Check out the build video after the break.
People love to talk about the weather. It’s the perfect small talk, whether you’re trying to start a conversation or keep one going by avoiding an awkward silence. In the same fashion, weather stations are an ideal starting point for any sort of sensor-related project ideas. You get to familiarizing yourself with communication buses, ADCs, general data acquisition, and you learn a lot in figuring out how to visualize it all.
What if your weather station didn’t visualize anything? [OttoNL] is answering that question with a MIDI-generating Weather Station that uses the mood of the music to convey the condition of the elements outside.
Using an ESP8266 programmed via the Arduino IDE, [OttoNL] hooked up a light dependent resistor, a rain sensor, and the all-round workhorse BME280 for temperature, barometric pressure, and humidity to it. Reading the sensors, the ESP will generate MIDI notes that are sent to a connected synthesizer, with each sensor influencing a different aspect of the generated MIDI signals. A sadder, slow tune will play during rain and a fast upbeat one during sunshine. While it doesn’t use the ESP’s WiFi functionality at all at this point, a future version could easily retrieve some weather forecast data from the internet and add it into the mix as well.
Connect this to your alarm clock, and you can start your day off in the appropriate mood. You can even customize your breakfast toast to really immerse your morning routine in abstract weather cues.
Michael Koopman wanted to learn piano. However, after finding this pursuit frustrating, he instead decided to assemble his own 3D-printed MIDI jammer keyboard, inspired by the AXiS-49 interface pad.
His instrument is controlled via an Arduino Due, with 85 buttons arranged in a diagonal pattern. This allows for whole steps on the horizontal axis, fourths on one diagonal, fifths on the other diagonal, and octaves on the vertical axis.
This configuration enables the device to be used in a variety of ways, and features an additional six buttons and four potentiometers to vary playing style, along with ¼ inch jacks for auxiliary inputs.
As seen in the video below, while Koopman had a hard time with the piano, apparently that wasn’t case with his MIDI keyboard, as he’s able to play it beautifully—even using two at a time around 8:15!
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.
When you see a vacuum cleaner, most people see a useful implement to keep their carpets clean. James Bruton, however, envisioned another use—as a musical instrument. His new project, which made its appearance this year on April Fools’ Day, sucks air through 12 recorders, allowing it to play a full octave and the melody and lead from “Africa” by Toto… or so he’d have you believe!
In reality, power for his instrument comes from a separate Henry Hoover in another room, blowing air through the normally-suction tube of the broken device on the screen. An Arduino Mega, along with a MIDI shield, enables it to open and close air lines to each of the 12 recorders as needed.
Check out how it was made in the first video below and the original fake in the second.
Engineers create something out of nothing, and no where is this more apparent than in the creation of customized computer hardware. To make a simple MIDI controller, you need knowledge of firmware design and computer architecture, you need knowledge of mechanical design, and you need to know electronic design. And then you need the actual working knowledge and experience to wield a tool, be it a hammer, laser cutter, or an IDE. [Mega Das] brought together all of these skill to build a MIDI controller. Sure, it’s for bleeps and bloops coming out of a speaker, but take a step back and realize just how awesome it is that any one person could imagine, then implement such a device.
The electronics for this build include a printed circuit board that serves to break out the connections on an Arduino nano to a dozen arcade push buttons, four slide pots, two rotary pots, and a handful of screw terminals to connect everything together. Mechanically, this is a laser-cut box engraved with some fancy graphics and sized perfectly to put everything inside.
Yes, we’ve seen a lot of MIDI controllers built around the Arduino over the years, but this one is in a class by itself. This is taking off-the-shelf parts and customizing them to exactly what you want, and a prodigious example of what is possible with DIY hardware creation. You can check out the build video below.
Michael Sobolak was inspired by the hardware dedicated to Ableton digital audio software, along with the DIY MIDI Fighter pads that others have constructed, to make his own light-up version.
His device is cut out of ¼-inch MDF, housing a 4×4 array of main buttons, 18 smaller buttons on the bottom and eight potentiometers, four of which are surrounded by NeoPixel rings.
To handle this massive array of inputs, he turned to the use of multiplexers, creating a spaghetti-like—though functional—wiring arrangement hidden underneath. The pad uses an Arduino Uno to control the NeoPixels, while a separate board is tasked with the MIDI interface.
You can see Sobolak’s project crank out music in the video below, with LEDs that react to potentiometer input settings.
If you’ve ever seen a MIDI pad with dozens of light-up buttons producing electronic music, you may have considered building one using an Arduino. As shown in GreatScott!’s latest write-up, you can indeed create your own Novation Launchpad-like device using a Nano for control, but the real question is should you?
In the video below, GreatScott! shares how made a 6×6 pad, using a 3D-printed body and buttons arranged in a matrix to save I/O, along with WS2812B LEDs. He also goes over the MIDI protocol, which he was able to implement using loopMIDI and Hairless MIDI to serial bridge for Arduino interface.
While the DIY option may or may not be right for you, the concepts presented could be applied to a wide range of electronic musical interface projects.
In this episode of DIY or Buy I will be showing you how I created my own Launchpad. That means I will show you how I combined a design idea with 3D prints, WS2812 LEDs, tactile switches and an Arduino to create a proper MIDI instrument. While building I will also tell you a bit about a keyboard matrix and in the end determine what advantages the DIY Launchpad offers.
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!