Robo-Tambourine (Robambourine? Tamborobot?)

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Continuing on my work putting together some electronic projects, for some time, I’ve been hoping to create a robotic drummer, specifically a robotic taiko that I can perform with on shamisen.

I had this idea a while ago, but there were a number of challenges, such as getting solenoids strong enough to do the work, the mechanics of the drum swing, and, importantly, constructing the taiko.

Since I’m on an DIY kick now, I figured I’d put together a mini drumbot with things I had lying around already (including a discarded tambourine), as a baby step toward this goal.

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I happened to have a little solenoid and vibration motor that I got at Sparkfun, and figured I’d JFDI (“Just ____ Do It”) and put together the tambourine bot.

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It’s actually all fairly straightforward. The MIDI Breakout is also from Sparkfun, and my arduino code is ridiculously simple (download here if you’re interested). I’m sending out MIDI notes from my computer (in Logic), and the Arduino translates middle C (note number 60) into the vibration, and C# (note number 61) as the mini solenoid.

So here’s how it sounds.

Of course this little guy likely won’t be getting up on stage any time soon, but… baby steps.

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The next step is perhaps to figure out how to get these big old solenoids the 36 volts that they need.


Nightmare Boombox

Over the winter break from teaching, I’ve been spending some time exploring “Lo Fi” music and culture. I’ve always been interested in circuit-bending and chiptune (more on this later) particularly because of the DIY aspects of this mode of music creation.


Of course, I can’t help but feel conflicted because I’ve spent a significant amount of my time and resources training and equipping myself to work on the highest of the “Hi Fi” audio, and I, in some ways, embody the hyper-realism in recording that Lo Fi music is rebelling against.

Currently, I’m composing a piece where I hope to work through some ideas on this conflict, but, for now, here’s my Nightmare Boombox, made from a LeapFrog Fridge DJ.


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The guts

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Some modifications

So up to this point, I approached this as a traditional circuit bending project. Then, sadly, my bent circuit did not survive long enough to be put back in the newly painted case.

No problem. I was hoping to make an Atari Punk Console as my next project, so I decided to kill two birds with one stone.

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New guts

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New custom board

And the final product: