I’m building a series of robotic instruments that play music based on MIDI input. Inspired by orchestrions and a long fascination I’ve had with fairground organs and street organs, these instruments are meant to entertain, not merely make interesting sounds.
What’s done now
Small victories in the endless race against time:
- A Teensy-based USB MIDI controller with software for motor-specific PWM easing.
- Circuit assembly: power supply, motor driver chips, messy wiring.
- A decent variety of small DC solenoids. Like a fine wine, they’ll pair with appropriate surfaces and software tuning to create the ideal cacophony.
This is a true back-burner of a project, but it’s alive and well. Current research is focused on:
- Calibrating software controls to individual solenoid model responses
- Testing alternative (non-solenoid) electromechanical actuator mechanisms
- Accumulating drum and mallet percussion surfaces for a test build