[Ania] wrote in to let us know her team had finished the Multixylophoniomnibus and that they have posted an extensive writeup about it. We covered this augmented xylophone when it was still in development at the beginning of this month. Originally they wanted to use mallets wrapped in tinfoil as switches that close when they contact the metal keys, something akin to matchbox cars as a switch. This plan was thwarted when they realized the paint surface insulated the metal keys. At this point they switched to piezo sensors which turned into an odyssey of trial and error to achieve a reliable input for the Arduino to monitor. In the end they got it working with around forty lines of code, interfacing six boxes containing a different type of noisemaker.

See the finished instrument played in the video after the break. Alas, the addition of the piezo sensors do impede the resonance of the xylophone keys, but we still like it! There’s something reminiscent of the beginning of Pink Floyd’s Money when this is played.


  1. Skitchin says:

    Voting this as the hardest HAD article title to pronounce.

    @Mike: I hear what you’re talking about haha

    Here’s a supa slick cover of Money btw

  2. samurai says:

    There’s THAT word again…. =P

  3. Will says:

    They should use reflected laser light onto a LDR or something. That would generate a low resistance fluctuation they could take advantage of without having to impede the keys.

  4. Will says:

    Just to clarify my previous comment (sorry, it’s early where I live): They should use a reflective coating (tin foil, just the natural shiney paint surface, etc.) on the underside of the keys. A laser (a cheap $1 red one) shines on to that surface, and is reflected onto an LDR or a photoresistor.

    When they key is hit, the beam of the laser will fluctuate a little, this will cause some change in resistance, which can be measured.

    I know that the vibrations will be very small – however I have used a similar technique in a project I have done before to do with making a laser-audio-wall-bouncer-offer-spy-thing. It is workable.

  5. Karl says:

    Why not a magnetic pickup – [coil + magnet] under each bar – easy enough to detect.

  6. MS3FGX says:

    Clearly not much thought was given to this project, there are many ways they could have gracefully detected key hits, at the same time actually justifying the processing power of the Arduino. As I recall, a number of them were mentioned the first time this was covered on HaD, so apparently they aren’t big on constructive input either.

    This looks a lot more like one of those “art” experiments that the MAKE crowd is so in love with.

  7. blerp says:

    yeah, art is stoopid

  8. Kevvo16 says:

    What I thought this might be before I clicked on it was an amplified xylophone that created a feedback loop between the key, the pickup, and the speaker which could be started by hitting the key or playing the note through the speaker. Hitting it at different velocities or playing the note at different volumes would cause the feedback loops to vary in amplitude.

    It just seemed it might be worth sharing :-P

  9. Bill says:

    Multixylophoniomnibus… That poor boy fighting for his life against this horrible disease. God be with you!

  10. Smokeup Johhny says:

    Skitchin: Sorry, bro….but that was one of the WORST covers of money I’ve ever heard!

  11. jAMES says:

    I love hacked instruments, especially cheap ones.
    the only thing i would have liked to see with this one as a finished project is transparent noise maker containers so you could see the things bouncing around as you hit the bars, like they had with the prototype.

  12. MakesLoveToArduinos says:

    @Smokeup Johhny

    /agreed. Pink Floyd needs no covering, leave them be. Their music is already beyond orgasmic.

  13. jeffreeey says:

    they didnt realize the paint would insulate right away? real cool project but think about it. keep it simple. using a key or block as a conductor is simple, but why not just hot an array of buttons of thats the functionality that you are going for.

  14. that guy says:

    The first time this was posted I complained about the sensors muting the keys, but they managed to alter the pitch enough to make a goofy eastern sounding scale this time.

  15. StrangeRover says:

    Very clever.
    It’s a metallophone, by the way. By definition a xylophone’s keys are made of wood.

  16. roshamboe says:

    they should have used arduino

  17. Ania says:

    @ roshamboe we did use arduino

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