Embedding an accelerometer and XBee in a guitar

[JP Carrascal] hacked his guitar by adding motion control while removing the need for wires. He’s using a dual-Arduino system with an Mini Pro inside the guitar and a Duemilanova for the receiver connected to a computer. Wireless is provided by the XBee module seen above and a gutted Wii remote accelerometer is in there for motion sensing. Check out the artfully blurry demonstration of the motion effects after the break.

While he added some potentiometer-based controls there is also an automatic power-down feature. [JP] replaced the mono pickup with a stereo one and used the extra conductor as a switch to activate the additional electronics. We wonder if he also winds his own pickups or builds his own effects pedals.


  1. mowcius says:


    Tut tut…

    The arduino lovers won’t be happy…



    oh btw. In b4 arduino overkill

  2. Eth3real says:


    I couldn’t help myself. :P

    Very nice work!

  3. Squirrel says:

    2x arduino = 2x flaming?

    I wonder about the sound quality of that system, since zigbee, if I remember correctly, has a maximum speed of 250 kbps, which is about medium quality compressed mp3. Bluetooth can reach speeds of 24Mbps, which is enough to do extremely high quality audio, or even video. Then again, Wi-Fi 802.11n can reach a maximum theoretical bandwidth of 600Mbps. All of the numbers are the theoretical maximum (except maybe the zigbee), so you can probably expect half or less actual throughput.

    So in summary, I love the idea (have been wanting to do this for a while), but for concert-quality sound, other wireless options would have to be explored.

    On a more random guitar note, anybody think it would be possible/plausible to design a pickup system that would be able to analyze every string simultaneously and convert the note(s) being played to a MIDI output?

  4. Ryan says:

    Wait… what the hell is the accelerometer for??

  5. nate says:

    @Squirrel: MIDI pickups have been done. Just Google “MIDI pickups” and you’ll see quite a few. Or were you talking about a DIY setup?

    I’ve used an older Roland system, and it tracks fairly well, albeit with a slight lag.

  6. XANi says:

    If someone didn’t get it, he doesn’t use arduino to send sound wireless (there is a bloody cable coming out of guitar), just accerelometer data, and he uses that to control effects.

    And guidatr is Mayones Setius Lizard ;]

  7. chango says:

    @Ryan Google Pete Townshend

  8. Brad Hein says:

    very nice! I don’t know alot about Guitar music but it seems quite original. Great work!

  9. Squirrel says:

    @nate of course it’d be DIY. This is HackADay after all. Maybe using an xmega (not sure if you could get a fast enough sample rate on 6 inputs simultaneously with this) or an external adc with enough sample rate and enough resolution to successfully capture sound waves (so a refresh rate of ~22kHz, not sure on the resolution) then just measure wavelength and pass on the notes based on the wavelength.

  10. wdfowty says:

    @chango so the accelerometer is to measure the force at which he smashes the guitar to pieces?

  11. spyder_21 says:

    Sound is nice, but the video sucks. Why did you make it blur in and out, really downgraded the vid. I wanted to watch your hand movement.

  12. JP says:

    You’re right, but that was not intentional. The camera I got had problems with the autofocus. I’ll try to post another video soon.
    Thanks for watching, anyway!


  13. pedro says:

    Looks like a clean job.

    Here is a cheaper version :


  14. Mikey says:

    It would be neat to see the star power tilt actually do something visual effects wise, like make the stage backdrop at the pub turn into stars or something. Though, this is cool too.

    @Squirrel they make MIDI guitars but they’re expensive. If you’re just using an instrument to get a MIDI output, unless you have an attachment to the guitar, I would guess that the keyboard is probably the best way to go.

  15. Coyotecom says:

    The cameraman needs to be beat in the head with a tripod. Cool hack tho.

  16. mowcius says:

    Nobody changed this to duemilanove yet then?

    Hackaday is slipping…

  17. waffles1200 says:

    i came up with this idea a week ago!! way to beat me, good job

  18. Jay says:

    By the way hes using a stereo jack, not a stereo pickup to activate the system.

    A lot of pedals and pretty much all active instruments use those.

  19. Biscuit says:

    @ Squirrel,

    Just designed and implemented a design for 6 monophic inputs to MIDI output. Very possible, not extremely hard.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 96,678 other followers