Self playing Bayan built nearly 22 years ago

The year is 1988, where a Russian engineer [Vladimir Demin] has combined a Bayan, or button accordion, with several (we lost count at about 96) solenoids. If that alone doesn’t blow your mind the computer, also hand built by [Vladimir], controls the whole process leaving the operator to only work the bellows. Putting truth to the fact in Soviet Russia, accordion plays you. We wish we could find some more information about the instrument, but curse our inability to read Russian. Alas check after the break for a shorter version of the video in the link above.

Related: Electronic accordion doesn’t compare.


  1. xoxplox says:


  2. Vadim says:

    That’s just awesome!
    Those crafty Russians know how to have fun.

  3. Ben Ryves says:

    Superb work. :-D

  4. Janek says:

    The instrument is called – accordion.

  5. darkore says:

    This is probably the greatest “hack” I’ve ever seen on this site. Considering the fact that it was made in Russia in 1988. Kudos to you, sir.

  6. Hacksaw says:

    I did something similar in 1988…oh wait I just got drunk and attempted to play “Inagaddadavida” For the cop that came to the door :)

  7. Neolith100 says:


  8. hmburgers says:

    Fantastic! I see from the link that Vladimir was about 39 when this was made… would like to know what he did back then and what he does today…

  9. Andrew says:

    I love his expression as he plays. He knows he’s a complete badass for his work.

    Also kudos for doing it the year I was born

  10. Tixlegeek says:


  11. Smokedasphalt says:

    Freaking awesome!
    Built 22 years ago, so many solenoids, hand-made computer! WOW! :)

  12. Mihail121 says:

    Steam-punk fantasy!!!!

  13. zool says:

    it’s fake you can see the arduino sticking out of the keyboard
    lol jk

  14. Banjohat says:

    That is the ESSENCE of geek! seriously that is so awesome!
    bulding a computercontrolled accordion – check
    building your own computer to control the thingy – check
    appear on HaD 22 years later – CHECK! (at last!! )

    making absolutely everyone that feels just a little bit geeky today ashamed of their puny little *uinos – check indeed!

  15. Slav-Cyborg says:

    The bitter truth is that such high skilled engineer in Russia is not a required profession.
    It’s something like amateur CNC and it very good for 1988.

  16. M4CGYV3R says:

    In Soviet Russia, Accordion plays YOU!

  17. Necromant says:

    Well, I do read russian (since I am russian) and I can say that there are unfortunately no build details at that link, so you didn’t miss a thing.
    But I can assist should you need any translation.
    And well, yeah, awesome work. So much reminds me of the goodies my grandfather used to make.

  18. Rob says:

    It’s Accordion Hero, with a Russian reversal.

  19. gyro_john says:

    @Necromant: What kind of goodies, for instance, sir?

  20. Erdem U. A. says:


  21. mind_blown says:

    This man, is my new hero.

  22. ledtester says:

    Interesting… in the extended video at 17:47 there is a time/date imprint with the year 1997.

    The computer certainly looks like it’s from 1988 though.

  23. dbear says:

    He’s just a rack,a pneumatic cylinder and a proportional valve away from it playing itself.
    But it is way cool just as it is. BTW check out the O’scope in the background and the homebrew keyboard.
    Vintage coolness.

  24. moo says:

    This is the kinda stuff that needs to be posted here daily!!!!!!

  25. dbear says:

    And is that a 8 inch floppy on the top shelf?

  26. Jim says:

    I’m impressed.

  27. chr0naut says:

    The epitome of style is to know how to play the accordion with great expertise but to choose not to.

    Credits to Vladimir for (not) playing the accordion so well!

    • Rhalla says:

      That’s exactly what I was thinking. One can tell by the way he operates the bellows that he certainly knows what he is doing. Either that or he had time to figure it out between ’88 and ’97; but I doubt that. All of the work put into this is mind blowing; Vladimir is a genius.

  28. bill beaty says:

    Hey, has now added a Russian/English translator to it’s big list

  29. tom61 says:

    @ledtester: The video is definately from around 1997 (there’s PC with tray load CD ROM at the bottom left of the still image, even.) I highly doubt he’d have a video camera then, considering he had to build his own computer and keyboard in 1988. In the capitalist side of the world, you’d have this kind of thing hooked up to a consumer microcomputer at that time.

    Very impressive hack! Where’d he get the solenoids?

  30. Necromant says:

    I still use his homemade lab power supply he gave me, that can drive dc from 0 to 100V up to two amps at 4 separate channels, a stereo amp of his design (He used some unknown to me soviet military transistors. Even he doesn’t remember where he got the specs and the parts – works like a charm, although I never adjust it to the max – just blows the speakers I used. I also have a couple of smaller lab power supplies of his design.
    He also used to make a nice radio jammer, when
    He used to do lots of other analog circuitry, fix those old lamp-based tv sets… Hates the digital world =)
    Now when he’s over 80 he put the soldering iron away – a bit hard for him now.
    Btw. He’s the only one I know, who tests 220 and 380 volts ac with bare fingers (But never does it straight after dinner).

  31. ben says:

    so at the start of the video i was totally thinking he was inputting the missile codes.

  32. First of all, he IS smiling. But he’s smiling in a humble manner. He also looks a little weary and tired — not surprising, considering the time the picture has obviously been taken (about 1997) and the economic situation in Russia at the time. The guy probably had to work real hard just to make the ends meet!

    Now, can you imagine how much trouble it may have been to find all the components for his creation in 1988 in USSR?

  33. nes says:

    More builds should make use of 8″ floppy drives. This is excessively cool! And are those keys on the computer made of plywood?

    (Why is “wierd al” in the tag list? He doesn’t look anything like him.)

  34. cmholm says:

    At first blush, the monitor looks like it could be a repurposed from an Agat (Apple ][ clone)… waste not, want not. But, I think that’s probably the only major Agat component. Otherwise, he’d have also been reusing the case, keyboard, and 5.25″ drive.

  35. strider_mt2k says:

    Incredible work.
    Knowing old Soviet stuff it’s probably still 100% functional too.

  36. Mike says:

    You find one in every Tetris cabinet.

  37. nes says:

    @tom61: Says in the Youtube comments he wound the solenoids himself. With a coil winding machine this number shouldn’t take too long, but making all those formers and the plungers with the buttons on the end must have been dull work.

    Also, the computer is a Specialist. Soviet 8080 clone based and runs a CPM knock-off. Made from plans in a magazine article from the mid-80s apparently. tells me there was a commercial version called a Lik.

  38. lolowski says:

    Look at the other videos. In he is opening(?) that floppy drive.

  39. Horse says:

    I’m sure I rescued that guy in Metal Gear Solid 3

  40. pRoFlT says:

    @horse, i thought it was the guy from COD modern warefare?

  41. D_ says:

    Hard to refute the 1997 time stamp in the video, but I’m willing to take them fr there word that this was created a decade earlier on, and still uses the computer equipment shown. the decade that passes explains the acquisition of the newer computer equipment seen. My guess is that wierd Al is in the tag list because like weird Al (before Al gain some recognition). Vladimir ,wouldn’t come to mind if accordion pay was mentioned, both different in their own good way.

  42. OvRiDe says:

    This is an Accordian

    It has a piano style keyboard.

    This is a Bayan

    It has buttons instead of a piano style keyboard.

  43. Necromant says:

    @D_: As the author states he only had the equipment to create a video years after this Uberhack was done.

  44. Mark Shasha says:

    gotta love nostalgia

  45. Dude465678 says:

    Wow thats awesome

  46. The record was made late in 1997,
    because before(1988) I have not
    any Video-Camera

  47. Torwag says:

    since it seems the original hacker appears here ….
    could someone of the hackaday team have a interview with him.

    I would love to here about his CV and his hacking back in soviet times compared to today.

  48. Sully says:

    Holy heck, Vlad himself makes an appearance in the comments!

    You do us honor.

  49. ladies and gentlemen!
    Sorry ,I can not understand what
    mean words ‘hacking,hack’.
    The meaning is good or no?
    Thank You!

    Best regards,Demin Vladimir.

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