Electronic bag pipes need no bag and use only 1 pipe

A lot of people might turn their noses up at an electronic version of bagpipes. But we see a definite need for them. After all, it’s pretty hard to take your bagpipes on a road trip, but this eChanter will have no trouble entertaining your fellow travelers.

The musical instrument is Arduino-based and the builder can decide between a headphone jack (use it with that FM transmitter when in the car!) or a speaker. The version seen above uses headphones with a piece of PVC pipe as the body, screw heads as touch sensors, and a project box to hold the electronics. But there are a lot of alternatives suggested, such as using automatic sprinkler parts. It sounds like a riser, connector, and pop-up sprinkler head body will do just as well hosting all of the components.

Want to hear what it sounds like? There’s an mp3 clip under the final steps section.


  1. heatgap says:

    This is bad ass! I think I’m actually going to look into this build. The one above is pretty plain (still awesome) and I think there are plenty of things one could do to spruce the look of this instrument up.

    • heatgap says:

      [HAD we need an edit button already!]

      Edit: I don’t think playing in tight spaces with people is going to do much for friendship. Here’s a few places you probably shouldn’t rattle off on your e-bagpipes: car, bus, elevator, the bank, the library…oh I could go on!

  2. jimmy says:

    Five sec. into playing the clip, my wife (in another room) asked “Is that a bagpipe?”

    That’s higher praise than you know… (she usually hates my musical excursions. ;-)

    • Volfram says:

      It sounds a bit too synth to me, but when he got to playing notes it was a reasonable facsimile.

      I might try doing this and see if I can modify the waveform to more closely match a reed instrument.

  3. RandyKC says:

    If the reason pipers march when they play is to get as far away from the noise as possible, then this was made for jogging.

  4. stab3r says:

    that sounds like my dial up connection having a seizure .

  5. t11r says:

    is HaD suggesting people play bagpipe while driving?

  6. Victor says:

    Is he connecting those ‘touch sensors’ directly to input pins of the Arduino? Better not wear a wool sweater while playing with your PVC bagpipe or you’ll fry your microcontroller.
    Otherwise a neat project ;)

  7. Nephiel says:

    I built one of these a while ago, and I was surprised by how responsive the sensors were. Looks like the site and howto were updated very recently.

    Note the drone is disabled by default.

  8. biozz says:

    FINALLY we can connect bagpipes to large speakers to annoy people a mile away :P

  9. echodelta says:

    This was a common hack back ih the days of one transistor projects. Six trimpots and a few parts and hoot mon.

  10. NewCommentor1283 says:

    not bad at all, sounds real. :)

    song was very short but good

    one or two of the higher freq. notes sound distorted, but the other notes sound fine,,, hmm needs slight adjustment

  11. Jason Knight says:

    A pot connected to simple spring-loaded bar could be a fun addition for pretending you’ve got an actual bag, and to allow control over drone(s) and volume.

  12. Microguy says:

    I’d use optical sensors for the pipe, but really, I hate the noise these things make, so there’s no way I’d build one. But optical, way to go.

  13. RandomJandom says:

    This is awesome, always wanted to try playing the bag pipes but figured I’d save my neighbours the punishment. This allows me to try it out for a small investment, and I can learn a lot in the process :)

  14. Kevin Palm says:

    The eChanter pictured aboove is the one that I built, and I can testify as to how easy it is to build! The hardest part for me was the soldering, since the tip I originally had for the soldering iron was a bit too big. Once I got a smaller tip, things went VERY smoothly! One caution, though – If you play the eChanter with dry hands, you’ll hear some static or crackling on the lower couple of notes. Moisturize your hands before playing, and the crackles will go away!

  15. Silicon Skum says:

    Wow, now there’s a blast from the past! My Art teacher at school invented an electronic practice chanter (called silent bagpipes, as I recall) way back in the early 1990’s. He was on the regional news, and was interviewd by the Scottish weatherman Bob Something-or-other (because he was the only Scots bloke working there I guess). :)

    I don’t know if he ever sold it or went into production or anything, I left school shortly after this (final year). He was an interesting guy though!

    Looks like the basic shape still remains the same though – a black box on the end of a chanter. :D

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