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.

25 thoughts on “Electronic bag pipes need no bag and use only 1 pipe

  1. 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.

    1. [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. 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. ;-)

    1. 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. 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 ;)

    1. I was thinking the same. If I was going to build this I’d use standard micro push buttons, they’re about the same size.

      The synthesis is quite impressive in that it definitely sounds somewhat like bagpipes.

      1. Hardware-wise, it doesn’t get much simpler than a single bare wire. Using buttons or switches instead of touch sensors may simplify the code, but also makes it a bit harder to build and play.

  4. 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.

    1. I saw a metal band in concert that uses bagpipes in most of their songs. At one point the amplification on the bagpipes went out mid song. It did not make a significant difference.

      Bagpipes are metal.

  5. 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

  6. 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.

  7. 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 :)

  8. 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!

  9. 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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