Servo controlled wine glass plays the music of the angels

There’s a lot of cool stuff brewing on the Hackaday forums. [igor_b] posted a project he’s been working on that uses a servo, motor, wine glass, and a balloon to create a one-glass armonica.

A glass harmonica is a series of nested bowls turned on a spindle that is played by running your finger along the rims of the glasses. They’re very unique sounding instruments and something [igor] decided to emulate using only one glass.

Because the note produced from a wine glass varies with the volume of liquid, [igor]‘s first thought was to use a pump to change the level of the water. He discarded this idea when he realized he could displace water by tying a balloon to a servo.

The rest of the build is a simple 555-based motor driver, a phone app written with GoOSC, and a Teensy dev board. To change the pitch of his instrument, [igor]‘s phone sends a command via WiFi to his computer, which in turn controls the Teensy, servo, and ultimately the level of water in the glass.

It’s a very cool build, but there is a small change in timbre as the water balloon displaces more liquid in the glass. [igor] tried a few other objects – a peach and a plum – but using a balloon filled with water produced the clearest tone.

Now to make a few more of these and connect them to a MIDI keyboard…


  1. David M. says:

    I love this!

    I wonder, if the balloon was filled with sand instead of water, would it still make the quavering sound?

    • igor b. says:

      i think the tremolo effect would be less noticable but it would change timbre of the sound. also, sound is quavering because glass spinning is not perfect and it periodically comes closer to the microphone

  2. Zee says:

    This. This is amazing. Is the tone different than simply filling the same volume teh baloon displaces with water?

    • igor b. says:

      with ballon the tone is slightly dull. filling with water would be the best option but i didn’t know how to do it :)

      • Jeff says:

        Maybe if you attach a syringe filled with a certain amount of water instead of a balloon and attach the syringe to an actuator or a servo connected to a rod to push or pull on the syringe to change the amount of water in the glass. Slowly of course so it won’t splash but I think that would give you a better result. Also for the “finger” I think a ballistics gel mold and baby oil would give you a steadier sound. But this is an incredible project so far.

  3. joeisi says:

    Very cool stuff.

  4. proflt says:

    This is nice. However :) it should calibrate itself or be configured to play correct notes, or as close to possible. That way you can play music with it instead of what is heard in the video. Maybe a bigger glass for more range?

  5. zuul says:

    haha, nice

  6. igor b. says:

    wow! it’s cool to be featured on hackaday :)

  7. Mike1 says:

    555 Motordriver just for the ‘Cred`?

  8. etiennebalit says:

    Really cool !

    You could tune the water volume with a manual pump as used by this setup :

  9. Rick Abbott says:

    What material did you use for the “finger”?

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