HackPrinceton: Piano Stairs!

princeton piano

It was Hack.Princeton this weekend and [Bonnie] and [Erica] threw together this great interactive portable piano!

The setup is very simple using six LED flashlights, and six photoresistors. An Arduino Uno reads in the values from the photoresistors and parses them to a nearby Raspberry Pi which then creates the sounds. The system even automatically calibrates itself when turned on, adjusting to the ambient light conditions. They made the project for the Hackathon and after a short scare of having to move it to another staircase for the demo, they took home 2nd place in the hardware category!

Stick around after the break to see it in action — this would make a great school project to get kids interested in hacking!

Looking for more piano hacks? How about a Banana Piano? No? What about a pair of gloves with no physical piano? Or maybe one written down on paper with a pencil?


  1. Freddy says:

    Really really cool, but it’s a lawsuit waiting to happen.

  2. Jan says:

    I like it :-) I know what would also be fun using an Ultrasonic Sensor‎ changing the pitch by the depth you step like the floor in despicable me 2 ;-)

  3. mistahdoom says:

    Related thing that happened at Hack.Princeton: “Please don’t sleep lying down.” Apparently they hadn’t gotten all the permissions they thought they had. As such, there was no arrangement for sleeping areas and to keep up appearances nobody was allowed to sleep lying down.


  4. ejonesss says:

    the university will be quick to shut this down due to fire escape safety.

  5. bonnie says:

    Thanks all! :) And yeah, the university might not like it too much, but hey…that’s why it’s portable!

  6. bguthro says:

    The Boston Museum of Science has had one of these for as long as I can remember.
    I don’t see it as too much of a liability issue…

    • Bonnie says:

      You might not, but this is the university that won’t let us put coat hooks or posters on our bedroom doors because we might forget that they’re a “means of egress.” (I’m completely serious.)

      • Blue Footed Booby says:

        That’s the reason they give but that doesn’t mean it’s the real reason. A lot of times university admins will tell staff to tell students to do/not do something but not say why, so staff will take a wild-ass guess at the reason. Other times they just make up a reason pertaining to fire code or something like that, assuming students will be less likely to completely ignore fire code than something like “we’re tired of repairing holes in doors.”

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 96,425 other followers