Keytar Made Out Of A Scanner To Make Even the 80s Jealous

Do any of you stay awake at night agonizing over how the keytar could get even cooler? The 80s are over, so we know none of us do. Yet here we are, [James Cochrane] has gone out and turned a HP ScanJet Keytar for no apparent reason other than he thought it’d be cool. Don’t bring the 80’s back [James], the world is still recovering from the last time.

Kidding aside (except for the part of not bringing the 80s back), the keytar build is simple, but pretty cool. [James] took an Arduino, a MIDI interface, and a stepper motor driver and integrated it into some of the scanner’s original features. The travel that used to run the optics back and forth now produce the sound; the case of the scanner provides the resonance. He uses a sensor to detect when he’s at the end of the scanner’s travel and it instantly reverses to avoid collision.

A off-the-shelf MIDI keyboard acts as the input for the instrument. As you can hear in the video after the break; it’s not the worst sounding instrument in this age of digital music. As a bonus, he has an additional tutorial on making any stepper motor a MIDI device at the end of the video.

If you don’t have an HP ScanJet lying around, but you are up to your ears in surplus Commodore 64s, we’ve got another build you should check out.

11 thoughts on “Keytar Made Out Of A Scanner To Make Even the 80s Jealous

  1. I am deeply offended. Who wouldn’t want to bring the 80’s back?

    I am a digital guy, and the 80’s was the best time for that. The computers and operating systems were simple enough for one person to actually understand. One guy could actually make computer hardware and sell it to the masses (that is what Wozniak did, but I admit that he started in the late 70’s).

    Plus, the music, clothes, and hair were all awesome.

    1. Oh absolutely. I still remember the color codes of the CGA (Color Graphics Adapter) palette. I even always though this song was all about CGA:

      Loving would be easy if your colors were like my dream
      Red, gold and green
      Red, gold and green

  2. Very original, and effective. I wonder if a horn or sound chamber would boost the sound output enough to be worth the added effort to hack those extra parts onto it?

  3. I’ve got a big old Burroughs daisywheel printer in my basement that I rescued from a barn. Wonder how well its giant stepper motors would sing…

    Wouldn’t make a keytar out of it, though.

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