Maglev Drummer Needs to Be Seen and Heard

Sometimes Hackaday runs in closed-loop mode: one hacker makes something, we post it, another hacker sees it and makes something else, and we post it, spiraling upward to cooler and cooler hacks. This is one of those times.

One of our favorite junk-sound-artists and musical magicians, [Gijs Gieskes], made this magnetic-levitation, rubber-band, percussive zither thing after seeing our coverage of another magnetic levitation trick. Both of them simply have a Hall sensor controlling a coil, which suspends a magnet in mid-air. It’s a dead-simple circuit that we’ll probably try out as soon as we stop typing.

But [Gijs] took the idea and ran with it. What looks like a paperclip dangles off the magnets, and flails wildly around with its tiny steel arms. These hit a zither made of rubber bands with a bamboo skewer as a bridge, pressing down on a piezo. The rest is cardboard, copper-clad, and some ingenuity. Watch it work in the video embedded below.

What’s fun about this piece is that it’s junk, but it’s animated junk. And it’s got just enough variability and control that it can almost be played intentionally like an instrument. It falls between the cracks, and we like that.

If you want more [Gijs], you can just browse through his website, or check out the incredible TV Flag project, or his fan synth which inspired us to make one of our own (video at the bottom of the post) almost ten years ago now.

13 thoughts on “Maglev Drummer Needs to Be Seen and Heard

    1. Blue Man Group make extensive use of sampled plastic/rubber-like sounds.

      Though the randomness produced by this project lies more into the realm
      of experimental music than the pop by the BMG.

  1. This is just how I tick, but seeing this kind of video on YouTube cheapens the experience. Whenever I see something artistic/experimental I expect it to see it presented to me via Vimeo. Just seeing the Vimeo player present itself sets the preset on my brain to the proper mode.

    I like it, I would love to see the same done with door stopper springs.

    1. Haha! I bought a 3-pack of them when I only needed 2 because I thought they’d be fun for something musical. Was thinking I’d have to make a resonator cavity for it, but a piezo pickup looks like a neat alternative.

  2. You just need to automate it a bit more.
    Great job. on the electronics.
    The sound well if you can automate the arm a bit and even if you put a servo on the up and down and have the magnet rotate on a servo would give you a hole lot more.
    Now Im being picky: you need to add some lasers and rbg leds.
    Still love It.
    Great JOB….

  3. There is one part that reminds me of Strung Out, so nice job. I can’t complain about the ‘drumming’ since this sounds better than my attempts at learning guitar. ;)
    I really like the dead-bug construction and use of a piezo.

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