Hackaday Prize Entry: Electro-Magnetic Enabled Bagpipes

Bagpipes are an instrument at least a millennia old, the most popular of which, in modern times, is the Great Highland bagpipe. There are other types of bagpipes, some of which have a bellows rather than requiring the player to manually inflate the bag by breathing into it. The advantage of the bellows is that it delivers dry air to the bag and reed (instead of the moist air from the player’s breath) and this dryness means that the instrument stays in tune better and the reed lasts longer.

[TegwynTwmffat] has built his own Irish uilleann pipes, (one of the types that use a bellows) using a carbon steel chanter (the part with the finger holes) and a steel reed. The reed vibrates and a pickup is used to convert this vibration into an electric signal, similar to the way a guitar pickup converts a vibrating string into an electric signal. This means that the signal from [Tegwyn]’s pipes can be sent to an amplifier. It also means that the signal can be processed the same way as the signal from an electric guitar – through distortion, flanger, wah, or delay pedals, for example.

[Tegwyn] has put up a drawing of the chanter showing dimensions and locations of the holes and has posted a couple of songs so you can hear the pipe in action. The first has the pipes without any effects on them, the second with effects. The comments for the second say that there are no electric guitars in the song – it’s all the pipes! Bagpipes seem to be a (relatively) popular instrument to hack and we’ve seen a couple of them over the years, such as this one made from duct tape, and this one – an electronic version.

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Duct Tape Bagpipes

Duct Tape Bagpipes

Looking to build your own instrument out of plumbing and tape? [Scott] made his own set of Membrane Bagpipes out of PVC pipes, a plastic bag, and duct tape.

Bagpipes are made out of a few parts. The drones are pipes that are tuned to play a single note. They are tuned by the fixed length of the pipe. The chanter is a tube with finger holes. This lets you play various notes depending on which holes you cover. The blowpipe is used to fill the bag with air that will pass through the membranes on the drones and chanter. Finally, there’s the bag which stores air.

[Scott]’s build uses PVC for the drones and chanter. The membranes are made out of cut up bits of plastic bags. Some crafty duct tape work makes up the bag, and seals it on to the various parts. A check valve is used to stop warm, duct tape flavoured air from blowing back into your mouth.

It’s pretty amazing what people can do with a few rolls of duct tape. The pipes aren’t exactly in tune, but they certainly work. Check out a video of them in action after the break.

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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.

[audio http://www.echanter.com/marine-corps-hymn.mp3]