Robotic Glockenspiel Crunches “Popcorn”

[James] sent us a video of his latest creation: a robotic glockenspiel that’s currently set up to play “Popcorn”. It uses eight servos to drive mallets that strike the tone bars with fast, crisp movements. The servos are driven with a 16-channel I²C servo driver and MIDI shield, which are in turn controlled with an Arduino Uno. The previous incarnation of his autoglockenspiel employed solenoids, dowels, and elastic bands.

[Gershon Kingsley]’s 1969 composition for synthesizer “Popcorn” has been covered by many artists over the years, though perhaps the most popular cut was [Hot Butter]’s 1972 release. Check it out after the break, and dig that lovely cable management. We’d love to see [James]’s autoglockenspiel play “Flight of the Bumblebee” next.

If you’re hungry for more electro-acoustic creations, have a gander at [Aaron Sherwood]’s Magnetophone.

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Automatic tubular bells given a MIDI interface too


We’ve got to say it… these tubular bells sound awful! They don’t really have a tight pitch center so they sound really out of tune to us. But we think that’s the failing of the instrument itself and not the work which [Tolaemon] did to automate the instrument.

There are three main parts to his project. The first, which is shown above, adds a hammer for each bell. The hammers are hinged, with one side being pulled by a solenoid in order to strike the bell. The second part of the hack also uses solenoids, dampening the bell’s ability to ring by pressing a felt pad up against the bottom of the tube. The final portion of the project brings it all home by adding MIDI control to the hardware.

The clip after the break gives a good overview of the different features including some preprogrammed playback as well as direct control of the instrument using an electric keyboard. This reminds us of that scratch-built solenoid xylophone.

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Spreading christmas cheer w/ auto parts

The folks over at [Soup], a British marketing agency, thought up this cool project. It’s a set of handbells hooked up to an Arduino, actuated by central locking motors found in car doors. By the look of some pictures, there was also a Lego version. Songs written by users (through the online interface) are placed in the que of a server. Once it’s time for the song to be played, serproxy sends the Arduino an appropriate set of commands for ringing the bells in sequence. All of this happens in the [Soup] office while it is streaming live through a webcam.

We think that this is definitely a great way to use surplus auto parts. After all, not everyone can build helicopters.

It seems as though the bells are down for the moment, or the employees got a bit annoyed at hearing them constantly ring.