[Ania] wrote in to let us know her team had finished the Multixylophoniomnibus and that they have posted an extensive writeup about it. We covered this augmented xylophone when it was still in development at the beginning of this month. Originally they wanted to use mallets wrapped in tinfoil as switches that close when they contact the metal keys, something akin to matchbox cars as a switch. This plan was thwarted when they realized the paint surface insulated the metal keys. At this point they switched to piezo sensors which turned into an odyssey of trial and error to achieve a reliable input for the Arduino to monitor. In the end they got it working with around forty lines of code, interfacing six boxes containing a different type of noisemaker.

See the finished instrument played in the video after the break. Alas, the addition of the piezo sensors do impede the resonance of the xylophone keys, but we still like it! There’s something reminiscent of the beginning of Pink Floyd’s Money when this is played.


17 thoughts on “Multixylophoniomnibus

  1. Just to clarify my previous comment (sorry, it’s early where I live): They should use a reflective coating (tin foil, just the natural shiney paint surface, etc.) on the underside of the keys. A laser (a cheap $1 red one) shines on to that surface, and is reflected onto an LDR or a photoresistor.

    When they key is hit, the beam of the laser will fluctuate a little, this will cause some change in resistance, which can be measured.

    I know that the vibrations will be very small – however I have used a similar technique in a project I have done before to do with making a laser-audio-wall-bouncer-offer-spy-thing. It is workable.

  2. Clearly not much thought was given to this project, there are many ways they could have gracefully detected key hits, at the same time actually justifying the processing power of the Arduino. As I recall, a number of them were mentioned the first time this was covered on HaD, so apparently they aren’t big on constructive input either.

    This looks a lot more like one of those “art” experiments that the MAKE crowd is so in love with.

  3. What I thought this might be before I clicked on it was an amplified xylophone that created a feedback loop between the key, the pickup, and the speaker which could be started by hitting the key or playing the note through the speaker. Hitting it at different velocities or playing the note at different volumes would cause the feedback loops to vary in amplitude.

    It just seemed it might be worth sharing :-P

  4. I love hacked instruments, especially cheap ones.
    the only thing i would have liked to see with this one as a finished project is transparent noise maker containers so you could see the things bouncing around as you hit the bars, like they had with the prototype.

  5. they didnt realize the paint would insulate right away? real cool project but think about it. keep it simple. using a key or block as a conductor is simple, but why not just hot an array of buttons of thats the functionality that you are going for.

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.