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.

14 thoughts on “Robotic Glockenspiel Crunches “Popcorn”

      1. Normally I don’t make these types of jokes but.. you just said a german should start tearing down borders..

        And now, moving on:
        To thomas: yeah it’s surprising, I think there are just some words that amuse americans and that’s why they are picked up.. Because it are often somewhat complex words that people think are funny to say that get accepted. The brits do it too but sometimes different words than the ones the US goes for.

  1. Here more true than in an orchestra where they are called orchestra bells. But only if sounded on time. Hour, half, and so on.
    Fancy clocks of yore had elaborate playing mechanisms hence the name.
    You will need 2 more mallets to get into jazz styling. I would be happy with the first project, but it’s not as showy.

  2. Nice build. Its a very creative solution the four servo driven hands. It solves the problem of using 32 solonoids. A noticable ‘problem’ is that some keys sound dull, it has to do with the striking position. Its not possible to strike every key in the middle with this setup.

    1. You could rebuild the instrument into 4 halfcircles I suppose. Perhaps retain the old skeleton for storage and make a new one and simply put the pads on that.

      I also think it might improve if the strikers had some more flexible give btw, like human hands do.

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