Mechano-Robotic Flute Made From An Old Shotgun

If you take an object and turn it into something else, does that constitute a hack?  Can a musical robot call to question the ethics of firearms exports? If you take a disabled shotgun and turn it into a flute, does it become an art piece? Deep questions indeed — and deliberately posed by [Constantine Zlatev] along with his collaborators [Kostadin Ilov] and [Velina Ruseva].

The Last Gun — a mechano-robotic flute, as [Zlatev] calls it — is built from recovered industrial parts, played using compressed air, and controlled by an Arduino and Raspberry Pi. After graphing the annual arms exports from the United States, the installation plays a mournful tune for each year that they rise, and a jubilant theme for each year they fall.

While The Last Gun appears to be a modified and improved over the previous version — which looks somewhat like a mad engineer’s harp — details are sadly scant on the machining and build processes. However, left to their own devices, one can expect to see many more mechanically musical projects in this team’s future — wherein the actuating of servos pluck at the hearts and minds of its participants.

If instead you’re keen on a jam session with a more humanoid robot, that’s also an option.

[Thanks for the tip, Itay!]

35 thoughts on “Mechano-Robotic Flute Made From An Old Shotgun

    1. It’s not out of tune however it is not being blown properly. A human player varies the air pressure slightly with the note being sounded to moderate the harshness we hear as some note are overblown, and some under blown.

    1. From both the article & the blog it sounds as though they are not the ones that demilled this particular firearm so your anger is misplaced. Even so this doesn’t look to be particularly collectible, unless I’m missing something.

      1. it is a deactivated weapon but this is a museum quality firearm that showcases craftsmanship from the early 1900’s. this was hand fitted, soldered, and from the quick view of the action seems to showcase some beautiful scrawl work. alot of love, time, and energy went into that piece, and in a months time will unfortunately end up in a dumpster somewhere. “art” like this that has political motives rarely lasts long in a gallery space from a ridiculous installation like this. it is an example of someones petty attempts to garner an audience. its not beautiful, it does not invoke a foreign idea. its garbage it was made to perpetuate the agenda of a person. not to make people feel. you cant even appreciate it from a mechanical standpoint because he has unabashedly ham-fisted this together. for god sakes he couldn’t be bothered to run hardlines for the air? amateur…

        1. While I agree the piece is silly, I’m not so sure looking at the linked page that it was made from a shotgun that was remarkable in any way. I see no scrollwork on it, only sings of the sort of corrosion one finds on neglected firearms and the stock looks like something one would find on a catalog item from the Fifties or Sixties. It was not a high-value weapon.

          1. this appears to be a Beretta model 626 1930’s ish mfg, a highly collectible shotgun, usually goes for around 2 grand at auction when in this poor of state id feel better if he found some piece of crap century arms coach gun instead, usually can be had for less than 300

          2. @Philosoraptor
            I don’t think so, the selector lever on the installation piece has a slotted screw holding it on, a feature lacking on every 626 picture I can find. It’s also lacking the typical makers mark & gauge stamping on the chamber.

          3. Agree. No weld line on the barrel (where the shell chamber meets the rest of the barrel) suggests its a more modern design. The only identifiable part I see is the screw at the pivot point of the barrel release lever which suggests its more than likely a Baikal.

          4. Very much doubt he’d bother spending a lot of money on a collectable shotgun for this. Especially given how plentiful guns are in the US. Don’t they give them out as change at Walmart or something?

        2. If you think pneumatic tubing automatically makes something ham-fisted, then there are a whole lot of semiconductor fabs that are ham-fisted together. It’s like saying someone should have run busbar instead of wires. In some applications, sure, but not this one.

        3. I spent a couple of dozen minutes talking to the creators of this thing, at a Maker Faire in San Mateo a few years ago. The shotgun was thoroughly demilled (deactivated, non-firing). It’s been around since at least 2012.

          While I was standing there talking with them (which was hard: they had been sited in the “dark” room at the Faire, where it was all LEDs and Persistence of Vision and inflated stuff, and it was loud), 3 or 4 children ran individually up to the display, and the *very first* thing they did was wrap their little hands around the stock and start jerking the trigger.

          I felt something: it was bloodchilling.

  1. and this is why gun collectors hate this kind of thing, it’s even worse with all the star wars fans taking real c96 mausers and chopping them up to make han’s blaster.

  2. Flute or whistle? Actually it’s an organ pipe (two) that has a French invention called a brake which alters the smooth sound of the flute tone and breaks up the air stream to cause a lot of harmonics into the tone, sort of like a fuzz box. This is the first time I have seen this in a holed flute. This causes what is called in organ terms “string tone”, the best examples can sound like bowed cello. The high note of the scale is off but sounds like it could be a rustic bagpipe scale of the east Europe-Urals region, otherwise the bracket may have been put on first and the hole was longer-flat than need be. The flutes aren’t used in a duet mode but to alternately space the mechs and pads, too bad.

  3. Interesting concept artistically, and much better generated music than many installations.
    Shame about the very loud solenoids; a common fault with installations, the solenoids end up louder and more percussive than the music, spoiling the music itself. Not sure why no one thinks to dampen the noise of them, or select an alternative quieter mechanism.
    Also, I agree, one note is out. I’m guessing the hole was drilled in the wrong place, and it’s very difficult to fix.
    But overall, interesting artwork. And interesting choice to use arms exports rather than gun deaths. I guess it gives a more interesting graph?

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