Annoy Your Neighbors with MIDI Musical Siren

[Yannick], aka [Gigawipf] brings us this (mostly) musical delicacy: a 3D-printed siren that’s driven by a brushless quadcopter motor, and capable of playing (mostly) any music that you’ve got the MIDI score for. This is a fantastic quickie project for any of you out there with a busted quad, or even some spare parts, and a 3D printer. Despite the apparent level of difficulty, this would actually be a great quickie weekend build.

First stop is Thingiverse, for the Mini Air Raid Siren model. Start that printing and get to work on the electronics. For the MIDI-to-ESC (electronic speed controller) conversion, any Arduino with USB support (ATmega32u4 or ARM boards) will work. The important bit is that you can run the MIDI-USB library. All that remains is a MIDI-to-servo pulse conversion and lookup table. Here’s [Yannick]’s file, but we’re guessing that you’ll want to tune your own siren.

How well does it work? See the videos below. Short notes, as well as note-offs, tax the quad motor’s ability to stop the siren rotor immediately. There’s a nice portamento effect as it ramps up between notes as well. You’ll need to pick your repertoire accordingly.

We have a strange affinity for musical sirens, so we’ll readily admit that [Yannick] had us at the word “spinning”. This is an easy project, with a pretty cool result. As far as we know, there’s only one 3D-printed, MIDI-controlled siren in the world, but it shouldn’t be hard to scale the siren model up or down to make different registers and effects. So who’s up for an entire symphony of these things?

33 thoughts on “Annoy Your Neighbors with MIDI Musical Siren

    1. We would come over and politely ask you to stop the noise, the guns are for target practice and hunting deer.
      If you continued with the noise a complaint with the proper authorities might be in order. But then again, I’m pretty annoying myself, so you would have to blare the noise for hours on end…

  1. [Yannick], aka [Gigawipf] has only just begun to annoy. Work on the clarion next, then the bagpipes. And don’t forget the air horns. All of these should be easy to adapt to MIDI.

  2. I’d like to make a contra-bass siren, but I don’t think it would work like a conventional siren. I think instead of incorporating the modulator into the blower, it would have to have separate blower and modulator. Otherwise the diameter would have to be enormous. But then maybe the modulator could be implemented as a sliding ring that’s geared down from the blower rotor. Just thinking out loud here.

    1. There are infra sound sub woofers that work by rotating a baffle like a throttle plate in an air duct. Two of its four sides are connected by a ring shaped duct with a fan in it, and the front and back of the baffle housing is open to the air. When the baffle rotates the front and back are alternating blowing and sucking at a frequency determined by the rpm of the baffle. They are very loud.

      1. Once there was an article about a fan-subwoofer. It was a ducted fan with pitch-steerable blades, similar to an airplane propeller. The blade pitch was controlled (positive and negative) in the rhythm of the sound, so the fan moved air in or out of the room.

    1. I agree that long notes sound better, but you can always edit the midi file to make notes longer until it sounds good.
      If i would delay them in the hardware notes could overlap while playing and cause all kinds of strange problems and make it sound weird.
      Slightly overlapping notes from the midi stream are already handled and don’t cause problems if you do a “extend all notes x%” in a midi editor.

  3. Symphony is a form of music not an instrument, try organ or chorus. The Russians have done it though. A two word search shows an industrial strength composition. Seems to my memory to have been used in some dadaist French music too. I wonder how fast it can be modulated for a normal vibrato. Oh, could this wail the blues! Could a fast acting flap or butterfly be put in series to give it rests?
    A tuned pair in a third at the right pitch would test your neighbors (tornado and chem-train) response. Like the Brake Light Tester (microwave emitter) you could call it a basement light tester.

    1. I did use a blheli_s esc with active braking but the blheli_s version has some fewer parameters to tweak compared to the atmel version.
      One thing i miss is the closed loop control that some atmel ones had but the silabs runs definetly better in open loop.

  4. Perhaps have a siren with more rotors to it? That would allow it to make different notes with one speed. A servo could then be used to switch between notes. For instance: stack three rotors on top of each other, with 8, 4 and 2 vanes. A servo would then move a tube axially, so that the side openings in the tube would line up with one of the rotors. That would switch between different octaves, meaning that the ramp-up time for long note intervals is much shorter.

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