Well-Loved Toy Turned Into Robotic Glockenspiel

If there’s a happier word ever imported into the English language than “Glockenspiel”, we’re not sure what it is. And controlling said instrument with a bunch of servos and an Arduino makes us just as happy.

When [Leon van den Beukel] found a toy glockenspiel in a thrift store, he knew what had to be done – Arduinofy it. His first attempt was a single hammer on a pair of gimballed servos, which worked except for the poor sound quality coming from the well-loved toy. The fact that only one note at a time was possible was probably the inspiration for version two, which saw the tone bars removed from the original base, cleaned of their somewhat garish paint, and affixed to a new soundboard. The improved instrument was then outfitted with eight servos, one for each note, each with a 3D-printed arm and wooden mallet. An Arduino runs the servos, and an Android app controls the instrument via Bluetooth, because who doesn’t want to control an electronic glockenspiel with a smartphone app? The video below shows that it works pretty well, even if a few notes need some adjustment. And we don’t even find the servo noise that distracting.

True, we’ve featured somewhat more accomplished robotic glockenspielists before, but this build’s simplicity has a charm of its own.

11 thoughts on “Well-Loved Toy Turned Into Robotic Glockenspiel

    1. Indeed, it is – like all other instruments – a beautiful piece.
      I like automation too, but acoustic instruments rebuild to replace the musician, I don’t know.
      Its a beautiful build though, and the builder will surely have learned from it.

  1. I am BD594 the builder of the 4 arm robot glockenspiel. I like where Leon van den Beukel was going with the rotating servo with another servo used for striking the mallet however the Arduino is lousy at handling any number of servos. Too many will cause jerky motions for each servo. If he incorporated the Adafruit 16-Channel 12-bit PWM/Servo Driver he would of been successful. I hope he doesn’t mind me copying his hammer design because his glockenspiel sounds a lot warmer than mine. Great job!

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