Singing Fish Nails Sea Shanty Audition

The Big Mouth Billy Bass and other singing fish were a scourge first delivered to us in the late 90s. [Kevin Heckart] has been teaching them to sing new songs without the tinny sound quality and hokey folk tunes. For this, he must be applauded.

A Teensy 4.1 or Teensy 3.2 is used to power [Kevin]’s various singing fish builds. There are two motors inside a singing fish, typically — one motor to pivot the fish’s body, and one to open and close the mouth. Hook these up to a motor driver, and command that with the Teensy, and you’re up and running. To sync the fish with the music, MIDI data is sent to the Teensy over USB. The Teensy takes in note data and uses this to command the motors to make the fish appear to sing along.

The tutorial linked above is a great way to learn how the hack was achieved. However, the real money is in the performance. A video of [Kevin]’s fishy chorus performing the famous Wellerman sea shanty has over 50 million views on YouTube and he’s collected over 26 million likes on Tiktok.

Sometimes the simple hacks are the ones that bring the most joy. Video after the break.

[Thanks to Keith for the tip!]

6 thoughts on “Singing Fish Nails Sea Shanty Audition

  1. Any word on how that “simple hack” out in the desert is faring after 3½ years? Toto’s finest work still getting denigrated by an “art” installation?

    I would say gutting and re-stuffing of those novelty Billy Bass toys is a far greater hack.

  2. He could have perhaps actually had bright enough lighting in the video to show what he was doing, and gone in to more detail as to how the data used to trigger motions would be extracted from an arbitrary audio stream.

    Also, he could easily sell a fish with a 3.5mm jack, able to act as a speaker to play any music supplied to it so lng as it had an internal circuit to extract motion commands from the audio stream in real time, without any copyright concerns, he’d be selling an audio device, not anything preloaded with specific songs.

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.