Is there no occupation safe from the scourge of robotic replacement? First it was the automobile assemblers, then fast food workers, and now it’s the — mandolin players?
Probably not, unless [Clayton Darwin]’s mandolin playing pluck-bot has anything to say about it. The pick-wielding delta-ish robot can be seen in action in the video below, plucking out the iconic opening measures of that 70s prom-theme favorite, “Colour My World.” The robot consists of two stepper motors connected to a hinged wooden arm by two pushrods. We had to slow the video down to catch the motion, but it looks like [Clayton] has worked out the kinematics so that the pick can be positioned in front of any of the mandolin’s eight strings. A quick move of the lower stepper then flicks the pick across a string and plucks it. [Clayton] goes into some detail about how he built the motion-control part in an earlier video; he also proves that steppers are better musicians than we’ll ever be with a little “Axel F” break.
It’s only a beginning, of course, but the complexity of the kinematics just goes to show how simple playing an instrument isn’t. Unless, of course, you unleash an endless waterfall of marbles on the problem.