The soul of a rock band is its rhythm section, usually consisting of a drummer and bass player. If you don’t believe that, try listening to a band where these two can’t keep proper time. Bands can often get away with sloppy guitars and vocals (this is how punk became a genre), but without that foundation you’ll be hard pressed to score any gigs at all. Unfortunately drums are bulky and expensive, and good drummers hard to find, so if you’re an aspiring bassist looking to practice laying down a solid groove on your own check out this drum machine designed by [Duncan McIntyre].
The drum machine is designed to be as user-friendly as possible for someone who is actively playing another instrument, which means all tactile inputs and no touch screens. Several rows of buttons across the top select the drum sounds for the sequencer and each column corresponds to the various beats, allowing custom patterns to be selected and changed rapidly. There are several other controls for volume and tempo, and since it’s based on MIDI using the VS1053 chip and uses an STM32 microcontroller it’s easily configurable and can be quickly interfaced with other machines as well.
For anyone who wants to build their own, all of the circuit schematics and code are available on GitHub. If you have an aversion to digital equipment, though, take a look at this drum machine that produces its rhythms using circuits that are completely analog.
Continue reading “Beat Backing Box For Bassists” →
Playing music as part of a group typically requires that not only are all of the instruments tuned to each other, but also that the musicians play in a specific key. For some musicians, like pianists and percussionists, this is not terribly difficult as their instruments are easy to play in any key. At the other end of the spectrum would be the diatonic harmonica, which is physically capable of playing in a single key only. Other orchestral instruments, on the other hand, are typically made for a specific key but can transpose into other keys with some effort. But, if you have 3D printed your instrument like this bass clarinet from [Jared], then you can build it to be in whichever key you’d like.
The bass clarinet is typically an instrument that comes in the key of B flat, but [Jered] wanted one that was a minor third lower. Building a traditional clarinet is not exactly the easiest process, so he turned to his 3D printer. In order to get the instrument working with the plastic parts, he had to make a lot of the levers and keys much larger than the metal versions on a standard instrument, and he made a number of design changes to some of the ways the keys are pressed. Most of his changes simply revert back to clarinet designs from the past, and it’s interesting to see how simpler designs from earlier time periods lend themselves to additive manufacturing.
While [Jared] claims that the two instruments have slightly different tones, our amateur ears have a hard time discerning the difference. He does use a standard clarinet bell but other than that it’s impressive how similar the 3D printed version sounds to the genuine article. As to why it’s keyed differently than the standard, [Jared] points out that it’s just interesting to try new things, and his 3D printer lets him do that. We’d be happy to have another instrument in our 3D printed orchestra, too.
Continue reading “3D Printing The Key To A Bass Clarinet” →
Surely we’ve all played some bass riffs on a stretched-out rubber band before, right? [Nicolas Bras] found that the ultimate musical rubber bands are bungee cords, and used seven of them to build a double-bass zither that can be plucked or struck with drumsticks. Be sure to check it out in the build/demo video after the break.
[Nicolas] is what you might call a hardware store hacker. This is not his first instrumental rodeo by far; in fact, he has spent the last 15 years building instruments from stuff like PVC and other commonly-available items.
One thing in this build that’s not so commonly available is the large sound box [Nicolas] built to strap the bungee cords across. He also made custom bridges for the bungees that are topped with triangular wood, which makes them look like little row houses.
In order to actually play the thing, [Nicolas] arranged the row houses in a 2-point bridge system for dual-note strings, which sound good between the bridges and the bungee hooks, but not so much between the bridges themselves. Overall, the zither has a great, mellow sound no matter how he plays it, and we just might have to string one of these up ourselves.
Not a strings person? Then you might be sated by [Nicolas]’ PVC pipes, which play “Popcorn” perfectly.
Continue reading “Bungee-Corded Bass Zither Really Slaps” →
[Jake_Of_All_Trades] wanted to take up a new drumming hobby, but he didn’t want to punish his neighbors in the process. He started considering an electric drum kit which would allow him to practice silently but still get some semblance of the real drumming experience.
Unfortunately, electric drum kits are pretty expensive compared to their acoustic counterparts, so buying an electric kit was a bit out of the question. So, like any good hacker, he decided to make his own.
He found a pretty cheap acoustic drum kit on Craigslist and decided to convert it to electric. He thought this would be a perfect opportunity to learn more about electric drum kits in general and would allow him to do as much tweaking as he wanted to in order to personalize his experience. He also figured this would be a great way to get the best of both worlds. He could get an electric kit to practice whenever he wanted without disturbing neighbors and he could easily convert back to acoustic when needed.
First, he had to do a bit of restorative work with the cheap acoustic kit he found on eBay since it was pretty worn. Then, he decided to convert the drum heads to electric using two-ply mesh drum heads made from heavy-duty fiberglass screen mesh. The fiberglass screen mesh was cheap and easy to replace in the event he needed to make repairs. He added drum and cymbal triggers with his own DIY mechanism using a piezoelectric element, similar to another hack we’ve seen. These little sensors are great for converting mechanical to electrical energy and can feed directly into a GPIO to detect when the drum or cymbal was struck. The electrical signal is then interpreted by an on-board signal processing module.
All he needed were some headphones or a small amplifier and he was good to go! Cool hack [Jake_Of_All_Trades]!
While you’re here, check out some of our best DIY musical projects over the years.
A visit to the hardware hacking area of the recent Hacker Hotel hacker camp in the Netherlands would bring plenty of interesting pieces of hardware to delight the eye. Among them though was one to delight the ear, and on hearing it we asked whether its creator could put it online so we could share it with you. [XDr4g0nX]’s bass guitar is 3D printed, and while it still contains some non-3D-printed parts it’s still a very effective musical instrument.
This is not the first model he’s produced, he told us, an earlier guitar was entirely 3D-printed but proved not to be rigid enough. Tuning such an instrument merely resulted in its bowing out of shape and becoming unplayable as well as out of tune. This one has hefty steel bars for rigidity, though it uses a Yamaha neck rather than 3D-printing the whole instrument. The main body of the instrument has to be printed in multiple parts and epoxied together, which he’s done without some of the ugly seams that sometimes disfigure prints of this nature.
Having heard it, we’d be hard pressed to tell it wasn’t a more traditional guitar, but then again since people have made guitars from all kinds of scrap it’s not the first home build we’ve encountered.
No drummer? No problem! With a little ingenuity, you can stuff the essentials of a drum kit into a box, and automate your rhythm section.
Mind you, [Franco Molina]’s “DrumCube” doesn’t quite have the flash of a human drummer, but it does keep a steady beat and has a charm of its own. The drum machine is mostly mechanical, reminding us somewhat of the Wintergatan Marble Machine which is as captivating to watch as it is to hear. The DrumCube has a snare drum played by two servo-controlled sticks, a kick drum using foam waggled back and forth between two piezo transducers hooked to a low-pass filter, and a reverse-biased transistor white noise generator used for the hi-hat. Sadly, the large gear appears to be just for show. An Arduino runs everything and makes sure the mechanical drum hits are synced to the electronic cymbals, which was no mean feat.
The video below shows it in action accompanying [Franco] on his guitar, and it looks as good as it sounds. Prefer a more compact, all-electronic drum kit? Here’s one that fits in your pocket.
Continue reading “Play To The Beat Of This Robotic Drummer In A Box” →
Give a man a fishing lure, and he catches fish until he loses the lure. Give a fisherman a 3D-printer, and he can print all the fishing lures he wants, especially replicas of those that are too valuable to actually use.
It may seem strange that some people collect fishing lures rather than use them, but when you look at [Hunter]’s collection, it’s easy to see why. Lures can be very artistic, and the Heddon River Runts in his collection are things of beauty and highly prized. They’re also highly effective at convincing fish to commit suicide, so rather than risk the originals, he and his dad 3D-printed replicas.
After modeling the body of the lure in Blender, they modified it with air pockets for buoyancy and located holes for attaching the treble hooks and lip spoon, which was fabricated from a scrap of brass from a rifle casing. The finished lure lacks the painted details and some of the charm of the original River Runt, but it has something Mr. Heddon couldn’t dream of in 1933 when he introduced it — it glows in the dark, thanks to the phosphorescent PLA filament used. That seems to be irresistible to the bass, who hit the lure so often that they got sick of taking pictures. See it in action in the video below.
[Hunter] and his dad have been busy exploring what 3D printing can do, replicating all sorts of Heddon lures. They’ve even got plans to design and print their own lures. But maybe archery is more your sportsman thing than fishing, in which case this PVC pipe compound bow or a recurve bow from skis would be something to check out.
Continue reading “3D-Printing Saves Collectible Lures From A Fishy Ending” →