Automated Harmonica Plays Simple Tunes


It seems that nearly everything is automated these days. Everywhere you look, people are being removed from processes in order to make them more efficient and less prone to mistakes. [Jon] however, saw one process that automation has yet to touch in a significant way – playing the harmonica.

He constructed a harmonica-playing machine that can play a handful of simple songs with a few button presses. The machine was constructed using three PIC controllers, an air compressor, and a pair of harmonicas. A master PIC controller manages the whole operation, taking input from the PIC driving LCD, then handing off playing instructions to the PIC that manages the harmonicas.

Once the machine is started and a song is selected, the machine plays away, prompting for a new song once it has finished. The machine doesn’t quite play the harmonica like a human does, however. The reeds of one harmonica were reversed so that the player only needs to blow air, rather than require a vacuum to provide suction for the drawing motion typically used in harmonica playing.

As you can see in this video, the rig works decently, though it probably needs a bit more work to achieve that “human” feel.

[Thanks, Ben]