76-bit Trombones Led By The Big MIDI File

Inspired by the creative genius of Martin Molin of Wintergatan fame, [iSax] set out to create a robotic MIDI-controlled trombone. It takes years for humans to develop the control and technique required to play the trombone well as the tone produced into the mouthpiece (embouchure) is a tricky combination of air pressure, lip tension, airflow, resonance in the mouth, and other sources of complex pressure.

[iSax] gives a thorough walkthrough of the machine, which is powered by two separate sources of air, one for the position of the slide and the other for producing sound. A potentiometer provides feedback on the position of the slide and a servo controls the flow rate into the silicone resonance chamber. The chamber can be tuned via a stepper motor that applies pressure, slightly altering the chamber’s frequency and pressure. An Arduino with Firmata allows the device to controlled easily from any host computer. A detailed writeup in PDF form is on the Hackday.io project page.

As you can imagine, simulating a human mouth is a daunting task and the number of variables meant that [iSax] ended up with something only vaguely trombone-like. While ultimately it didn’t turn out to be the astounding music machine that [iSax] hoped, it did end up being a fun feat of engineering we can appreciate and admire. Progress towards automatic brass instruments seems to be coming slowly as we saw similar results with this robotic trumpet. Maybe someday we’ll have robot brass sections, but not today.

Continue reading “76-bit Trombones Led By The Big MIDI File”

76 Flaming Trombones Led The Big Parade

[Jonathan Crawford] is ready and willing to fire things up with his flaming trombone. A couple of years back his band teacher was going through the storage room triaging instruments. This trombone suffered from a bad case of red rot and would never function well again so [Jonathan] was able to get his hands on it and get to work.

He started by sanding down the instrument and painting it with high-temperature spray paint. Flexible copper tubing intended for an ice maker was used to relocate the propane outlet inside the bell of the instrument. A barbecue igniter, controlled with the player’s left thumb, lights the flame.

The torch that [Jonathan] is using would only allow a small amount of gaseous propane to come out the nozzle. He ended up drilling out the aperture, and using a short piece of vinyl tubing to bridge the gap between the nozzle and the supplementary copper tubing. At full blast this allows liquid propane to escape so be warned.

You can see him demonstrating this indoors in the video after the break. He mentioned to us that the first time he tried this out he set off the smoke detector. You’ve got to be careful when playing with fire, whether it’s a musical instrument, or a wearable flamethrower. So, you know, don’t try this at home. Continue reading “76 Flaming Trombones Led The Big Parade”

Long Arms Required, Electronic Trombone

Sadly, the video above is the only information we were able to find on the “Double Slide Controller” trombone, built by composer Tomás Henriques. As well as, the instrument took first place in the Georgia Tech Center Guthman Musical Instruments Competition. Right in front of a Bluetooth bow for violins, and a circuit bending group from New York, and…wait; it beat out our favorite modified didgeridoo? Better luck next year.