Robot + Trumpet = Sad Trombone.mp3

[Uri Shaked] is really into Latin music. When his interest crescendoed, he bought a trumpet in order to make some energetic tunes of his own. His enthusiasm flagged a bit when he realized just how hard it is to get reliably trumpet-like sounds out of the thing, but he wasn’t about to give up altogether. Geekcon 2018 was approaching, so he thought, why not make a robot that can play the trumpet for me?

He scoured the internet and found that someone else had taken pains 20 years ago to imitate embouchure with a pair of latex lips (think rubber glove fingers filled with water). Another soul had written about measuring air flow with regard to brass instruments. Armed with this info, [Uri] and partners [Ariella] and [Avi] spent a few hours messing around with air pumps, latex, and water and came up with a proof of concept that sounds likeโ€”and [Uri]’s description is spot-onโ€”a broken robotic didgeridoo. It worked, but the sound was choppy.

Fast forward to Geekcon. In a flash of brilliance, [Avi] thought to add capacitance to the equation. He suggested that they use a plastic box as a buffer for air, and it worked. [Ariella] 3D printed some fingers to actuate the valves, but the team ultimately ended up with wooden fingers driven by servos. The robo-trumpet setup lasted just long enough to get a video, and then a servo promptly burned out. Wah wahhhh. Purse your lips and check it out after the break.

If [Uri] ever gets fed up with the thing, he could always turn it into a game controller a la Trumpet Hero.

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Trumpet Hero

[Evilsigntist] combined an old cornet with an old PS2 guitar hero controller to produce the Trumpet Hero. The fragile looking conglomeration really brings a smile to our faces. Just make sure the instrument has already seen the end of its days before drilling holes to mount the various parts.

In the image above you can see that the three valve buttons have been painted to correspond to frets on the original guitar controller. The orange and blue frets are positioned for the left hand to operate. There seems to be a couple of different version because there is a diagram showing a mute in the bell that can be twisted for whammy bar input, but that’s not shown here. Strumming is accomplished by blowing through the mouthpiece, but as you can see in the video after the break, no buzzing is necessary.

Using actual instruments as game inputs is a lot of fun. We always think back to the flute and drum set controllers for Rock Band.

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