MAKE Newsletter for September 28, 2007

Make a mellotron out of walkmans - Weekend Projects Podcast, MAKE NYC & Handmade music night, Instant thumb piano, Make a set screw lamellaphone, Make simple but folk instruments, eDrum - DIY electronic drum controller, and MIDI Arduinophone.


MAKE NYC had their recent Handmade Music Night and it was a jam-packed blast! This week, Bre's also got a great Weekend Project video, showing you how to recycle your old cassette-playing walkman and turn it into a mellotron, an instrument that uses taped audio through a keyboard interface. I've also grabbed some of the latest music projects we've featured on the MAKE blog. So what are you waiting for? Go make some music!

Phillip Torrone
Senior Editor, MAKE magazine

Scion Presents Craft My Ride: Car Accessory Design Competition

From the MAKE Blog

Make a mellotron out of walkmans - Weekend Projects Podcast

mp4 | hd-appletv | youtube | blip | itunes | pdf coming saturday
This week Eric Beug joins me this week to make a musical instrument out of walkmans. The mellotron is an instrument that uses taped audio through a keyboard interface. Finding inspiration in Mike Walters' Melloman, we hacked together a simple circuit to trigger loops of tape to make a super simple sampler. We had originally thought to use getlofi's parallel port sequencer, but ended up going with the arduino instead. I'll have the pdf, including the program that goes on the arduino, available for download Saturday. - Subscribe Link We got the walkmans for two bucks apiece on the west end of Canal Street in New York City and there were still a lot left there.! If you need an arduino, we sell them now in the Make: Store - Link

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MAKE NYC & Handmade music night! JAM PACKED!!

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The first ever MAKE NYC meeting was amazing - Ryan and Matt did a great job with the 555 timer session, the slides are here. We then all headed up to ETSY for the Create Digital Music, ETSY & MAKE Handmade music night - WOW! What a turn out, thank you everyone! Here are the first batch of photos, enjoy! Link.

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Instant thumb piano - HOW TO - Make a set screw lamellaphone

RP writes -
This is a method to quickly and easily make a musical instrument capable of melodic percussion and noise experimentation. The thumb piano, known as a kalimba or mbira and by many other names, is a lamellaphone that uses plucked prongs called tongues, keys or tines to generate acoustic vibrations. The length of the tine determines the pitch. Generally, the thumb piano uses some kind of mechanism to create a great deal of pressure to anchor the tines across 2 bridges which allows the free lengths of the tines room to vibrate. The tines are usually of the same material and gauge (thickness) to ensure consistency so the pressure is distributed equally holding everything in place and in tune. The method shown here is simplified and wonderfully versatile. It allows the use of more fragile, delicate, and unusual materials for the body of the instrument, and it provides a way to use oddly shaped tines of different materials at the same time while permitting the tines to be swapped out and tuned with ease. There are interesting possibilities here: a simple armature or jig that becomes a tool with which to investigate the sound that different materials make - how they vibrate, how they resonate and how different combinations of factors can change the sound quality. Experiment and explore and find configurations that work for you.
Instant thumb piano - HOW TO - Make a set screw lamellaphone - Link.

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HOW TO - Make simple but nice sounding/playing folk instruments

John writes -
I came across a link to this website in the comments of another blog. This site includes instructions for building tons of musical instruments including bagpipes, banjos, hurdy gurdys, hang drums, and many others. He also has some great videos on youtube which demonstrate some of his homemade instruments.
HOW TO - Make simple but nice sounding/playing folk instruments - Link.

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eDrum - DIY electronic drum controller

Edrum Wpads
Wow, made an awesome "eDrum" - A DIY electronic drum controller. Source and schematics included! - Link.

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MIDI Arduinophone

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Dingolishious writes -
Inspired by MAKE and the Stylophone my first non blinkey light Arduino project. It is a 1 octave midi keyboard. The keyboard is etched circuit board wired up to the Ardunio using the pull up resistors on the board. The stylus is ground. Touch the note with the stylus and it send midi opt code out of the Arduino serial pin. The midi port is wired right into the serial, ground and +5. Not to spec but it works. If you didn't want to buy a synth for the project you can use the USB to control Pure Data software synths or put a little speaker on a PWM pin and make some square wave sounds (very much like the original stylophone). Code, more details and other MIDI projects to come!
MIDI Arduinophone - Link.

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