Bits on a string

Could it be possible to combine Littlebits wit a normal musical instrument ?
Yes I think so…. :notes:
To experiment with this idea I made a basic three string electrical guitar unit with the possibility to add different bits for different sound effects. The design of this unit is based on a dulcimer.
See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dulcimer.

In this post I like to share with you how I have built this guitar unit and during this project I will post various experimental designs I have in mind.

First about the guitar unit:

This unit is made of a wooden plank (l x w x h 710 x 95 x 28 mm), with three popnails on one side and on the other side I glued a smaller piece of wood with three string tuners.

To guide the strings I used wooden blocks with a small metal wire on top. With these blocks I also created some space underneath the strings to mount the pickup elements for the electrical signal.
I took a few old 24V DC relays I had laying around apart and removed the coils to make these pickup elements.

Underneath each coil I mounted a very small neodymium magnet. Now the vibrating strings on top of the coil influence the magnetic field and generate an electrical signal in the coils. This signal can then be amplified and it can activate the bits to make different sound effects.

Episode 1: the amplifier.

To test the basic sound of this guitar unit I connected the following bits:
USB power – microphone - synth speaker.
The pickup coils were connected in series with the microphone bit.
In the video you can hear the amplified sound with the microphone bit switched in “normal” mode and in “other” mode, the last sound is fully distorted.
The strings were tuned to A, D low and D high. (just a random selection)… :guitar: :musical_score:

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I love this project, @alexpikkert! What can we expect from Episode 2?

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@JackANDJude,
Working on it… Surprise !
@JackANDJude
Teaser:

:innocent:

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Episode 2: the vibes and percussion

See http://littlebits.cc/projects/bits-on-a-string-part-2 for the project.

That’s a strange sound !
In this episode the dulcimer strumming is done with the vibration motor, pulsed by the trigger output of the micro sequencer via the RGB LED. It is motion controlled with a dimmer.

The vibration motor moves back and forth, driven by a servo to be able to touch all three strings. The servo is also motion controlled with a dimmer and pulsed by the same micro sequencer (with only pulse 1 and 3 ON) and a latch.
The servo circuit has a separate power supply to avoid disturbing noises on the MP3 circuit and the amplified string sounds.

The sound signal from the pickup elements is amplified via the echo delay bit and sent to the synth speaker (done for a nicer sound) and it also triggers the MP3 player with a second synth speaker via an inverter bit, loaded with many different short percussion sounds.
The inverter was neccessary to get a solid 5 Volt pulse for the MP3 player.
This design is one out of a zillion possible designs…
That’s it folkes !

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Episode 3: servo strings and percussion

see http://littlebits.cc/projects/bits-on-a-string-part-3 for the project…

In this episode the dulcimer strumming is done with three servos.
Each servo plucks one string and is controlled by the Arduino with a pushbutton.
One push moves the servo left or right to generate just one string sound per click.
When button1 and 2 are pushed simultanous the Arduino plays a short automated song.
All sounds are combined with some nice drumming sounds from the MP3 player, pulsed by output d10 via a protobit. :musical_score:

.
.

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Episode 4: sequencer strings & piano jazz

see http://littlebits.cc/projects/bits-on-a-string-part-4 for the project…

In this episode the dulcimer is again activated with the servos, but now connected to the sequencer. Each servo plucks one string when its sequencer output changes (ON-OFF or OFF-ON). One servo is connected via a latch bit to let it sound different compared to the other strings. The speed is controlled with a dimmer. One sequencer output pulses the MP3 player, loaded with some nice piano jazz music. The microphone bit sends the string sounds from the pickup elements to the synth speaker via the delay bit. Now only one synth speaker is used with a mixer bit for the string sounds and the MP3 sounds. :musical_score:

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Episode 5: string clock chime

see http://littlebits.cc/projects/bits-on-a-string-part-5 for the project…

In this episode the dulcimer is transformed into an alarm chime clock.
The Arduino bit is the heart of the clock, and the sequencer takes care of the chime.
The clock can be set to 4 different times, 10,15,30 and 60 minutes by pressing the buttons on the inputs of the Arduino. When the number bit reaches the set time, the chime sequence starts and the number bit is reset and starts counting again.
The default start time is 10 minutes.

Note:
For the movie the timing in the Arduino program was set to seconds instead of minutes.

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