Robotic Musical Instrument Design and Construction

Only seats for “spectators” available: Participants will learn the programming and electronics involved in animating mechanical objects using realtime MIDI control and sequencing techniques. By examining physical examples of instruments and artwork, the seminar will explore a practical approach to constructing mechanical musical instruments and animatronic puppets as well as various programming strategies.

Robotic Musical Instrument Design and Construction

Matthew Steinke
Tue, Dec 6/13/20, 6:30pm to 9:30pm
CLASS DESCRIPTION:
Participants will learn the programming and electronics involved in animating mechanical objects using realtime MIDI control and sequencing techniques. By examining physical examples of instruments and artwork, the seminar will explore a practical approach to constructing mechanical musical instruments and animatronic puppets as well as various programming strategies.
Participants will learn basic MIDI programming/recording, electrical and silver soldering, and basic electronics utilizing power transistors and relays. They will be exposed to a variety of mechanisms and actuators, AC/DC solenoids, motors, and lights as well as the functionality of the MTP-7 and the SRV-4. The MTP-7 is a pre-assembled board that allows the real-time MIDI control of multiple switched voltage outputs utilizing MIDI on/off note messages and velocity. The SRV-4 is used to control servos with realtime midi expression. These will be the main interfaces between the computer and the mechanisms we will be manipulating. By using MIDI, participants will learn techniques to perform and record movements as well the plotting of movements over a piano-roll-like timeline on the computer. The main focus of this class will be to build mechanical musical devices which will be programed to be installed in a gallery or to perform with in live musical or theatrical pieces.
Topics will include:
A Brief Presentation/Seminar on Mechanical Music, Automata, Kinetic and Robotic Artworks, Experimental Musical Instruments
Getting The System Working –The MTP-7 and the SRV-4 interfaces, MIDI composition, and Sequencing
Soldering, Basic Electronics, Relays, Switches, Resistors, and Transistor Theory
Where to Order and How to Repurpose Supplies and Components
Construction Techniques and Materials, Mechanical Hammers, Servos, Rotary Plectrums, Solenoid Plectrums, Solenoid Design, Voice Coils and Speaker Drivers, and Basic Musical Instrument Design
MIDI Recording and Programming Techniques for Mechanical Music and Animatronics, MIDI Pulse Width Modulation, Utilizing Program Change and Velocity, Synchronizing Motors and Lights with Sound/Music, Eliminating the “Clank”, Compensating for Mechanical Delay, Designing and Winding Silent Solenoids.
After the participants learn the basic electronic circuits involved in this process and how to use the MTP-7 board, their future electromechanical works can be furthered, combining Max or PD, Micro-controllers, and other MIDI applications.
More about the MTP-7
The MTP-7 has the following features in addition to the common features listed above:
Supplied as a single high quality glass fibre pcb measuring 130 mm x 70 mm for installation inside a musical instrument or other device
Five 3.2mm mounting holes provided on the circuit board
32 outputs (open collector ‘pull-down’), each capable of sinking 500 mA at up to 35 Volts, inductive or resistive load
High quality rising-clamp screw terminal connections provided for easy connection to power supply and output circuits
Expression output gives a voltage proportional to note-on velocity
The price of this unit is £63.00 (UK Pounds), including installation instructions and technical support by e-mail/telephone.

 

MIDI Servo Movement Control
 SRV-4

 

This circuit works in conjunction with dc positional servos of the type popularly used in radio-controlled models to enable the control of MIDI-operated animations.
The following features are provided:
Up to eight servos can be controlled at once
Positional resolution of each servo output is 1 part in 128
Selectable movement range scaling to suit different servo types and applications
Responds to Control Change messages from any standard MIDI data source
Range of Control Change message numbers to respond to can be selected by on-board switches
Can be set to respond to any one of 16 MIDI channels by on-board switches
Four of the servo outputs also have slave on/off digital outputs for operating switched devices
Powered by a single supply in the range 4.5 to 5.5 V dc
Built on a high quality glass fibre PCB measuring 76mm (3in) square
Supplied with comprehensive installation notes
This product is RoHS compliant.
The price of this unit is £31.00 (UK Pounds) including installation instructions and technical support by e-mail/telephone.
Matthew Steinke — http://www.j-omega.co.uk/

Matthew Steinke is a musician, instrument maker, visual artist and animator.  He studied analogue electronics & audio engineering at the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wa.  While in the NW he started the experimental rock band Mocket, the post-wave Satisfact, and the first installment of Octant, his ongoing solo project comprised of hand-built, mechanically driven instruments.  He then moved to Chicago to receive his MFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he was awarded a scholarship to produce robotic sculpture in the Art and Technology department.  He was subsequently awarded the Illinois Arts Council Artist Fellowship in New Media.  Currently residing in Brooklyn, he divides his time between teaching Digital Media, building instruments and performing with the latest version of his robotic band, Octant.
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