A unique experience for each user.

 

We were given the task to design and engineer an electromechanical machine that generates sound by integrating machine elements, sound design and technology.

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Ideation

We used tools such as brainstorming sessions, mood boards and idea generation to uncover our creative sides and maximise the concept exploration.

We quickly discovered that we wanted to create a fun installation the user would interact with. Our vision became to combine computing, electronics, and mechanics to give each user a unique experience and different outputs from time to time.

 

DESIGN PROCESS

We chose to document our design process by filming our work from the early prototyping stages all the way to the final design.

As the clip shows, low fidelity prototypes showing proof-of-concept were continuously iterated and redefined before coming together in the final design.

 

 
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Mechanisms

We developed two main mechanisms for hitting the percussion instruments, one for the snare drum and one for the base drum, each actuated by a small solenoid motor.  

The mechanisms were first prototyped in low-fidelity, using cardboard, plywood and string. Basic CADs where then created, and SolidWorks motion studies was used to define their dimensions. Parts and links were laser cut and iterated, before the final mechanisms were assembled. 

 

CIRCUITRY

Circuits for the solenoids were constructed, including a diode to eliminate flyback and a transistor to separate the solenoid power supply from the RPi. These components were selected dependent on what was available and best suited to the voltage required by the solenoids. The diagrams below show the various circuit used to control the bass drum, the snare drum and the cymbal. 

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Controller & Code

The controller works similarly to a step sequencer. The three horizontal rows each represent a drum and the four vertical columns represent the four counts. The user can select the preferred combinations of drums and counts to create variations of unique drum beat.

The python code for the BMIC ran on a Raspberry Pi. We first wrote a program for one row of the controller and tested this with a simplified breadboard prototype. We then added the rest of the rows and expanded the code to work for all four.

We chose to keep the controller open to show the somewhat complicated wiring for the Raspberry Pi.

 

Final design

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Please note that this was a group project and not my sole work.
Fellow team members were Tilly Supple, Carla Urbano, and Bea Lopez.