Homemade instruments


These look super cool! @wintercat !
Thank you for sharing.

I am especially intrigued by the contraption in lower right corner that seems to be using pieces of glockenspiel? Can you elaborate a bit on how this (and other pieces) works?

Also: a reel-to-reel tape deck in euro format??? Am I seeing this right?
That’s crazy awesome!


bottom right reminds me of some of graham dunning’s mechanical contraptions

aside from what @laborcamp asked, i’m curious about the blue optical device

and what is the synth in the bottom left corner?


That things is absolutely beautiful. I love the look of it.


@laborcamp, thanks : ]
-no worries…

re: the glockenspiel contraption. Thats an old pic, taken the first day I gathered some bits together. It was was for a gallery show titled: ’ nothing’s useless / resistant obsolescence ’ that a friend pitched to the local gallery -the idea in essence: to use found and scrounged items… older technology and media of different kinds. So this thing -what I tend to think of as a kinetic sculpture of sorts was my contribution to that group show. ( that and collaborating on the other aspects ) -as ever a picture is worth a thousand words -so I’ll try to take some more recents pics / video…
I had this old turntable, a reel to reel tape recorder old mixers and projectors… all this junk… then after we put a call out in the local paper, lots more junk.
In a nutshell it works like a record player with little magnets arranged on the turntable. As it turns they cause the pendulums to swing striking the glockenspiel keys… peizo’s amplify the sound which is fed through a passive mixer into a delay circuit controlled by the inverted lampshade joystick on the other end of the goose neck. -you can arrange the magnets for different patterns / arpeggios and the adjacent ones for " non static presets " where the joystick flit’s and oscillates around the unstable / opposing magnetic fields - altering the output. I borrowed the idea directly from this fella the reel to reel ( aye euro format ) adds a tape delay. Pitch, depth and freeze are controlled by gieke’s HD 01.

-Still in the works is CV control of the turntable’s speed / direction, the same for the reel to reel and a pair of little programable music box contraptions ( this is done with a 4dollar pwm board and Vakpaks from synthrotek ) -there’s some more amplified peizo springs, tines and things, ( like a luminist garden sort of ) and four VCU meter kits from Giekes that should find a space there somewhere…

I quite like that all of the parts ( and " interface elements " ) use circles, therefore it’d be cool to get orca on the arc happening ( sequencing the echophone and some of Gieke’s fan oscillators perhaps… if that design gets revisited… ) -I should really learn more about basic electronics -it’s all just hodge-podge and solving ( occasionally ) a problem if or when it appears. -still thats ok I guess.

– the other pics,

-top is a guitronome… for looping on the fly, prepared guitar, ebow -all stray technologies kits -pretty self explanatory, being able to strum chords, sample and chop up the tails with party van ( or srs’s app that I forget the name of ) so immediately is heaps cool., the touch strip and pressure sensor output midi dada in various ways that can be set by the selectors on the board. the setup is fun yet fragile. Need to rout a proper housing for the grid and attach the strip to the upper curve of the neck.

@glia -the little round glass wave form device is the lens from an old broken slide projector… I had a few tiny 10 dollar screens that happened to fit snuggly… wish it was morel interesting than that, I just liked the old school scope aesthetic…

Lastly, lower left is a pretty rough around the edges briefcase housing two different bleep labs kits, an arduino-piano, a couple early critter and guitari video kits, an early Giekes HSS2 prototype and a collection of dirt mixers…all wired to create switchable feedback loops… -I guess it is an AV synth of sorts, albeit a pretty sketchy one.
The following pic is essentially all the video guts mentioned earlier connected to a six way monitor / switcher that combines the generated output with live security camera feeds and a circuit bent text generator used to create visuals for some live gigs a while ago… -It probably only half qualifies as a homemade instrument… still I thought they at least looked the part.

appreciate the feedback.


a pic of the glockenspiel contraption as it was, that hopefully makes the description make sense.



so cute!
he is really into it…




a ha ha!
it’s all in the EYES!


You need to finish those knobs!


here’s another one – no new concept, but a fun project for me to get started with sequencers :slight_smile: an electro-accoustic drum-machine, made up of 6 wooden stepsequencers (than can run in counterpoint) and a few electrical magnets.

here’s some info
and here’s some videos videos videos


Hey ! what coincidence, i am working more or less on the same thing these days.
I am going the maxuino way + this schematic http://www.instructables.com/id/Controlling-solenoids-with-arduino/.
How are your sequencers working (one arduino in each) ?
What is the schematic for your solenoid triggering ?
How are you preventing the percussion tube to go off ?


hei @chapelierfou – cool, glad to hear that you’re working on something similar.

as for the sequencers: i’ve built them differently. each sequencer is run off of a single arduino-pin. you can achieve this with a decade counter (4017 or something…). should read up on this concept – it’s very handy. also handles resets :slightly_smiling:

i’ll have to check the schamtics of the solenoid. don’t remember… what do you mean with the percussion-tube? you mean the cylinder not popping out of the solenoid? i simply did this with a rubberband. works very well!

edit: arduino actually only handles the conversion of midi-clock to 5V pulses, driving the 4017 CMOS. the sequencers could be run without, if you had any oscillator etc for clocking, thanks to the cmos.


just seen this!


Thanks, i’ll check this out ! (yeah i meant the cylinder)


Ran across this beautiful DIY tape delay consisting of two micro-cassette players (dictaphones I guess) that someone made. Sounds really askew and unique. Documentation including videos here.


Cool topic! There’s some really inspiring stuff in here!
Solenoid-based drum things are definitely something I want to try and build one day myself. The Field Kit is fun, but I really need more of those… and I did not get one of those Dadamachines kits when I could have. Anyway… that will all have to wait.
In the meantime, here’s something I have built in the past:

It’s a circuit-bent Casio SK-1, with a bunch of additions. I have the complete project documentation for download here, for it if anybody wants to know more


Very cool
Looks like quite an elaborate endeavor!
Thank you for sharing,


Hi all,

I would love to hear, see, and read about the DIY instruments and music you are making. Please share photos and sounds made using your creations, interesting projects, and ideas that you are working on. To get the ball rolling, here is a passive matrix mixer I build a few months ago, and a modular MIDI controller from last year.


Modular MIDI controller? I’m very curious about that.