beetbox :: organic musical instrument

BeetBox from Scott Garner on Vimeo.

Scott Garner, a student at NYU-ITP, created this wonderful musical instrument where the drums are actual beets. Here’s Scott’s description of the project:

The BeetBox is primarily an exploration of perspective and expectations. I’m particularly interested in creating complex technical interactions in which the technology is invisible—both in the sense that the interaction is extremely simple and in the literal sense that no electronic components can be seen.

The enclosure was created from .5″x8″ poplar boards, which I cut to size and finished using various hand and power tools. I used a router for both the edge details and for grooves in which to conceal the wires, and a drill press to create the speaker grill and to bore holes for the beets with a hole saw. I then stained the wood and, after assembly with wood glue and a nail gun, sealed the enclosure with polyurethane.

Touch sensing is handled by an MPR121 Capacitive Touch Sensor from SparkFun, for which I ported existing Arduino code to Python. This board communicates with a Python script on a Raspberry Pi via I2C. The script watches for new touches and triggers drum samples using pygame. Audio from the Pi’s line out is run through a small amplifier I built using an LM386, which is based on a circuit straight from the data sheet. The amp is connected to a salvaged speaker mounted under the holes in the lid.

Source code for the BeetBox is viewable on GitHub.

Check out Scott’s website for more beautiful and fun projects such as the Heart on Your Sleeve and the Paper Star.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *