Overview: We are officially crazy
Animusic is a group that makes great computer animations involving “impossible” instruments playing great music. While considering actuation mechanisms for the RobOrchestra Vibraphone project, somehow we decided it would be a good idea to do something similar to the instrument that takes center stage at 1:07 in Animusic’s “Pipe Dream”:
Right now, 3/8″ diameter stainless steel balls are looking very promising. Mike Ornstein, Dan Shope and I have subconsciously split up the work into 3 sections. Dan is working on the mechanism to take the balls and dispense them onto the keys quickly and with a short reload time. Right now, it appears that this will be accomplished with a group of DC motors. Mike is working on the mechanism to lift the used balls back up and dispense them to queues leading into Dan’s mechanism. This is most likely going to be done with an Archimedes screw and a paintball gun style dispenser. I have been focusing on the structure of the whole mechanism and collecting the dispensed balls and funneling them to Mike’s mechanism.
The biggest problem I am facing with this design is the awkward hole arrangement in the keys. I basically have two very awkward hole lines I need to support for both the naturals and the sharps. A string pulled taut needs to go through the holes in the keys and the supports to hold up the key and let it vibrate naturally. My initial concept involved about $60 of waterjet-cut 1/8″ ABS. Here is a render of this initial design:
This concept was that with angled plates in front of the keys sloping back toward the keys, as well as slopes over top of those angled toward the center, I could funnel all of the ball bearings into a channel between the two sets of keys. Unfortunately it takes up a whole sheet of plastic.
Moving forward, I want to find a way to eliminate all of the unnecessary material in all 32 of those vertical supports. A bar or two mounted along the path of the key mounts could allow me to build much smaller plastic mounts for each key. Look forward to another post with more designs, and watch my friend’s blogs for updates on their portions of the project!