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Creating an electronic instrument

Discussion in 'General Electronics Discussion' started by Smithy49, Jul 18, 2011.

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  1. Smithy49

    Smithy49

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    Jul 14, 2011
    Hi guys,

    as you may or may not know, I play the bagpipes in a pipe band and it is something I really enjoy doing.

    However, one downside is clearly the volume of the instrument - I can't practice late at night, for example.

    One solution of this is to create an electronic version of the bagpipes known as an electronic chanter. This is basically a set of bagpipes without drones or a bag - just the pipe which you play the notes.

    I'm considering building one myself, just out of curiosity, but I have a few questions before I begin.

    1. I'm not planning to make the sound produced sound like bagpipes - just for simplicity, I probably use some astable circuit producing square waves at different frequencies to simulate the different notes. Would I be able to use a 555 IC, linked to different preset pots. to 'tune' the instrument?

    2. If I'm wanting a drone (ie more than one tone at the same time), I will need a seperate astable section for each. Is this correct?

    3. With regards to re-creating the holes to create the melody - could i use two small pads which when bridged by a finger or thumb, complete the circuit? Perhaps using a darlington pair to increase sensitivity? I'm thinking that a mechanical switch would be too clumsy. Does anyone have any other suggestions?

    4. Or do you think I'm going off in a totally wrong tangent? Perhaps I should consider using a PIC? Anything else?

    Thanks for your time.
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2011
  2. TBennettcc

    TBennettcc

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    Dec 4, 2010
  3. Smithy49

    Smithy49

    18
    0
    Jul 14, 2011
    I'll give the second one a shot - I could buy a pre-made one.


    But that would be cheating wouldn't it?!?!:D


    I thought that it would be more interesting for my education in electronics if I had a project which I was passionate about. No offense, but I think this is more interesting for me than a circuit which converts PWM to audio, for example.:eek:

    Perhaps that'll change in a few months...
     
  4. poor mystic

    poor mystic

    1,068
    31
    Apr 8, 2011
    Hi
    I don't think you'll get much joy from a 555, because they're too difficult to keep in tune. I see people doing thing with PICs that involve music though so I guess they're happy with the results. PICs have crystal clocks and will be much easier to keep in tune.
    It'll be a challenge to get the intonation right for a chanter because while most western music fits into a 12 tone equally tempered scale, a chanter has an anomalous note which will make things interesting for the programmer.
    Good luck!
    PS it'd be good to know how you get on with this. Electronics is of course changing and while I grew up in the days of op-amps and combinatorial logic I find PICs are the new big thing for home electronics construction.
     
  5. Smithy49

    Smithy49

    18
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    Jul 14, 2011
    :eek:


    I'm very impressed - have you dabbled in piping before?:D
     
  6. poor mystic

    poor mystic

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    Apr 8, 2011
    I'm not a piper, I'm a jazz guitarist. But I was a woodwinds player and as you see I know a little bit about the pipes.
    If I were to take this project on for myself, with the goal of a practice instrument, I'd be very tempted to ignore the anomaly and give all the notes their normal western values.
     
  7. Smithy49

    Smithy49

    18
    0
    Jul 14, 2011
    Yes, to be honest, the practice chanter isn't something which is tuned or made to sound pleasant. It is mearly a tool with which to practice for the big pipes.

    Same idea with this.


    Using that circuit, I've thought of replacing Sw4-10 with touch pads as in the attachment.

    However, I'm unsure wether the circuit will be sensitive enough, so I thought about adding a Darlington Pair. I've come up with two basic ideas - but which is the best - is this even needed?
     

    Attached Files:

  8. poor mystic

    poor mystic

    1,068
    31
    Apr 8, 2011
    :)
    I think that is probably a good design. It doesn't show any trimpots on the resistors though so it might sound a bit ugly and who's surprised? I'd sneak trimpots in myself.
    On the touchpad question as long as whatever switch you use is reliable and has a low "on" resistance you should do OK.
    Another thing that comes to mind btw is that these things are always designed with the switches normally "off" which is a shame I think. If the instrument were designed with switches normally "on", with a small current always flowing to keep the contacts clean, I think there'd be fewer frustrating moments for the piper.
     
  9. Smithy49

    Smithy49

    18
    0
    Jul 14, 2011
    Ah balls - you've just pointed out the most obvious flaw in the design... How could I miss that?

    I think I'm going to need a PIC circuit - where it plays a corrisponding note to a perticular switch being low...

    E.g.

    No switches are low (all fingers covering the 'holes') then it plays a G.
    If the switch X is high (one finger removed) then it plays an A.
    With switch Y and X high (two fingers removed), it forgets about switch X and plays a B.
    When switch Z, Y and X are high (three fingers removed) then it forgets about Y and X, and plays a C#.

    And so on...


    This is assuming I'm using Push to Break switches, if it's easier I'll use PTM and everything will just be in reverse.

    Is this feasible in a PIC? If so, what PIC should I choose?
     
  10. poor mystic

    poor mystic

    1,068
    31
    Apr 8, 2011
    :)
    I hope somebody else will give you an experienced answer, but with no experience of Arduino I'll jump right in and say it has the reputation of being easy, effective, and cheap. Like $20 cheap including the programming cable and everything you need.
    Sound good to you? Sounds good to me, I'll be getting my first Arduino pretty soon.
     
  11. Smithy49

    Smithy49

    18
    0
    Jul 14, 2011
    Sounds good to me! I'll see what I can do.:)

    Thanks for your help mystic.
     
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