How it all came to be and what it all means to me.

A project log for Automata Music Sequencer

An automata music sequencer using cams, gears and pulleys to program the note sequence. Music generated by 555 square wave output.

Dean SegovisDean Segovis 02/20/2019 at 02:531 Comment

When I got this idea it was based on a rotating cylinder like the ones in wind up music boxes only it would trigger notes on a 555 based squarewave synth that I had already built. The Sqonkbox.  I knew that the cylinder would have movable cams that would trigger micro switches. The part that went through many variations in my head was how it all went together. I'm a musician so I was thinking 4/4 time. The drum would play 8 notes or two measures of quarter notes. Then I thought why not add a second drum. Then immediately thought a third drum with cams that sequenced the first two drums, but rotating at 1/4 he speed to allow the programming of phrases.

It all came together in my head, but how to implement it. Like most problems involving hardware hacking, it came to me upon waking up when my mind is fresh. The final build is what I envisioned in an instant one morning. Once I had that vision I had a plan. After that it was just a matter of spending about 10 hours designing it all in Sketchup. Once I had the drawings and converted then to .stl files it was time to start printing.

When I started I had one printer. A Hictop 3DP-11. It got a major workout printing the three main drums which took a total of over 30 hours! The printer started to have issues with the extruder feed gear and after several failed prints I knew it was time for some upgrades. However, I was short on time. 

I decided to buy a larger better printer. I bought a Monoprice Maker Pro MK.1. After one day of use, I sent it back and did some more research. I then decided on the Creality CR-10S which I bought on Amazon. I set it up on the Saturday before the the deadline for this contest and had it printing parts by the afternoon. I stayed up til past midnight printing prototype parts and refining the design. I spent the following Sunday doing more refining parts and printing with both printers. I had since bought and installed a new extruderor the 3DP-11. By 1:30 am I had the final base board printing. It was at 48% when I went to bed. 

Monday morning it was still printing as I left for work. I came home at 5:00 to a finished piece and began assembly. I stayed up until 1:45, getting the build to the point of needing only wiring and programming. This morning, I packed it all up along with a power supply and took it to my business. I own and operate an automotive repair shop. I finished up the wiring at my electrical work bench there. I inserted the cams in such a way so as to play an ascending and descending scale. By 11:45 it was operational. I posted a final picture to this blog and marked the project "complete".

There are over 60 3D printed pieces totaling well over 70 hours of of print time in this project. The printer was a $500 purchase and the upgrades to the 3DP-11 cost about $30. I used close to a kilo of filament. I ended up with a great new printer, a lot of new knowledge and experience and the satisfaction of completing a project I had envisioned on time for this contest. I pushed the limits and I came out on top. 

It was well worth the investment in time and money. I hope this will inspire others in the same way.

Keep on hackin...

Dean, AKA Makerdino on HackAWeekTV. 


Michael Aichlmayr wrote 02/22/2019 at 14:28 point

very cool! This was a blast to watch!

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