Blog - Sketching with Hardware

Team 4 – Drum like a bike

Published on: | Author: Iris Maurer | Categories: 2015a, Projects

“Hi, my name is Iris and this is Olivia! We are currently doing our master in media informatics at the LMU. And we are team 4!”

Iris Olivia


“Olivia, let’s talk about the project we were working on during last week! Do you remember our first day when we were wondering about how our MIDI instrument could look like?”

“Yeah, I do remember! We thought about a wheel, but we had absolutely no idea how to produce sounds with it.”


“Then the concept of a drum came into our mind. We could spin the wheel with each spoke making the same tone pitch and even expand the drum with further elements.”

Spinning Wheel

“That sounded splendid in the first moment! But when it came to turning the wheel we realized its not as easy as we thought. Fortunately we had a great instructor who helped us out of our frustration. Instead of fixing the motor to the hub we got the advice to separate it from the wheel and connect them with an elastic band! As the wheel didn’t remain at his place while spinning, we constructed a base made of wood.”



“Motivated by the success of the last day, we couldn’t wait continuing with our second part of the instrument: a bicycle bell! We were sure about using a servo motor to simulate the required movement to make the bell ring. Look at this picture: a string installed at the servo pulls the control lever! ”


“Wow such a cute bunny on the bell! In the end we needed to install our construction and think about further possible drum parts. Additionally we implemented a virtual midi keyboard on our laptop which helped us generating MIDI-input so that we could test our output-device.”

“…and it worked perfectly! So we could start into a relaxing weekend.”


“New week, new instruments” *laughing*

“True story! In our craft box we found a transparent glitter ball. We remembered the ball bearing balls we took out of our wheel the first day. Let’s recycle them we thought – and this resulted in a ….*drum roll*… rattle. One of the problems constructing the rattle was finding and realising the right movement to get the small balls rolling inside the glitter ball. It seemed to be such easy when shaking the glitter ball by hand.

First we thought of the ball mounted on a rotating disk which could be stopped instantly.


Unfortunately the abrupt stop didn’t work so that we couldn’t hear any sound. We decided to replace the motor with a servo which was able to get the ball bearing balls move and thus create noise!”


Fender knocker

“What a nice sound! For now we had a base drum, a snare drum and a hi-hat. What we still needed was a crash! Hearing crash we obviously had to think of a fender knocker. Due to the fact that we were pretty familiar with the servo motor, it was clear to use it again. We installed a knocker that either tapped a fender or a stand. We also managed playing offbeat by turning up the stand so that only the fender could make sound.“

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Putting the pieces together

Wonderful! Each instrument was ready to be played separately. At that time it was our task to assemble them all to one big bike drum. Therefore we had to re-plug all the wires to make all our instruments work in unison.


After we finished replugging, something was crashed. So we spent most of the time looking for the reason – it was the motor driver shield. Luckily everything was fine after exchanging it. At this point it was time to put the finishing touches on our design by rebuilding the wheel’s base and by colouring every part in the same color.


“Our last steps were connecting the MIDI port to our construction and test our output with an input-device. With every team helping each other, this was not a big deal. Mission accomplished! It was nice to be part of it!”








linked categories 2015a, Projects


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