Julie Android

Mike Cook has rigged up a solenoid-controlled glockenspiel to play some of Rogers and Hammerstein’s finest. Just brilliant.

He’s hand-built a simple buffer board to intermediate between the Raspberry Pi and his robot glockenspiel, which you can read all about on his blog; there are instructions for making a similar board at home, which sounds like a great weekend project. Give me a shout if you make one yourselves!

Pi Plays Poppins from Mike Cook on Vimeo.


AndrewS avatar

Cool! 8-)
Just to be pedantic ;-) and correct a couple of errors in the write-up – the RPi-PCB is a 6-layer board rather than just 2-layer; and the “virtual” GPIO numbers were put forwards by the Foundation http://www.raspberrypi.org/archives/384 before we knew what the “real” GPIO numbers (as seen by Linux) were. Which leads to the confusion of real GPIOs, virtual GPIOs and physical pin numbers! All nicely clarified in the spreadsheet by RaspberryPiBeginners http://www.raspberrypi.org/archives/1417

William H. Bell avatar

A create example of some fun interfacing, thanks Mike. Are projects like this one going to be collected together into a set of links or pages for schools? While it is good to see on the blog, in the longer term a project page would be a better reference. Thanks and best regards, Will

William H. Bell avatar

Errata : create -> great
a good reason why blog posting from the control room is not a good idea.
As other have said, thanks again Mike.

alex avatar

That’s very cool. Picky point, but “Doe a dear” comes from the sound of music, but at least it was the same actress. ;)

David R avatar

Wasn’t ‘The Sound of Music’ originally a Rodgers and Hammerstein broadway show that they then made a film of (obviously based on Maria Von Trapp’s book)?

Must say, THIS is the sort of eccentric, inane brilliance I wanted for the Raspberry Pi.

liz avatar

It was. I think Alex is referring to the fact that the video is called “Poppins Pi”; I also pointed out the error because I am a musicals pedant too, but by that time Mike had already committed the title to Vimeo.

And I totally agree; this is exactly the sort of project we like to see! Brilliantly entertaining, kind of useless, and still makes you giggle. And it has LEDs.

Martyn Jones avatar

If you’re really going to be picky it’s Doe a DEER actually!

Great project from Mike, I remember him from my BBC Micro and Micro User magazine days – built a few of his projects then, most memorably one to control mains lights from the Beeb’s user port -happy days.

SN avatar

Love it – will definitely check out the board construction as hopefully it’ll provide a simple ‘isolating setup’ for the GPIO pins to ‘other stuff’

Jules Winfield avatar

“Mike Cook? I recognise the name”, I thought. “Could it be the same Mike Cook who used to write those hardware articles in ‘The Micro User’ magazine for BBC Micros, and later in ‘Acorn User’ for subsequent Acorn machines?”

One quick visit to his web site later, and it is indeed the same Mike Cook. His articles were always fascinating, but as I was a child at the time, most of them went straight over my head.

It’s lovely to see him still doing this. And not at all surprising to see that it’s (to borrow a word from Liz) brilliant.

liz avatar

Oh good grief – you’re right. I hadn’t made the connection when corresponding with him, but *I* remember those too from when I was a kid (I’ve been trying to buy a complete set of Micro User for years; hint hint, readers). Thank you again, Mike; you should be less self-effacing in your emails! ;)

Wombat avatar


I wish I had know I threw out my set and 16 years of back issues of Byte, 6 years ago on our last house move (on the grounds that they had been in unopened boxes for at least 2 house moves). They went along with my a original (working) PET 2001!

liz avatar

Aargh. That is all.

AndrewS avatar

It’s too late now, but for anyone else finding themselves in a similar position – I’m sure http://www.computinghistory.org.uk/ would gladly accept any donations :)

Darren avatar

Or indeed http://www.tnmoc.org/ my preference as they are open to the public.

Ian Smallshire avatar


I have the majority of the Micro User and Acorn User that I need to go to a good home as I no longer have the space.

I do want to scan the Mike Cook – Body Building Course articles as they are where I got my love for electronics and computing back in the 80’s.

I have sent you mail with a few more details.

Mike Cook avatar

You can get a DVD set with them all on from here:-
It is odd but I still hold the copyright on my articles as I only sold first publication rights to my stuff, so when I got these I was paying for my own stuff.
Note however that the discs only go to the change in title to Acorn computing

Robin J. avatar

Now that’s an awesome project :p

Andy avatar

Can it play nirvana “smells like teen spirit”?

Mike Cook avatar

Well as that is in Fminor and the glock is only one octave in C, I don’t think it is on. :-)

alex avatar

I think if you’re into computers, particularly programming, you’ve got to be a pedant to survive. I remember typing in Beebug magazine programs, discovering the hard way that O and 0 are different. I think this project is absolutely fantastic. I was almost reluctant to say anything about the Poppins issue.

David R avatar

I for one enjoy a modicum of pedantry, especially if it’s about something that few people know or care about. Makes us programming types useful in the pub quiz General Ignorance round….

jOHN avatar

I am NOT a copyright a__h___, but I’ve been bashed over the head by TechDirt and SlashDot with the CopyRights of music for so long, that I just had to ask.
Were the UK music people paid for this “performance”?
And yes this should be “fairuse” or what ever the UK version of that is.

Patrick avatar

I just got my email to order my pi! The only problem is I don’t have a credit card… Now I have to convince my parents to order me one if I pay them. I can’t wait!

Reggie avatar

Fantastic little project, a few more instruments and you’ve got a wurlitzer or a compton!

tony kempton avatar

nice one, was thinking on similar lines to interface to a stylophone.
once I work out the notes should be able to play “Telstar”

reiuyi avatar

Projects like these remind me I’d still want to convert an old 85/88 key piano to a midi-controlled player piano similar to how the Yamaha Disklavier is controlled. Though in my case I was more looking into using cheaper atmel’s and software-PWM for solenoid control, and maybe using raspi as a “master switch” for interpreting midi from various sources and sending signals to an atmega which in turn controls the cheaper atmels.. Either that or whatever else cheap chip comes up in the next couple of years :D

finnw avatar

Similar idea but on a larger scale:

Stephen Kirby avatar

Don’t think that’s a Glockenspiel, it’s a small xylophone .

liz avatar

Xylophones are the ones with the wooden chimes. (Greek ξύλον = xylon = “wood”.)

Mike Cook avatar

Were the UK music people paid for this “performance”?

No indeed they were not. I look forward to being sued.

Kate avatar

Hi Mike, We would love to see projects like this at the Bristol Raspberry Jam, fantastic work!

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