The Junk Drum Machine

I do not really have any spare time. (Toddler, job, very demanding cat, lots of LEGO to tidy up.) If I did, I like to imagine that I’d come up with something like this to do with it.

junk drum machine

Want to see this collection of junk animate? Scroll down for video.

From someone calling themselves Banjowise (let me know what your real name is in the comments, please, so I can credit you properly here!), here is a pile of junk turned into a weirdly compelling drum machine.

Mechanically speaking, this isn’t too complicated: just a set of solenoids triggered by a Raspberry Pi. The real clever is in the beauteous, browser-based step sequencer Banjowise has built to program the solenoids to wallop things in beautiful rhythm. And in the beauteous, skip-sourced tchotchkes that Banjowise has found for them to wallop. Generously, they’ve made full instructions on making your own available on Instructables. Use any bits and bobs you can get your hands on if old piano hammers and crocodile castanets are not part of the detritus kicking around your house.

Warning: this video is weirdly compelling.

The sequencer is lovely: a gorgeously simple user interface that you can run on a tablet, your phone, or anything else with a browser (and it’s very easily adaptable to other projects). The web interface lets Python trigger the GPIO pins over web sockets. There’s a precompiled version available for people who’ve followed Banjowise’s comprehensive wiring instructions, but you can also get the source code from GitHub.

Sequencer UI

I think I’m getting good, but I can handle criticism.

We love it. Now please excuse me. I need a little while to search online for crocodile castanets.


Steve avatar

This is just wonderful. And a first-rate, detailed write-up of the project to boot! Can’t beat that.

Roger avatar

They’ll call you Dr. Worm! :)

Liz Upton avatar

Hallelujah. Someone got it. :)

BanjoWise avatar

Thanks so much for the excellent blog post, glad you enjoyed the project and it’s great to see it featured here. As for my name, BanjoWise will do :D

Liz Upton avatar

Thanks very much for making it (and I found the castanets on Amazon, which will cheer up my daughter no end). Do drop us a line if you make anything else you think we’d be interested in; I really, really enjoyed writing about this one!

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