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September 7, 2015 AT 4:00 am

Building an analog looping piano with a Raspberry Pi #MusicMonday #RaspberryPi

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Adafruit customer Michael wrote in to tell us about his neat analog looping piano project.

The Idea

Walking around downtown Lancaster in the summer, it’s hard to miss the pianos sitting out on nearly every block. Known as the “street piano capital of the world”, Lancaster’s Keys for the City program has provided a fun way to rock out with strangers or just have a little fun on your stroll through the city.

As musicians, Sean and I often noodle around on a piano en route to work, and more often than not we find ourselves coming up with a riff or melody worth saving. Recording to your phone is one way to preserve the idea, but wouldn’t it be cool if you could record a song and upload it to the internet right from the piano itself? Maybe even record multiple layers to make a song with friends?

We thought so too, and soon found ourselves pitching the interactive “Multiplayer Piano” to Music for Everyone, the non-profit behind Keys for the City. We were prepared to go in depth on how this would increase donations, exposure, etc, but they immediately got it and loved the idea without much persuasion. I love this city!

The Design

We knew from the beginning that we didn’t want to rely on a display, so we tried to design around a minimal interface with only a few buttons and lights. At first we were convinced we could make it intuitive with no display at all.

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However, after working through the user experience, we knew some kind of display would be required, and might even allow us to give Quaver a bit of personality. Still wanting to stay minimal, we ended up choosing the LDP-8008 from Embedded Adventures along with their Uber Display Driver PLT-2001.

Our final layout included:

  • Current player indicator lights (Red for recording, green for finished)
  • Record button
  • Save & Upload (at any point after recording the first layer)
  • Play Previous (to hear the last song made)
  • Reset (to start over and reboot the machine)

Read more.


Featured Adafruit Products!

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Diffused RGB (tri-color) 10mm LED (10 pack) – Common Anode: Make some beautiful colors with these diffused 10mm tri-color LED with separate red, green and blue LED chips inside! They make a nice indicator, and fun to color-swirl. We like diffused RGB LEDs because they color mix inside instead of appearing as 3 distinct LEDs. Read more.


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Massive Arcade Button with LED – 100mm Red: OMG WATCH OUT! This 100mm diameter arcade button with a 10mm deep plastic base is so massive and inviting it may collapse upon itself and form a black hole from which not even light can escape! Until it does, however, it ready for all sorts of pressing and pushing. Science has shown no one can resist pressing its shiny surface and saying “beep!”. We’ve seen these on some games of skill in arcades, they’re easy to mount on nearly any kind of enclosure. They’re not waterproof or weatherproof, so best used indoors. Read more.


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