Need help on a music box idea..

Discussion in 'The Projects Forum' started by kids.dig.unwound, Apr 2, 2013.

  1. kids.dig.unwound

    Thread Starter New Member

    Apr 2, 2013
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    I have an idea for a music box that plays an entire song, different phrases and all, and includes several "instruments" in the entire arrangement. In addition to this, it would include an LED light show in the display ("dancing" to the music) and some other simple things (simple parts mostly, the complete concepts for which have not been entirely determined as of yet). This project is pretty ambitious for me but I think I have a passable fundamental knowledge of electronics and am intending to collaborate with someone who has a better grasp of the subject.
    I have a couple of questions off hand that I would like to ask about the project:

    1. In order to have the several phrases of a song that repeat and then switch (verse/chorus/bridge/etc...) my plan is to have several movements (the piece in a music box that plays the music; a motor attached to a roller with bumps or "picks" that turns and plucks the tuned tines on a comb) that play one at a time, repeating 4, 8, 12, or 16 times and then stopping while another movement starts, continuing with the next part of the song, and keeping the beat. Building the movements is something that I can handle. The alternating between them is something I need help with.

    2. I intend to include a display that interacts with the music. Included in the display is an LED light show. I want a specific LED light to turn on each time a specific note is struck by one of the movements in the music box. That is simple enough to accomplish; attach a power supply to every "pick" on the roller and a different LED light to each tine on the comb. My problem arrives in making the LEDs stay on beyond the small amount of contact between the pick and the tine. I would like each light to stay on for about a second. This is something else I need help with.

    I have a few more questions but these are the most important right now. If anyone can answer these that would be greatly appreciated. This is just a home project I plan on giving to someone very important to me as a gift and if I can accomplish it with somebody's help from this forum I would be very grateful. Any ideas or answers would be greatly appreciated whether positively correct or just a thought. Thanks guys!
     
  2. MrChips

    Moderator

    Oct 2, 2009
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    Does it have to be mechanical? This can be done using a microcontroller.
     
  3. kids.dig.unwound

    Thread Starter New Member

    Apr 2, 2013
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    So that is essentially a small computer that I can program to turn on/off the power to each movement on the music box? Just making sure that's what you're saying.
    As I've said, I have a fundamental knowledge of electronics but am not versed on all facets. Sorry to ask, but how exactly can a microcontroller help me?
     
  4. MrChips

    Moderator

    Oct 2, 2009
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    You can generate your musical notes mechanically or you can do so electronically such as with a MIDI instrument. You can also have the music stored in memory as a wave file.
    Synchronization with LEDs would be easy to do on a microcontroller.
     
  5. kids.dig.unwound

    Thread Starter New Member

    Apr 2, 2013
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    I want to maintain the sound and novelty of something being played by real instruments; to preserve the nostalgic feel of a music box while accomplishing something more..and integrate a visual element to the whole package. I was even thinking the end product could show the music boxes spinning under the other part of the display through glass or plexiglass.
     
  6. MrChips

    Moderator

    Oct 2, 2009
    12,440
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    Let's backup for a second.

    If you are thinking of a traditional music box, this consists of a mechanical rotating drum with pins that trip a reed instrument to produce the musical note.

    A MIDI instrument and musical format is a way of encoding and reproducing musical notes using a digital computer. The entire music is divided up into time slots, just like the rotating drum. At every time slot the musical note is encoded with information such as:

    pitch, duration, volume, instrument, choral arrangement, attack, decay etc.

    An LED would be encoded as if it were another musical instrument with information such as:

    colour, duration, intensity, attack, decay, etc.

    Percussion instruments are encoded in a similar manner.

    The arrangement or movement in the form of verses, chorus, bridge, intro, outro, drum rolls, etc can be easily programmed into the digital format.

    Doing all of this with a traditional music box would be excessively complicated. But it can be done if you want to go to all the trouble. It would become more like a player piano or a street organ grinder.
     
  7. kids.dig.unwound

    Thread Starter New Member

    Apr 2, 2013
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    I understand what MIDI is and I most definitely understand the benefit of doing this via later technology but the entire appeal in the project (for me anyways) is centered around the music box format and as far as executing the project the appeal lies completely in the complexity.
     
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