Noob Guidance: Midi file > Multiple Motors = Midi Controlled Music Box


I'm am interested in starting to experiment with Arduino. I have some website and Flash programming experience, so I think I could eventually pickup on the code side of things. I don't have any electronics experience beyond replacing light sockets/switches and the like. But I do have a garage full of tools, multimeter etc...

Anyway. I know that I have to crawl, walk and then run. But I have a particular project I would like to make. Since I don't have unlimited time, and especially money, I would like your help. If I have to crawl/walk my way through the basics of Arduino, can you help me crawl/walk/run in the same direction? Basically I would love to narrow (as much as it should be narrowed) my focus on and spending on only what will help me get my project completed the fastest. As far as I can see Arduino is a wide and interesting world full of possibilities. It would be fun to explore it all, and I intend to. Later.

So if you can suggest the minimal equipment, books, and tutorials that will help me get to where I need to go, that would be perfect.

Okay here is the project I want to build:

Most of you must be familiar with a Music Box right? A music box runs off a wound up or electrical motor, and the notes produced are controlled by a music disc, or a permanent drum/cylinder. Prices vary.

I want to build an electric music box controlled by Arduino. The notes will be produced by individual motors ( i don't know enough to say what type) rotating in such a way as to strike something like a xylophone/marimba bar, or a Thumb piano tine. (If you are un familiar with either of those instruments, a very very quick youtube search will educate you. But I will provide links upon demand) I have a xylophone kit kicking around, as well was spools of the wire used to make Thumb Pianos/Kalimbas. So whichever works best is what I will use. Although I am partial to using the Thumb piano wire. (it would make a very music box like sound)

The idea is that I would somehow get a midi file (I know that not all midi files would work) to the Arduino, and it would then translate that into motor movements to produce the song. That is the primary goal. I would LOVE it if my secondary goals could be met, which is to use my Midi keyboard or iPad with Midi controller apps to connect to the Arduino Music Box to play the Box in real time.

I've seen a video of an Arduino controlled xylophone. But I can't find it again... I'm not trying to invent something new. I just want to build it and play it.

I don't know how many motors I am limited to. I would prefer to have at least 2 chromatic octaves (= 24 notes = 24 motors) But I will settle with what I can get. However if you know of another device that would be more suitable, like Raspberry PI then I can go that route. I'm not invested in any hardware yet. (If someone just cringed, I apologize I am ignorant, but not stupid. Educate me and I will cease to make you cringe)

I think that is about it. Again I need to focus my time and money on what will get me to my Music Box. I will go through basic lessons, and Hello world programs. But I'd rather remain focused on what I will use later. For now anyway. Arduino sounds like fun and I will explore it further.

Current equipment. 3rd Gen iPad, 4th Gen iPod, 2007 iMac and a PC of roughly the same age. Shop with tools. Multimeter, small screw drivers, liars etc.. and alot of woodworking tools. CNC Micro Mill (Made by Taig) which I know how to use, Micro metal lathe (Taig too)

That's all I can think of.

Thank you.

Google search for: Arduino MIDI Glockenspiel

Thank you!

I had given up on finding those videos again!

Glockenspiel is not a word that came to mind at all. My other search terms came up with results of a xylophone like interface meant to capture information from you playing of a xylophone like instrument. I need it to be the other way around. I:E the Midi Glockenspiel information.

I am still going over the results of these new links. At minimum I hope to narrow down the hardware I need to buy.

I also found some information on servo motors: According to this forum post:,5441.0.html I can get 24 servos! (Which = 24 notes = 2 Chromatic octaves) Using this:

• Now I need to determine what other hardware I need (including which Arduino) • Find out how to get either a Midi file/Playlist onto the Arduino or how to wire in a Midi input jack (preferably both) • How to convert Midi data into Servo motor movements. Bonus goals • Programming Arduino to automatically transpose a piece of music that fits within the 24 note limit, but starts in the wrong place (no idea if that is possible) • Allowing me to select Midi files from a playlist. Display screen more than likely involved. • Create a hardware toggle between Midi file to music and Midi Keyboard to music.

In the end I will build it all into a self contained box. If this thing gets built I will post Photos, Sound samples and Video. If you don't see any Photos, Sound samples, or Video here then it is safe to assume that it is still a work in progress. Which means you can still provided feedback. So if your curious, and I haven't posted back in a while, feel free to ask, and I will answer.

Provided: 1. I still have a computer (Not making a lot of money right now. Not sure what I will do if my computer dies) 2. I still have internet. (Hope to move from town to the country someday. Fewer neighbours, more chickens. Decent Land = ($)$$$,$$$.$$ here though) 3. I am still able to use any of the above. (My day job is computer work. But you never know... accidents happen) 4. I'm still alive. (See #3)