Let's Make Robots!

Marblephone the Melody Machine


History: Inspired by Animusic's bodacious films, I was wondering whether a music robot in a much more simple way would be possible to make. Here is what my little boys and I created. Thank you Animusic for activating my imagination, building the music machine that I am calling Marblephone.


Technical: Mainly the Marblephone is made of eight magazines, each containing about 20 marbles on a bar. At the  bottom edge of every bar is a solenoid, that drops the bottom most marble. I use a 8 port relaiscard to control the eight solenoids (luckily a gamut is made of eight tones without the half-tones). Whenever a marble is being dropped by one of the solenoids, it hits the resonating peace and then falls in some kind of hopper. From there it rolls on the conveyor belt, which transports the marble back to the magazine bar.

Update, 28.12.2009: I finally got the Marblephone to a state where it can play endless music. The conveyor belts are mounted and the marbles get transported back to their initial positions.

After all I realized, that the whole machine is very loud while playing. But I think it is a robot and it is built using limited possibilities. So it is just OK that the whole thing is some kind of noisy.

Update, 04.01.2010: Some detailed pictures of the Marblephone:


This is one of the solenoid droppers.



Sound element and hopper catching the marbles.



This is where the marbles get dropped in by the conveyor belt and released to the track.



The bottom roll of the conveyor in detail.



How the conveyors are attached and the turnbuckles.



Electronic stuff.

1: 8 Port Relaiscard

2: 12 V transformer to feed the solenoids.

3: Second transformer with potentiometer (speed control) for the motor.

4: Motor, driving the conveyor belts.



Comments: At the first moment I was disapointed when I saw the Absolut Machines on YouTube, because I really thought that the Marblephone was the only one of it's kind. But then I watched more videos about the making of the Absolut Quartet project on their homepage. OK, obviously they had some more money in their budget then I have and a sponsor called "Absolut Vodka", but nevertheless it is a wonderful machine. Finally I got in touch with both creators Jeff Lieberman and Dan Paluska on Facebook.


Some weeks later I detected even another marble driven sound machine on YouTube, called Bearings Glocken, created by a japanese guy. They have a homepage too, that looks quite professional. For me it is wonderful to see what peoples are able to create!



Hope you're havin' fun watching the vid's.


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Cool! Just way cool.



But I'll give you a fan-friggin-tastic.
Yet another idea I wish I'd have thought of......2 thumbs up.
Thanks folks for all the feedback. By the end of this year I will (hopefully) install all the conveyors, transporting the marbles back to the top. And then the Marblephone comes up with new melodies.
Can't wait for the solenoid drums, ratchet harps, and servo guitars ;)
This thing is very cool. I did notice that the noise from the marble droppers (solenoid driven?) are quite loud. Have you thought of trying to dampen the noise with acoustic tile or something?
Yes, the solenoid driven droppers are indeed quite loud. This will be the next step to tackle. However, I doubt that acoustic tiles will do the job, since the solenoids are mounted to the wooden frame which carries the whole sound. So I am afraid I have to live with it for now. There was the idea to drop the marbles using a stepper motor (in fact 8 stepper motors). In this case I will need the help of you guys. It's the first time that I get in touch with such electronics, but it's a lot of fun I must say!
Wow !!!
This is very cool :)