Let's Make Robots!

How to make / get your own Yellow Drum Machine



Since I wrote the below, I have changed my mind, or something. Please read this instead.


Hi everyone,

Making a Yellow Drum Machine is not difficult, but it is an extremely large task to describe on web.

If it was only the building, I could manage with pictures and text, perhaps some video.

Also the materials; I could make some general instructions, and we could make a posting about where to find the materials in your country..

But the programming!!

YDM's have to first navigate around things, then find things to play on, then make rhythm via code & hardware that was never intended to be able to make music..

It all has to be squeezed and tweaked to both fit in the tight brains, but also to be kept in beat. This takes some strange ways of writing code!

Then there is the "personality"; If you just make it without adding "free will", you will not get a robot that feels "alive", it will just drive up to something and play excactly as you programmed. Just adding "random" does not do it.

Finally there is the whole issue about the "creating beats and match to the sample recorded" - that alone would take for ever to describe if you do not have a background in music.

All ins- and out-s in the code has to be hardcoded to save space; in other words, the code has to be adapted to the specific way you have wired your machine..

Also as such a project covers many areas, it would be hard to find the right level for everybody (one guy knows rhythm and programming, but is crap at building etc)


I think I get one e-mail a day from people who ask me if i can help them making a YDM / if I please would make a walk through.. And I am so sorry, I would really love to, but it just does not make sense; it more or less resembles teaching how to be good at playing soccer.. via web :)

I can help you get started (see top menu, start here) - but when it comes to YDM-building, and other more complex (yet easy and simple) robots, you will have to do it yourself.. I can help with specific questions only.



I could do complete packages, a complete YDM-kit, including a CD with code, materials and everything.

But would this spoil the fun, just following instructions? Where is the interest you have? Is it in getting the YDM, or to make one yourself? Would it be OK to follow a kit?

Would you be willing to pay overprice, to pay for my time producing etc?

This is the best I can do, feel free to mail me if this has your interest: xfritslyneborg@gmail.com (remove the x)

If enough tells me that they would pay more than just materials, and it would be fine to get a complete kit, I will think about making it and start selling. It is the best I can do.


Thanks for understanding. And I will try to make something less complex, but just as cool next time.. and include instructions :)


And hey - if you really want to build one, why not just do it?

I started by having 2 sticks mounted on the pager-motors. I made them play as i held them in my hand, they where wired to the board. I held them up to a glass, one to a tin-can, the other to the table.. That was fun.. so I put them onto a quick frame with belt tracks.. That was fun.. So I made some navigation.. Then I had this stupid little recorder-board, and thought "Hey, would be fun if the robot could record itself and play back to it", so .. ..

It really is not that hard - only hard to describe it all whithin a reasonable timeframe.. I too want to use my time building (new) robots ;)

But I made the "Start here" - tutorial. And YDM is only made on the same everything! (Same board even) It is all there, and around on this site!

Making a YDM is in fact a beginners project. I did not even make robots for a year when I made YDM, and I (still) know no electronics, and did not buy any special parts. Just glue and sticks.

Your robot does not have to be like mine, you can just make up some other way that your beginners-project interacts with it's surroundings. Perhaps buy a speech-module, and a thermometer, make the robot walk around and say which is the coolest place in the room :)

My best advise is: Build many robots. That is what I do. Just make some funny robots! If they are fun to build, they are fun!

Because I had already build perhaps 10 other robots with the same basic materials, It all became quite easy and routine for me. I build quick and dirty, connect what I should not, solder on the board, just having fun. Lots of glue! Then all the sudden ..


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Yeah, from your various comments it sounds like you don't have enough faith in yourself :) When I discovered YDM, I had only been building robots for about 2 weeks. I was far from an expert (and still am). But I really wanted my own drummer robot, so I just set about reading, researching, experimenting, and building. You don't need materials lists and step-by-step instructions handed to you on a silver platter -- just start building, and figure it out as you go along. Start with piecing together a circuit on a breadboard, trying different things to see what works and what doesn't. Once you've got something working pretty well, start building a body for it. It's kind of the difference between a classical musician that just plays the sheet music that's placed in front of them, and the musician that writes their own music.Personally, I think the latter is way more fun.