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This Instructable will actually show you how to make a mechanical glockenspiel as the keys are metal rather than wood (xylophone is a far better word though featuring very underused letter X). This instrument was a part of The Rock Band, composed of instruments that make music with rocks by throwing them through the air, slapping them and making them vibrate. The project was created at Autodesk's awesome Pier 9 digital fabrication workshop as part of their artist in residence program.

The rock parts of this instrument are the small pebbles that are launched at the keys. However, any small hard object would probably work. The aluminium keys were fabricated using a water jet cutter. If that tool is not available to you, then wooden keys could be used instead provided that the rest of the design is updated to accommodate their design. The xylophone will be controlled by MIDI so it is possible to control it to using most common music composition software, e.g. Logic, Cubase or Ableton.

Step 1: Gather Materials

For this Instructable you will need the following materials...

  • 12 x Pebbles: This instrument was a part of The Rock Band, composed of instruments that make music with rocks by throwing them through the air, slapping them and making them vibrate. You could also substitute this with any other small hard object.
  • Rubber cord: Black Hollow Rubber Cord 4mm Round - Amazon
  • 12 x Solenoids: I used JF-1250B solenoids ordered from China. They are also available on Amazon for a higher price.
  • 24 x 12mm Inner Diameter O-Ring:Amazon
  • Aluminium 0.125" for Keys, 18" x 8"
  • Aluminium 0.5" for Base, 16" x 16": The base could also be made from acrylic or plywood.
  • 2 x Clear Acrylic 0.25" (0.236"), 36" x 24": This could be made from plywood.
  • 8 x Aluminum Female Threaded Hex Standoff, 3/8" Hex, 3-1/2" Length, 10-32 Thread Size: McMaster
  • 12 x RFP30N06LE MOSFETs: Sparkfun
  • Polycarbonate Tubing 1 1/2" OD: Amazon
  • 12 x 10K Resistor
  • 12 x 1N4004 Diodes
  • Teensy 3.2
  • 8 x 7/8" 10-32 screws
  • 4 x 1" 10-32 studs
  • Sticky Feet
  • Speaker Cable
  • Heat Shrink for Speaker Cable
  • 12 x M3 x 6 Screws
  • 12 x M4 Nyloc Nuts
  • Blue Tape (UK Translation: Masking Tape)
  • 12V Power Supply: Amazon
  • Perfboard/Breadboard: I recommend soldering everything to perf board but I didn't get around to doing that before this Instructable so pics are of breadboarded version.
  • Hookup Wire
  • 2 x 12 Terminal Blocks
<p>This is so brilliant! I'm surprised it hasn't gone viral :)</p>
<p>This is amazing, i'm very interesting</p><p>The idea is unique.</p><p>Thank you for your idea.</p>
<p>Okay I'm not gonna even try and do this. Cause no 3d printer but this is amazing. </p>
<p>Here Comes The Sun cover by The Rock Band. Sounds totally legit :)</p><p>Amazing project and performance...</p>
<p>This is so cool Neil! Awesome work :)</p>
<p>Thanks!</p>
<p>I remember this from the AiR show at P9! Amazing work. Do you have a link to a particular solenoid you'd recommend?</p>
<p>Thanks! If you search Amazon for JF-1250B, you'll find various sellers with them, some in the US and some that are a bit cheaper in China.</p>
<p>That was awesome!!!</p>
<p>Thanks!</p>

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