Picture of The Electric Flute
Ok, first..  Yes, this isn't really a "flute"  :)  

It's actually a "recorder", but this project will allow it to make sounds like a flute, recorder, or even weird space noises.   Kids love this project!

We'll turn a $1.00 recorder into an electric instrument complete with breath "blow" sensor!
A Propeller Platform running some synthesizer code provides the sound for this fun instrument.

You'll have a choice of converting the instrument to become fully electronic, or adding synth features to the existing instrument.

Here's what you'll need

* A Propeller Platform (Gadget Gangster)
* A Protoplus Module (Gadget Gangster)
* Five 10K resistors (Radio Shack)
* Four Tact switches (Radio Shack)
* A Piezo Transducer (Radio Shack)
* Some wire (Radio Shack)
* A toy recorder (Local Discount Store)
* A soldering iron & hot glue gun

We are going to create two different circuits for our instrument.  (Picture 2)  
The switch circuit for our four tact "finger" switches, and a piezo circuit for our breath "blow" sensor.  

Step 1: Connecting Cable

Picture of Connecting Cable
You'll need to obtain some wire for seven connection points between the instrument and the Propeller Platform.
In my version of the project, I used some twisted pair network cable with the ends cut off.

* Note:  if you use twisted pair cable as I have, you will want to reduce the resistors on the tact switches from 10k to 1.2k as the cable will have some internal resistance of it's own.
susanrm3 years ago
As a flute player, your title drives me nuts, but it's a cool project nonetheless. Awesome!
Useless information:
Flutes are the oldest known musical instrument
The instrument we call a Recorder actually is a flute. Just a different type.
All flutes used to be this form.
Side blown flutes or transverse flutes are a newer incarnation of the instrument.

I was thinking "It's a Recorder! Why do people call it a Flute?", and then I read your comment. Thanks for the info, it's not actually useless!
1 in 6 children will be abducted by the Dutch.
mdlmusic3 years ago
Very cool.

I have been trying to come up with an electronic bagpipe chanter using cheap Casio keyboards that I gutted and a piece of PVC pipe for the chanter and have gotten close, but still haven't perfected it yet. You've inspired me to keep working on it.
agis683 years ago
like it...my wife get nuts she flute player but i will try it on a cheap flute
gana_anaq23 years ago
very nice project.
I have some improuvement ideea to make the toy even more realistic.
Your child is puting the mouth for no sense on the toy. if you add inside a pressure sensor like a membrane attached to a piezzo speaker and you will go the output to an analog input and in the software modify gain or frecquency in a function like this : Freqency = (integer)(analog.read) + (integer)(frequence.value.actual button pressed.)
and for more complex sounds make a dependency between the buttons. like :
output.frecqency=freq.butt1+ freq.butt2 +....
mogui3 years ago
Great project! Thanks!

Sometimes when I make an instrument by hand I give it a nice finish by wrapping it with nylon or cotton cord and then applying lacquer. This will hide all of your wires and black tape. Some hanging tassels would compliment this nicely. The cat would appreciate it.

Yes this project could be done very well with an Arduino. The cleverness in this design, beyond the original idea, is using the piezo as a breath sensor. This can be adapted to various other projects as well. Nice going!

The Propellor is more powerful than the basic Arduino, but what is needed here is a simple tone generator which is well within the capabilities of the 16 MHz Arduino. You can play with the crystal frequency of the Arduino to get an evenly divisible frequency for the tones you wish to produce. You can choose the processor you wish to learn.

Your tones can be pentatonic (or switchable to pentatonic), and if you make multiple instruments in the same pentatonic key, several children can play anything at the same time and there will be no dissonance! Everything will sound good. Imagine the creativity.
RonanOD3 years ago
Very cool! Is it possible to do it with arduino?
NDL326943 years ago
electric RECORDER.

rarebeasts3 years ago
This is rad! Well one.
linuxkid3 years ago
can it do midi
vicvelcro3 years ago
This looks really cool.

Next time my niece and nephew come around, I'll see if they're interested in giving it a go.
mikeasaurus3 years ago
Cool project, I love those crazy space sounds!