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Solenoid piano?

  1. Oct 10, 2008 #1
    I was thinking that it's possible to make a sort of "piano" using solenoids. If you had a spring to reset it, and the "keys" of the "piano" activated simple contact switches, it could be done, right? It wouldn't be a terrible strain on the batteries if the contact were as short as pressing down a key...

    The "bar" in the center of the tube could ring a pitchfork, a tuning fork, a bell, or maybe just a piece of metal that produces the proper tone when struck.

    One day, I'm going to think about building a small one, desktop-model-style. What type of wire should I use? I've heard that 20-gauge insulated copper wire works well for solenoids. I don't know where I could find any small tubes or bars, though. I have a few diagrams, but the scanner is being mean. >.>
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 10, 2008 #2


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    If it's going to hit something in the end, why not just make it completely mechanical? Well, actually, I'm stoopid, it has to be mechanical in the end, since it's sound. :rolleyes:

    I suppose the main "limitation" of the piano is there is no control of the sound after the key is struck. Maybe it'd be nice to improve on that? I'm a bit doubtful if it's really a limitation, since I don't know if the pedal ("the soul of piano") would be so intuitive and effective to use if piano sound didn't die away automatically.

    Theremins use solenoids and they produce a really otherwordly sound, but the interface is not a keyboard, closer to a violin I suppose.
    http://home.att.net/~theremin1/RCA/rca_theremin.html [Broken]

    Yamaha seems to have solenoids in its disklavier which produce mechanical force on the keys during playback. During recording, the motion of the keys is sense optically.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
  4. Oct 10, 2008 #3
    I think they call what you are describing an electronic piano, which is already made. Why would you want to do what fingers already do easily and better? Piano players vary how hard they hit the key to change how loud the note is, how are you going to do that with the precision of the finger? If you want this piano to be human controlled it doesn't ssound like a good idea. If you want it to be self-controlled like a player piano it could work but again why?
  5. Oct 11, 2008 #4
    I'm not thinking of an entire piano, with pedals and everything. More like an afternoon project than a full invention. :) I only used the word "piano" because that's kind of what it would look like, just with no black keys. The one I was planning on making, the desktop-model, would have eight keys (one octave) at most.

    There wouldn't be much subtlety in the notes, since it would be hard to control that with just the contact-switch-keys.

    I was inspired by the Solenoid Concert video on metacafe.

    Just with more of a physical interface, with "keys" instead of an audio sequencer.

    As for why: Because I feel like it. XD I don't know, I've been starved of projects lately.
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