Spinner Synth, Part 2

Here are some photos of my second spinner synth prototype. I’ll make up a video demonstration soooon. Click any of the photos for a larger version.
Usage instructions
Frame detail Wheel lock mechanism Belt drive assembly Completed wheel mount As an artifact Rigging

Also, it’s short because it is for children :-D

This entry was posted in Journal, tech, toughart. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Spinner Synth, Part 2

  1. youevolve says:

    We played with this at the Mini Maker Faire in Ann Arbor this weekend. HUGE hit with my 3 year old. She didn’t want to leave it! Good job and thanks for making it kid friendly.

  2. mahto says:

    Thanks!!! I really appreciate it :-)

  3. youevolve says:

    Would you be willing to post your code? More details of this build would be greatly appreciated. My kids are still talking about it!

  4. mahto says:

    Sure- I’m planning to put up full plans and debugged code once I’ve got the piece installed, but here is the current code:


    Use the github version instead.

  5. youevolve says:

    Thank you! I also really appreciate how well commented your code is.

    I got it working except for sound. Why do you go to a keyboard in your build instead of just having the computer create the music? I’m not a musical person, so I’m sure I’m missing something here. Is this due to the nature of the installation?

    Please forgive my impatience. I do know you will post all later, but my kids are less patient than I am.

  6. mahto says:


    I only used the keyboard for prototyping. For the installation I am currently using a software synth called ZynAddSubFx. It’s not necessary for this project, but was really handy with my laser harp because I didn’t need to drag around a computer to use it.

    At least with Linux, I’m jump through some hoops to connect the midi output from Processing to the input of the synth. Surely there is a way to connect the two directly, but currently I’m using the virmidi virtual MIDI kernel driver.

  7. youevolve says:

    Outstanding! A friend loaned me her synth and all works as advertised! Tomorrow we break out the lazy suzan and the play-dough. It is supposed to be a cold, wet day. Sounds like the perfect time to set the kids loose with this.

    I’m still unclear on how to connect it to ZynAddSubFx (I installed it under Ubuntu) but I’m sure I can figure it out given time. If not, I look forward to your write-up.

    Thanks for your help and good luck with the installation!

  8. mahto says:

    Cool! I’d love to see a picture or video of your take on it, if you get the chance ;-). For ZynAddSubFx, there are two routes, either using virmidi or JACK. If I can figure out how to automate either, I will put up directions!

  9. Pingback: C i b o M a h t o . c o m » Ferrous Wheel

  10. youevolve says:

    I’m not sure why it worked, but I exported a stand-alone for the sketch and now I have sound through the computer. No separate synth required. I have ZynAddSubFx and JACK installed, but not running when I compiled.

    My wife took pictures of the kludge – tripod on the table, webcam, lazy suzan, play-doh, bright light, synth, computer. She will post them to her blog soon, I think. Appropriate credit to you, of course. I’ll send you the link when she posts them.

    My favorite moment of the day was when my kids discovered they could use other things to create music instead of the play-doh I provided. Snow-White made many trips around and around and around. Soda cans, fingers, Legos… Their brains are far more creative than mine.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>