Tag Archives: RoboticGlockenspiel

The Robotic Glockenspiel is complete!

After putting the finish on the Glockenspiel case, I reassembled all the electronics, mechanics, and the box hardware (hinges, etc.). It works great!  See the full demo video.

Ok, I still want to adjust the amount of silicone on each solenoid, to smooth out the sound, eliminating the clanking on all the chimes. …but that’s for later.

The Finished Robotic Glockenspiel
The Finished Robotic Glockenspiel

As a reminder: the sources for the Glockenspiel are on the Glockenspiel Github site.

Adding A Finish to the Glockenspiel Case

Previously I finished the labels for the glockenspiel. In this post I literally Finish the case.

Last weekend and this weekend are nicely warm enough, so I’ve put a few coats of Minwax gloss polyurethane  finish on the Robotic Glockenspiel case.  In a few days the finish will be dry, and I can do the final fine-sanding (to remove dust captured in the Finish) and assemble the thing.

Finishing the Glockenspiel case
Finishing the Glockenspiel case

P.S., don’t copy my style of finishing – I’ve not learned how to do it well, and here I’ve not done most of what you want to do to make it come out right. I haven’t put down a drop cloth or newspapers to keep the surroundings from being Finished; I haven’t used pinpoint-tip stands to keep the work from sticking to the support table; I haven’t sanded between coats to remove dust/pollen; I’ve sprayed when it was breezier than it should be.

That said, I expect it will turn out well enough for this first-prototype, and functional enough to keep dirt from getting into the wood. (How many times have I said “the end is in sight”?) The end is in sight!

Next I complete the project at last!

Final labels for the glockenspiel buttons

Since trying out woodburned labels, I made another attempt at scrollsawing the button labels for the Robotic Glockenspiel, and am happy enough with the results that I’ve glued the labels to the glockenspiel box. I’m so happy to have finally made up my mind – whew!

So this blog is a sort of “how to scrollsaw” in a nutshell.

First, print out your pattern on paper. Make sure to print outlines rather than solid shapes, because the edges of solid shapes are hard to follow with the scrollsaw’s blade.

Next, use a glue stick and a roller to stick the printed pattern to the wood you want to cut. Some people like to use temporary adhesive, but I’m partial to glue stick.  For any closed spaces, drill a hole the size of your scrollsaw blade.

Pattern glued to the wood. Note the drilled hole in the O
Pattern glued to the wood. Note the drilled hole in the O

Next, cut the pattern out using your scrollsaw. For any closed spaces, unhook the blade, slide it through the hole you drilled earlier, reattach the blade, then cut the space. By the way, one of the things I love about my new saw (RBI Hawk) is that it’s made to do this sort of “pierced work” very quickly.

Cutting the wood. The circle interior is cut
Cutting the wood. The circle interior is cut

Once all the pieces are cut, admire your handiwork for a moment :-)

All the button labels cut out and lying on some scrap wood
All the button labels cut out and lying on some scrap wood

Next, remove the pattern paper from the cut pieces. If you used temporary adhesive you can peel the paper off. I prefer to sand off the paper because that sanding also removes any glue residue which would interfere with the Finish of the wood.

Sanding one of the cut labels
Sanding one of the cut labels

Once I sanded all the button labels I glued them to the glockenspiel box with white glue (carpenter’s glue) and clamped them down until dry.  Observe the lovely result!

Glockenspiel box with scrollsawed button labels glued on
Glockenspiel box with scrollsawed button labels glued on

Next I can (once the weather warms up) spray a clear finish on the glockenspiel box and reassemble all the hardware.

Wood-burned Glockenspiel labels

In my previous post, I scrollsawed labels for the glockenspiel buttons. This morning I tried out pyrography – wood-burning – to label the Robotic Glockenspiel buttons, using  a piece of scrap wood of the same material as the Glockenspiel box.

First I transferred the printed image to the wood using carbon paper and a stylus. I tried using an iron to transfer the pattern directly from the laser-printed paper, but found that works best (that is, at all) on inkjet prints rather than laser printing.

Pattern, carbon paper, and stylus
Pattern, carbon paper, and stylus

Next, I used a wood-burning iron to define the edges, then fill in the spaces. The result is pretty um…”rustic”, but not bad for having done almost no wood-burning before.  I’m still deciding whether I’ll go with this (pretty sloppy) or try thinner wood and my scrollsaw.

Woodburned glockenspiel labels
Woodburned glockenspiel labels

One advantage I just realized about raised, scrollsawn labels: the icons are simple enough that you can distinguish them with your fingers alone – great for people with visual impairments or for controlling it in the dark.

In my next post I return to scrollsawing the labels.

Scrollsawed button labels for the Glockenspiel

Since putting a lid on the glockenspiel case, I’ve been wrestling with exactly how to label the robotic glockenspiel buttons: If I had a laser engraver I probably would have engraved (woodburned) the labels on; sticking paper labels on could look pretty sloppy; decals sounded like a production of their own, with the risk of gumming up my printer; painting the labels would require a steady hand; woodburning by hand is another option; so is gluing on scroll-sawn raised labels.

So today I tried out my new (used) RBI Hawk 220 VS scrollsaw, that I’d cleaned up a few weeks ago.

Hawk 220 VS Scrollsaw
Hawk 220 VS Scrollsaw

Looking at the result,  I don’t think I’ll go with scrollsawn button labels: the labels look good, but I think they need to be more precise and on thinner wood. I’m also concerned that they could pop off the glockenspiel box pretty easily as I move the box about.

Scrollsawn button labels, laid on the box's wood
Scrollsawn button labels, laid on the box’s wood

By the way, the RBI Hawk is a sweeeet scrollsaw, far better than my old Sakura (knockoff of a Strong-brand saw). Even as old and worn as it is, it makes a really good cut.

The more I look at the scrollsawn labels, the better they look, but I think traced and woodburned labels will work better for the glockenspiel.

So next I’ll try transferring the labels’ pattern onto the wood  and woodburning it.

Putting hinges, lid on the Glockenspiel

Since fixing the sound of the chimes,  I’ve been finishing the software for the glockenspiel. Now all the buttons work: on/off, play/pause, skip back, skip forward, and shuffle. Woohoo!

Today I made the lid, attached the molding on the edges of the lid, attached the piano hinge and attached the side hinges. It’s not fine furniture, but I’m learning a lot about how to make The Real Thing. For example, don’t sand the wood with the sandpaper you used to remove rust from your new scrollsaw (ouch!).

All the hardware (except the front latch and the feet, which should install easity) is now installed.  So now I’ve taken all the hardware off so I can easily do the labels and spray the finish.

Next I plan to label the buttons – I plan to try woodburning – the end is in sight!

The lid is built
The lid is built

Silicone pads make a lovely sound

Now that the control buttons are in the circuit, I’ve tamed the clanking noise of the Robotic Glockenspiel! Hear it in this YouTube video.

In an earlier post I mentioned that I’d used a tube of silicone to put a drop of silicone on each solenoid, to reduce the loud ‘clank’ when the solenoid strikes the chime. I found out that a drop of silicone is way too much: the chimes hardly sounded at all.

Too-thick silicone. It damps the chime too much
Too-thick silicone. It damps the chime too much

I then found these fabulous 21-gauge glue syringes on Amazon. They’re perfect for painting just the right amount of silicone on the tip of the solenoid. They’re easy to use: pop the syringe open, squeeze a little (very little) silicone out of the tube into the syringe, touch the tip of the syringe ‘needle’ (really a thin metal tube) to the solenoid tip, then gently squeeze the syringe plunger as you paint the silicone onto the solenoid tip.

silicone and glue syringes: the path to success
silicone and glue syringes: the path to success

The photo below shows the result: a pad of silicone that’s about 1/2 the thickness of the drop shown above. I still have to experiment / adjust a bit: I thought I painted all the solenoids with about the same amount of silicone, but the chimes sound very different from each other. I suspect that I just have to be more careful about painting exactly the same amount of silicone on each solenoid.

Silicone applied with the glue syringe: just right
Silicone applied with the glue syringe: just right

Next I build a lid for the box.

The first switch is in

Since my last post about the glockenspiel, I’ve been taking a vacation from my vacation (aka working). Today I turned back to the glockenspiel and wired up the first of the 5 lighted switches.

The hardware is lighted buttons from Sparkfun in various colors, some 4-wire phone cable I bought years ago, and 4-conductor 0.1″ connectors. The heat-shrink tubing keeps the 5 pins of the button from shorting to each other. Two wires run the LED, and the other three make up the button (common, normally open, and the unused normally closed).

lighted button
lighted button
connector for the lighted button
connector for the lighted button

I had a little trouble reading the switch: whatever I did, the output was close to ground. After much experimentation, I realized that the pin I was using (pin 52) is used on the Arduino Mega 2560 for part of the SPI bus.  Once I moved the input to an unused pin, it worked like a charm, with the internal pull-up resistor to keep the parts count nicely low.

The result: push the button and the light comes on!
The result: push the button and the light comes on!

Next I improve the clanking sound with silicone.

Collaboration is not Part of Making; it’s the Heart of Making

This post is about what I’ve learned about Making through the Robotic Glockenspiel project.

Even at the beginning of the project, I was “standing on the shoulders of giants“:

Continue reading Collaboration is not Part of Making; it’s the Heart of Making

Design Thinking via the Robotic Glockenspiel Project

Now that the glockenspiel is working and in a case, this post is about what I’ve learned about Design Thinking through my Robotic Glockenspiel project.

Caveat: since I didn’t apply formal Design Thinking to the project, I’m going to be shamelessly revisionistic in order to talk about how the project would have been better via Design Thinking.

Continue reading Design Thinking via the Robotic Glockenspiel Project