MIDI Baroque Recorder

Prototypes #1, #2 and #3

Prototype #1:

Design started:

  • March 2019

Build completed:

  • March 2019

Destruction date:

  • March 2019

Goals of this project:

  • To create a MIDI woodwind style instrument that uses baroque recorder/blockflute fingering patterns.

What was learned from this prototype:

  • Momentary switches work okay as control inputs, but are otherwise not suitable for a project like this. They require far too much force to activate, making for a poor playing experience.

Notes:

Proof of concept more than anything, this instrument only really existed in parts used for testing. After discovering how terribly suited momentary switches were for this project, it was destroyed. This plan had buttons attached to a sled that was then glued into place internally after soldering. This showed promise and was carried over into future designs before eventually being scrapped in favor of designing a shell from two halves that fit together.

Prototype #2:

Design started:

  • March 2019

Build completed:

  • April 2019

Destruction date:

  • April 2019

Goals of this project:

  • Experiment with photoresistors as a replacement for momentary pushbuttons to allow for more responsive playing.

What was learned from this prototype:

  • Condenser microphones are damaged from moisture too quickly to be reliable.
  • Construction with a body cavity this narrow is extremely frustrating.

Notes:

Another prototype that really only existed in separate parts on the bench. This prototype saw an end to the condenser mic used as a breath controller, as they were being damaged from moisture too quickly to be reliable. I experimented with shielding behind plastic or latex, but this reduced detection sensitivity to the point where the required gain increase allowed vibration from finger taps to trigger the sensor.

This was also the point where design sacrifices would be made to increase the internal volume. Components fit neatly inside until everything needs a wire run to it, at which point it became completely unworkable.

Prototype #3:

Design started:

  • April 2019

Build completed:

  • April 2019

Destruction date:

  • April 2019

Goals of this project:

  • To replace cheap condenser mics with a pressure sensor for more reliable breath control input.
  • Increase the internal volume of the instrument so that components can actually be wired.

What was learned from this prototype:

  • Photoresistors showed promise on the bench, but in practice were unsuitable for this purpose.
  • Securing components to a 3D printed sled this long and thin really doesn't work well due to warping issues.

Notes:

Photoresistors worked well on the bench, but once actually assembled in a working prototype, the temperature variance just from human hands proved enough to cause significant readings drift during play. Even with a button to quickly recalibrate ranges, it was just to clumsy to be useful.

I was also never happy with the design of this prototype. I wanted to keep things as small and portable as possible, but always thought it looked more like a soda can than a woodwind instrument.

By this point in time I had joined a new orchestra, and with work and family, didn't have the time to devote to this project. After the photoresistors failure, I scavenged the pressure sensor for Melodicade prototype #2, and put this project on the back burner for basically the rest of the year.