2016-12-28 (W) Tough Pi-ano

Yesterday was not terribly productive. A lot of options were explored but no progress was made. The American idiom is “spinning your wheels.” I spent the whole day spinning my wheels. Or so I thought. I also mentioned that the local store stocked Raspberry Pi Zeros. At the time not much thought went into that fact but in the shower it seemed perfectly clear. A Pi Zero in each octave could read the twelve keys and be the synthesizer. All the brains would be in the octaves yet it would still be a low-cost solution. Not only low-cost but it would be inexpensive and use hardware from a reputable name. Now you know the reason for the name Tough Pi-ano. “təf-pī-an-o.”

This solution is not without problems. Namely, I’ve never used a Pi Zero before. The GPIO are well-suited for the task of reading piano keys but I’m not sure what to do on the software side. Something will need to be done to give the information to a synthesizer. Assuming a good synthesizer can be found. Maybe simple sound files can be triggered instead of utilizing a synthesizer. Another problem is getting sound from a Pi Zero. They do not have headphone ports like their beefier cousins. One option there is a reconfiguration of two of the GPIO pins. Another, hopefully easier, option is an inexpensive USB sound card. One option for the sound card is on hand and can be tested immediately. It is a model which has been around for a long time and continues to sell on eBay for one US dollar. Suitable cables are another issue. Each octave will need a way to get power and a way to send line-level audio to a central amplifier. The central amplifier will be an ordinary set of amplified computer speakers.

Power will be a powered USB hub and each device, maybe even the speakers, will pull power from it. Using the hub as a distribution point means that more parts will be easy to replace. Each octave will have a port for a micro USB cable and a 3.5mm headphone socket. Cables will be ordinary and it won’t matter which one gets plugged into the sockets. In addition to easy-to-replace parts it should be possible to step someone through the process over the phone even if the ports aren’t labeled. Audio cables will be simple 3.5mm jacks at both ends of a green cable. Green was chosen since headphone ports are color-coded green. These cables are inexpensive and easy to find at many electronics stores.

Preliminary list of materials for one octave:
Preliminary list of materials for amplifier side of Tough Pi-ano

The rest of the posts for this project have been arranged by date.

First time here?

Completed projects from year 1.
Completed projects from year 2

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2016-05-26 (Th)