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[SIGMusic] solenoids and motors

Unfortunatley I am sick and will miss this weeks meeting. However, since last week's meeting I wrote to Christine Southworth of Ensemble Robot southsea@xxxxxxxxxxx and Eric Singer of Lemur info@xxxxxxxxxxxxx for advice about parts. The following is a copy of my message and the replies that I received.
>I am a member of sigmusic at the University of Illinois at Urbana
>Champaign. We are a student organization that works on applications
>of computer science to music. One of our projects involves the
>creation of robots that play traditional musical instruments. We
>have a limited budget and wanted to avoid purchasing parts that
>would not suit our needs. Thus, we were wondering what types of
>solenoids and other motors are useful for playing musical
>instruments. Our first bot will play the recorder. We need solenoids
>to close the finger holes.
>We also want to make a robot that plays brass instruments. However
>we could not create buzzing lips. Do you know how to make anything
>like this? Another problem that we did not have a clue about was how
>to operate a single reed mouthpiece.
>Good parts are not always easy to find. Do you know of a reliable
>supplier? I was recommended to the robotstore.com Do you have any
>experience with them?
>Thanks for your time.
>Michael Berger

Your easiest source for motors is jameco.com. For solenoids, we use
mcmaster.com's tubular solenoids. What you use depends highly on your
application, and it's difficult to know in advance until you have the
parts in hand. Luckily, all of these companies accept returns. So my
suggestion is to order a few things that look like what you'll need,
evaluate them when they arrive, and return the rest.

As LEMUR generally creates the instruments to be played as well as
the robotics, we build the instruments around the robotic
capabilities. I'd reframe the problem: don't try to play a brass or
woodwind instrument the way a human does; figure out how a robot
could do it. Remember, the mouthpiece is creating a certain kind of
noise source for you. It doesn't need to be simulated buzzing lips.


I am the acoustic guy for Ensemble Robot, and it is great to hear 
that others are interested in this stuff too!  I don't know about the 
solinoids, hopefully someone else will respond to that part of your 
question, but in terms of a brass instrument lips buzzing and a 
woodwind single reed mouthpiece, your best bet is either to include 
someone in your project who already plays these instruments, and try 
to talk with them about how they play.  To try to describe it in an e-
mail would be almost impossible.  When you finish a prototype, even 
take it to a clarinet or sax teacher for a "lesson".  I wish you the 
best of luck with these ideas, because the subtle variations in 
muscle tension and airpressure are very difficult to control.  For 
some pictures of how the embouchure is formed you could go to any 
music store that sells teaching materials and get some beginner books.