The Kitsch-Instrument

The Kitsch-Instrument is a way to make music with every day objects. It uses modular hardware interface and a custom solenoid driver shield for Arduino Uno.

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Attaching Solenoids

A series of attachments make it possible to attach these small 5V solenoids to various objects.



(1) Hanger; (2) Stand; (3) Suction Cup


The driver shield  can use either the 5V Arduino supply or an external power supply to drive big fat solenoids.shield-assembled shield-kit

The shield also sports a socket for an XBee to trigger your solenoids wirelessly. The Solenoid circuit uses an N-Channel MOSFET to enable a low power Arduino pin to turn on a higher power voltage source. The solenoid driver circuit looks like this:


Make a groove

My favorite way to trigger these is with a fairly basic musical algorithm. Driven by an underlying beat, it uses chance to determine whether or not to trigger. The likelihood of a solenoid firing on a given beat is based on the value read at the corresponding analog input and tempo is controlled by another.

It works as a standalone Arduino project but with an audio programming language like Pure Data where you can easily create sequencer or use other musical algorithms. Here’s a patch I’ve used which performs the “likelihood” algorithm:



Random numbers are generated every beat, if it is greater than the value read by the sensor then go boom, or click at least!!!


Bonus pics of me trying to conduct the audience at TEI and kids playing at the demo session:


15 - 4 15 - 6


The Pd patch chance-beat2 is one of the modular-muse examples in the Pd library.

download arduino code here.

download EAGLE PCB files for the shield here.

download the paper from TEI 2015 here: tei278-harriman-paper

For more on me and my work:


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