Sunday, 3 June 2012

MIDI saxophone

This rather tongue-in-cheek article ( explains how I feel about learning saxophone. I bought one a few years ago, even took a few lessons, learned a few songs, but then put it back in it's case, where it's stayed ever since.

Why? I guess I'm just too considerate!
I didn't like the idea of my neighbours having to listen to the squeaks and farts that came out of the shiny bendy bit day and night, and the cost of going to someone else's house to learn and practice become prohibitive quite quickly. So I figured that one day I'd build a practice sax, that would let me learn the fingerings and notes without having to blow the thing too loudly.

That was four or five years ago.
My lovely saxophone was too nice (and too expensive) to hack, so every now and again I'd check eBay for a cheap instrument. Well, this morning, all that waiting finally paid off

Here's my new sax, ready to be fitted with a load of wires to be converted into a midi instrument. My first idea was to run some CAT5 cable through the body, then separate the wires afterwards. This very quickly proved too difficult

So I separated the cable into individual strands and placed a small weight (capacitor) at one end of each wire.

I then pushed the capacitor through an open, erm, valve? pad? hole? and wiggled it round, while feeding the wire into the body of the sax.

Eventually it appeared at the neck end of the instrument (I started feeding the wire into the larger holes in the curved bit at the bottom of the bell and worked up the instrument)

Sometimes - especially once a few wires were in place - the cap got caught up with other wires or fell into the hole of another note. If it couldn't be shaken free, a bent bit of solid-core wire was easily pushed down the next to hook it free and retrieve the other end of the wire.

After about an hour of wire-wiggling, I managed to get twelve wires from the lower 12 holes, through the instrument body and secured out of the top of the neck. Once all 24 are in place (the body has 23 holes and a 24th on the crook of the mouthpiece) then can be soldered to a PCB and hooked up to a PIC microcontroller for the MIDI fun to begin!