BlinkWheel's tuneful sequence is controlled by flashing LEDs
Hackspace tinkerer Koka Nikoladze has built an impressive electromechanical monophonic step sequencer called the BlinkWheel. The looped sounds are triggered when a rotating arm comes into contact with LEDs spaced out around the upper disc. A sound can be added to the sequence by popping a new LED into an available slot, or removed by simply lifting it out again. It's a joy to watch, as you can see for yourself below.
Nikoladze told us that he had intended to make BlinkWheel with high quality components, but an ordering mix up left him lacking the necessary bits and pieces so he popped along to Bitraf, his local maker space in Oslo, Norway, and set to work.
He first made 192 small holes in a wooden board, and then inserted and soldered crimp connectors in a ring, which are grounded and connected to an analog readout pin on the micro controller brain. A metal arm that has 5 volts running through it runs from the center of the upper disc to its edge, with a stepper motor moving it around the "clock face."
Every time the arm comes into contact with an anode leg of an LED placed in a slot at the edge of the static wooden face of the BlinkWheel, the little light blinks. At the same time, the voltage drops and this value is measured, and is different for each LED color. Three switches are also connected to the micro controller, which allow Nikoladze to mess around with color/dynamics of different musical lines.
These values are converted into tones by a Raspberry Pi running Csound and output, but Nikoladze told us that the device can also be used as a MIDI controller for music production software such as Ableton Live.
"It's just a step sequencer controller that gives me the amount of intended temporal variability I wanted to have," BlinkWheel's maker told us. "I could have accomplished this way easier with digital sequencing and random generators, but a piece of blinking hardware is way more fun!"
The build took two sleepless days and nights to complete and is impressive enough on its own, as you can see in the video below, but the tinkerer's website is also a lot of fun. The landing page is an interactive map of sounds and anyone can upload contributions. Check it out via the source link below.
Source: Koka Nikoladze