New Kit Makes Building MIDI-Controlled Music Robots Easy

Developer Johannes Lohbihler has introduced the dadamachines automat toolkit – a plug & play MIDI-controller and accessories kit that makes it easy to create MIDI-controlled music robots.

The core of the toolkit is the automat, an arduino-compatible MIDI-controller with 12 DC outputs. The automat can be used with your favorite music software or hardware. The toolkit includes the automat and a series of solenoid beaters that plug in to the 12 outputs,  letting you tap, ping and knock on anything.

Here’s the official intro video:

Automat System Overview:

The automat lets you plug in in DIN or USB MIDI gear then it turns your MIDI notes into gates that control the solenoids. The Arduino brain translates NoteOn / NoteOff Messages into control of the solenoid.

Tech Specs:

  • automat controller
  • Connectivity
    • USB Midi
    • DIN Midi-In & Thru (Out option)
    • 12 DC Outputs (12-24V max. 1.3A)
    • External power supply 12-24V
    • Arduino shields & extension port
  • Software
    • Simple learn mode >1 button click
    • Advanced learn mode
  • Hardware
    • Anodized aluminum panel
    • Powder coated steel shell
    • Dimensions – 110 x 110 x 26mm
  • Additionally, each toolkit comes with adapters & elements helping the users to get started easily.

Lohbihler has other plans, if there is interest, including: a desktop configuration app, CV/Gate via an extension port and additional accessories.

Pricing and Availability

Production of the automat toolkit is being funded via a Kickstarter project. It’s available in several versions, ranging from the automat board for 89 euro to a kit with 6 soloids and accessories for 399 euro. The project is already fully funded.

8 thoughts on “New Kit Makes Building MIDI-Controlled Music Robots Easy

  1. This is a fun idea, and I think it would be a cool addition to a school for kids to build fun rhythm machines.

    I don’t think you can program intensity/velocity of the solenoid. And I don’t think this includes any means to record what you’ve made, so you’d need another layer of gear to capture the sounds, if that is what you wanted to do.

    Of course, you can just hit the objects yourself with your own hands, and play expressive rhythms– with dynamics and human-feel. But I get it, this is an interesting blend of hands-on, and hands off. Looks like a fun gadget for a particular kind of thing. A $400 MIDI controlled doorbell.

    1. Not everything has to sound “expressive”. If this thing can hit a percussive instrument with equal velocity all the time, it gives you different musical possibilities than your good old hands.

  2. you can determine the velocity of a solenoid hit by modulating the duration of the impulse that drives it. There’s something very fascinating about having machines do something you could do by hand. Not everybody’s cup of tea, but interesting to explore to me.

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