Electronics and code and whatnot are great fun, but a lot of people want to know, how can they add actual, physical motion to a project? I’ve rounded up the last few odds and ends from the London Music Hackday organized in the offices of The Guardian, and came across Alistair MacDonald and Mr. Duck’s Percussion Machine, which uses Arduino with servos to strike beer bottles.

Here’s the perspective of the non-techie on the affair from the newspaper’s music blog:
Beats and geeks at Music Hack Day

Of course, I’ve heard from at least a couple of people that for this audience, you’re not entirely ready to do all your work in the cloud. APIs. Yawn – the computer musician audience still is happiest with as much CPU power as they can muster, live sound making in native code on a local machine, and, you know – rocking out. But that to me is a bit interesting in itself.

Also from the hackday:

While the Arduino is ideal for hard projects, software projects turn to the fuzzy textile-friendly Arduino LilyPad. (Side note: the LilyPad turns out not quite the perfect tool for all occasions, and a discussion of all soft electronics may be what’s next. But it is a good starting point.)

Rain Ashford used the LilyPad to make an interactive felt cat named TwinkleStarduino. Just don’t cross the streams – er, threads: “Yep – all the components are connected by conductive thread – none of these must touch each other or you’ll get a short circuit – which is a challenge in itself :-)”


Rain’s blog post discusses some of the challenges of the project and some of the things that went wrong, which I quite like. (One of the goals I set out for our own music hackday last month was to break s***.)

Musichackday 2009 – my hack: TwinkleStarduino [I like cats]

For fans of RjDj, the interactive music engine for the iPhone and iPod touch, here’s an example of the sort of work you can hack together in a day with the help of patching environment Pd:

ShakeNRoll by ookoi

Lastly, photos by organizer Dave Haynes:

And yes, it sounds like the EchoNest is interested in doing a hackday here in America. And with the help of the site we’re building, noisepages, we definitely plan more hackdays on CDM, too, with a CDM-style focus. Stay tuned.