HOW IT WORKS
The main computer in the saxophone, an Arduino Uno, is a microcontroler that operates on the coding language Arduino C. We programmed it so when certain combinations of buttons are pressed it defines a “Note” variable to the corresponding tone. The saxophone mouthpiece connects via a tube to an On/Off pressure sensor. Because this switch is inline with the speaker, blowing into the sax and pressing a combination of buttons plays a note.
HOW WE MADE IT
Although the project started in a computer science class, it quickly evolved into something bigger. We started using a breadboard, jumper wires, a piezo speakers and some pushbuttons to make a small prototype. Eager to make a body for the circuitry, we carved a life sized drywall model and covered it in fiberglass. After cutting it in half and removing the drywall interior, we had a lightweight saxophone-shaped shell. We drilled some holes to mount the button switches and secured a speaker to the inside. We inserted the rest of the components, used three bolts to hold it all together, and gave it a funky paint job. Most of the construction was done during lunch and free blocks at school. Because most of our work was done in these small 30 minute increments we had to focus on little achievements and improvements. Over the course of a year, we modified the saxophone and the code to add new features.
WHY WE MADE IT
In computer science class we were learning how to use arduinos and buttons to make sound. We were interested in applying what we had learned to so we decided to build an electric saxophone. We felt that creating a functioning saxophone would be a challenging project, but a broad enough idea that we could approach it from a number of angles.
AWARDS AND FEATURES IN THE MEDIA
The Electric Saxophone won two editors' choice awards and a "Best in Class" award from the 2016 World Maker Faire in New York. According to PC Magazine, it is one of "The Coolest Projects at Maker Faire 2016."