Wireless MIDI Floor Piano

11/2013

Inspired by the many different DIY pressure plates that popped up on the internet right before Halloween, and the piano scene from the movie Big, I decided to make a big floor piano myself using pressure plates made out of cardboard and aluminum foil as the keys. In order to train myself to be spontaneous and not to overthink about all the details, I enlisted the help of my friends - Jason Chen, Justin Zhang, and Steve Wang - to build this piano within 24 hours at HackDuke 2013.

As the team leader and the only ECE major on the team, I was responsible for organizing brainstorming sessions to come up with key system features, providing technical guidance to all team members, and designing all the electrical circuits. In the end, we successfully created a 25-key piano that functions as a wireless MIDI controller. While playing the piano, you can use the remote to easily shift up or down octaves, switch between different MIDI instruments, and enter the tutorial mode where the piano teaches you how to play songs by turning on the LED strips on the keys.

The video shows my friend Jason Kim and I playing a few different songs on the piano. (I had to connect a power supply to the piano when shooting the video because the LiPo batteries powering the electronics in the box had just died.) Below are some pictures showing a revision of the pressure plate design, the major components of the system, and the communication scheme between these components. The source code for this project is available here.