Beat Blox

Arduino makers project - Beat Blox


Beat Blox is a clever system for creating beats developed by Swedish designer Per Holmquist that utilizes small blocks placed on a turntable. The faux record player’s arm uses proximity sensors to detect when a block passes beneath it, creating one of a number of synthesized sounds. Holmquist’s current system utilizes three turntables programmed to play keyboard, drum, and bass sounds, respectively, all turning at the same speed, so the beats are always in sync. The creation allows anyone to create music in a tangible, fun and literary hands on way!


What have you made?

Beat Blox it is a music machine witch allows you to crate a beat just by playing with some Blocks. No skills in producing music or playing an instrument is needed. Just some curiosity and creativity, witch I believe everyone’s got.

What gave you the initial inspiration?

I have always wanted to create music, but never had the patience to learn how to play an instrument. So, I wanted to build something that allowed me and others to just play around with sounds in an tangible way and instantly create music. And be able to focus on being creative and have fun rather then struggling to learn an instrument.

What is the original idea behind this project?

To let people create something even if they don’t know a craft, like playing an instrument for example.

How does it work?

The entire system comprises three separate turntable stations, each one with their own Arduino board. Each Arduino mimics a different instrument: One plays the drums, another plays the bass and the third plays the melody. To use it, players just put little blocks on the turntable platter. Distance sensors cling to the underside of the turntable arm; as players add blocks to the spinning platter, the sensors trigger a specific sound depending on witch track the block is placed.

How long did it take to make it real?

I spent 10 weeks on the project. But a lot of the time was spent on figuring out what to do and why.

How did you build it?

I used there regular turntables, som mdf-board, three arduinos with midi-shields, 15 ir-sensors and some wires and stuff. I also got some great help from my friends Mårten and Jacob to make the code fulfilled!