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This 8-Bit Life | September 27, 2016

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808 State: The Drum Machine Re-imagined - This 8-Bit Life

Leland Flynn

What you see in the music video above is pretty spectacular. Many of you reading this will probably know right away what you were seeing but in case you did not, this is a drum machine, recreated using full-sized instruments played by robots. I’ll give you a moment to let all that awesome sink in.

All good? Cool, let’s get back to it.

Specifically what this collection of robots does is replicate the very famous Roland TR-808 drum machine. If you have heard a pop, hip-hop, or rock track in the past 40 years then you have heard it or a digital version of it. This machine, built by musician/roboticist Moritz Simon Geist, is a love letter to the classic 80’s sound maker. And it’s a truly beautiful love letter.

Geist (pictured left) relied everyone’s favorite little development board to pull this off, the Arduino. An Arduino Uno and a Mega tie the project together (you can see a basic schematic on his site here); the former controls the Mosfet that in turn drives the solenoids, and the latter handles the Pulse Width Modulation for lighting.

Dubbed MR-808, his robotic drum machine has appeared in the music video above for his synth-pop group called Science Fiction Children. It will also be making its live-performance debut on 11.15.2012 at the Media Arts Festival CYNETART in Dresden-Hellerau, Germany.

I would love to see something like this in person but I suppose I will have to be contented with awesome videos like these.

If you would like to know more about MR-808 or Moritz I would suggest checking out his excellent website Sonic Robots.


MR-808 – mechanic drum robot from Sonic Robots on Vimeo.

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