BeetBox turns root vegetables into a musical instrument
By Dave Parrack
December 17, 2012
Musical instruments come in many shapes and sizes, but BeetBox must be one of the strangest. It may exist more to be a play on words than anything else, but it also proves that with the right equipment and a little engineering knowledge, anything can be turned into an instrument ... including, as is the case here, root vegetables.
Scott Garner is a Texas-born 30-something who describes himself as "unemployable in a conventional sense" but "okay at making things [and] ... almost uncannily good at talking about them." So, he's "very interested in commissions to create interactive installations for festivals and for speaking opportunities."
Garner's thinking behind BeetBox was to explore "perspective and expectations." The technology that makes BeetBox work is hidden inside the wooden cabinet, leaving a very simple instrument that anyone can play without the need to think about how it works.
Inside the cabinet is a Raspberry Pi Model B computer hooked up to an MPR121 capacitive touch sensor. A Python script detects any touches on the beets, and plays drum samples using the pygame gaming module system. The sounds produced are fed to an LM386-based amp and on to a speaker located behind the holes in the wood.
BeetBox isn't going to be commercially available, instead being created as a project for two different classes. However, anyone interested in crafting their own version of this strangely compelling musical instrument can view the source code on GitHub. The video below shows some of Garner's friends testing BeetBox.