YouTuber Turns a 1920s Typewriter Into a MIDI Drum Machine

It might have been a primitive keyboard once, but now, it's a dance machine.
Derya Ozdemir

YouTube user William Sun Petrus brought a 1920s Remington typewriter back to life as an unusual instrument using an Arduino. This vintage typewriter might have been a primitive keyboard once, but now, it's a dance machine.

How does it work? 

While the idea is rather absurd, it most definitely makes for an easy-to-learn instrument. The engineering behind it is a tiny bit challenging than learning it, though. Petrus' contraption wires transfer, what would normally be transferred as a character onto a paper, signals to an Arduino Mega whenever a key is struck. 

The Arduino sends a corresponding signal linked with that key to the Ableton software package running on a PC.

Petrus wrote, "Ableton sees some MIDI information and understands that it needs to trigger that specific sound. This song is composed of 17 different sounds, played live for you, right here, right now."

Pretty cool, right? The beat is quite catchy too! Moreover, for the skeptics out there, the unedited version is available with keyboard sounds unmuted, which means you hear a lot of mechanical clacking noises. You can find the code for the build on GitHub

Ableton project

Moreover, you can check out this video where the YouTuber shows how to play the drum machine. He shares his tips and tricks, and the whole process looks just so fun!

After getting so much feedback, he shared the Ableton project file for anyone who wants to download it. Apparently, it is super simple and you can play it on any MIDI controller with buttons on it. He says, "Rearrange the samples to fit your hands better, make a remix, perform a cover, build that thing you thought of a few years ago." Cool, right?

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In addition to all that, there's a MIDI helper file inside the project with everything you need to know if you get stuck. He truly has thought of everything. 

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