Rico Balakit is a computer engineering student at Texas A&M University with access to the 3D printing studio at the Mechanical Engineering Department, and he quite literally likes building things from scratch.
Balakit has built a “robot DJ” from 3D printed parts which is capable of gating a crossfader and manipulating a vinyl record in time with a given beat.
His idea was to create a robotic system which is able to perform “turntablist scratches” with high precision and synchronized with Traktor. He said the goal was that the device could perform in two modes: first as a reliable “Instant Gratification Scratching” system where buttons are assigned pre-programmed scratch routines, and second the turntable equivalent of a “player piano” which employs music loops and random patterns.
The system is made up of two mechanisms. The first, a simple crank powered by a single servo and attached to the mixer, controls a crossfader.
The second component of the system is a swinging arm powered by two servos. One servo pivots directly over the turntable’s axis of rotation and controls the “scratching” motion, and the other servo controls the arm if it’s pushing down on the record.
Balakit says most of the electronics were found on Amazon, an Arduino Mega2560 and the Sunfounder Project Starter Kit among them. The servo motors and servo mounting hardware came from a local Hobby Town store and the other “raw materials” were found.
The 3D printed parts for the later prototypes – and very likely for the finished robots – were printed out at the Texas A&M University lab.
“I was taking a Materials Science midterm early and after completing it, I had a discussion with my professor Tanil Ozkan and his student Yasushi Mizuno, who are setting up an Open 3D Printing Studio for students to use,” Balakit says. “They liked the idea and decided to help me out with my project by printing the parts for me; It’s fantastic being able to design a part and send it off in the evening and receive it right before my next class.”
“I’ve had a few people asking why I didn’t go with a purely software solution – such as emulating turntablist maneuvers via MIDI input – which indeed would be more reliable and easier to do,” he says. “I just find the mechanical mechanisms very fun to design, and it’s extremely rewarding to not just hear a perfect output, but see the action behind it physically happening in front of me. That, and robots are just really cool.”
If you’d like to see complete documentation for the Turntablist Robot, you can check out Balakits’ site here.
What do you think of this 3D printed DeeJay? Do you think you’ll see any of these in the clubs in the near future? Let us know in the 3D Printed DeeJay forum thread on 3DPB.com.