12 - Applications and Implications

What will it do?

My final project will be a modular ukulele. It's purpose is, from one side, to be a portable and mosular ukulele where you can exchange different bodies to get different sounds and looks to the instrument. For example, you can have an electrified body to plug the instrument to an amplifier, or have an acoustic one made of wood that will have a different sound than one 3D printed, or also have one that doesn't resonate but where you can plug a pair of headphones to practice. This modular concept gives you a lot of options to play with and to change one instrument into multiple ones.

On the other side, I also want to make a pair of necks connected between them with the purpose to teach how to play the Ukulele. The idea is to have one neck with capacitor sensors in each fret so when you press the fret it will know where you are playing, and the other neck equiped with some LED's in the neck to show the position of the teacher fingers for the student to follow along.

Who's done what beforehand?

There are a lot of examples of DIY Ukuleles, starting from the famous Oil Can Ukulele, instruments made out of trash like old oil cans and some woods to 3D print models like this one from thingiverse. Those models are easy to build and there are tutorials and demonstrations of how they sound, but my main objective is to make one with electronics in it, and I will try to make it from scratch. Here are some pictures of DIY ukulele.

What will you design?

This projects has 3 main parts, the neck, the electronics and the body. My idea is to design everything of it except the tunning pegs. In the Make something big week I made an ukulele and I 3D print the tunning pegs, but the result was a little bit dissapointing, they work fine, but they are hard to turn and doesn't hold the tune as the normal ones. For this reason I decided to buy them to do the project and work on it afterwords.

For the neck I will design the full structure that includes the nech and the bridge to get all the structure that holds the strings and do not have tunning problems changing the different bodies. Also, I will design a pair of bodies to show how it works.

What materials and components will be used?

The materials I will use are mostly wood and PLA. I will try to make the neck out of wood and one bodie with wood too as a conventional Ukulele. For the neck I need some hard wood to avoid bending it with the tension of the strings. Also, I will use the 3D printer to print the other parts as the bridge, the nut and another body.

For the electronics I have to define which component I will use, I hope to do it the next week in the Networking and Comunication week.

Where will it come from?

I have to find the provider for all of them.

How much will they cost?

Not known yet.

What parts and systems will be made?

As explained, all the parts will be made in the Fablab except for the tunning peggs.

What processes will be used?

My idea is to use as much processes as possible learned during FabAcademy:

  • 3D printing: For the bridge, the nut and one body.
  • Laser cutter: For a body made of wood.
  • Vinyl cutter: I will try to do a flexible PCB.
  • CNC: For the neck.
  • PCB milling: To make the PCB of the necks.

What questions need to be answered?

There are many questions that I have before making the real model and I will try to answer them when the first model is done:

  • How will I join the two parts to make it rigid?
  • Will the neck absorve all the tension of the strings without bending or breaking?
  • Will the wireless communication be fast enought to light the Ukulele at the same time as the other is played?
  • Will the different bodies have a different sound or they will just sound bad?
  • I will try to create contact between the bridge and the body to create the ressonance, will it be enought? Or it should be sticked to the body?

How will it be evaluated?

As it is the first prototype I will be more than proud of it if it sounds and it lights up. I know there will be a million of thing to make better and to improve, but my purpose is to make it sound and start making a model easy to learn and Open Source so everyone could fabricate it's own instrument and play it.