Another musical variation…

by on Apr.03, 2009, under Uncategorized

lazzor music! from hypatia on Vimeo.

One of the HackLab members, Jed, wrote some code to turn music into lazzor motions. The result is this brilliant interpretation of the Super Mario theme :)

8 Comments for this entry

  • bryce

    Alright… that’s pretty cool. How does that work exactly?

  • ekobor

    I wonder what the result would look like if you put something in? Visual representation of music?


    Even though i hated mario games because of difficlt lvls this is the on thing i loved. the mario theme on a laser cutter how neat =D =P ^-^ =)

  • NZero

    Congrats on makin Hack A Day :)

  • Kawaii


    The laser cutter has stepper motors and these motors are like the the same ones that they had in old scanners and by varying the frequency of the steps you can make it make music

  • Alan Parekh

    Well done. Was a standard controller used with some custom speed movements?

  • Laze Laserson

    Seems a FAQ is called for:

    Q: What is going on here?
    A: A laser engraving machine is making music.

    Q: Is it real?
    A: Yes.

    Q: No, really?
    A: Really.

    Q: Is the machine actually making the sound or just moving in sync with it?
    A: It’s making all the sound.

    Q: How does it do that?
    A: The stepper motors are moved at particular speeds to generate musical notes.

    Q: What is a stepper motor?
    A: A motor that moves in small, precise steps.

    Q: How are they controlled?
    A: By CNC software called EMC2 which is fed G-code, which is normally used to manufacture things. The musical G-code is generated by some Ruby code I wrote. You can get it here:

    Q: Is that two different tracks I hear?
    A: Yes.

    Q: Did you record them separately and overdub?
    A: No, neither the audio nor video were edited in any way.

    Q: How did you get two tracks when only one motor is moving?
    A: There is a motor that moves the table up/down. It’s playing the bassline. The left/right motor was too quiet so I didn’t use it.

    Q: Why can’t I see the table moving?
    A: It moves very slowly (2000 steps/inch). You can see it moving in this video:

    Q: Are some of the notes wrong?
    A: No, but one of the sequences exceeds the physical limits of the motors and so it doesn’t sound right.

    Q: Do you have too much time on your hands?
    A: No, that is impossible.

    Q: Did you do this on company time?
    A: No, I am unemployed.

    Q: Where did you get a laser?
    A: The hacklab bought it for $500 off craigslist and brought it back to life. Story here:

    Q: Can it play speech/MP3s?
    A: No, the steppers are limited to about 2.5khz which is enough to make some musical tones but not enough to reproduce arbitrary sound. You might be able to use them as voice coils but they wouldn’t actually move.

    Q: What would happen if you turned on the laser?
    A: It would cut a straight vertical line.

    Q: Hasn’t this already been done by other people?
    A: Yes, many.

    Q: Then why did you do it?
    A: The first time we heard the machine running, we knew we had to make music with it. Also, it was fun.

    Q: Don’t you have anything better to do?
    A: Yes.

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