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Relive the ‘80s with a MIDI-controlled Scanjet keytar

Relive the ‘80s with a MIDI-controlled Scanjet keytar

The ‘80s may be long gone, but James Cochrane is bringing the keytar back with the help of an old HP Scanjet. For this, the Maker has taken an Arduino, a stepper motor shield, an optocoupler and an off-the-shelf MIDI keyboard for input, and integrated it into the flatbed scanner’s original features. The end result: the world’s first (and only) MIDI-controlled HP Scanjet keytar.

As he describes in his YouTube video:

This scanner had a hidden command set within the Scanner Control Language which allows you to send musical notes directly to the stepper motor. This is a tedious method where you have to enter the notes and durations manually into a text file (similar to G-code on a CNC machine). I have always used and will always use this method for my old school music videos; however, I wanted to try and build a MIDI-controlled stepper motor.

One day I had one of my HP Scanjets sitting on its side and for some reason it resembled a Roland SH-101 and that’s when I came up with the idea for the HP Scanjet Keytar. What a great way to merge both into a musical instrument.

Those wishing to relive the days of the classic yet quirky keytar are in luck. Cochrane has provided a detailed breakdown of the device in the video below, and has shared its code on GitHub.