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.