There is just something about Arduino that never ceases to amaze – it does seem to be able to do just about anything and everything, assuming you have a keen programming mind to go along with it. The Vibrotron that you see here is the handiwork of the Carnegie Melon University robotics club, where it is actually a piece of a larger project known as the robOrchestra.
The mechanics in action do not really require that much explanation, and fret not about not having a rocket science degree – that too, is not required to understand how it works. Starting off with two reservoirs of small steel balls, where one of them is located at the bottom while the other is on top, the bottom ones will be fed to the top ones via an Archimedes’ screw. The moment they reach the top, they are dispensed via some tubing down to plink off of a vibraphone key. All timing will be performed through solenoids that are mounted at the end of the tubes. As for the final product, it does seem to resemble Animusic animations which were released some time back.
This system is meant to be an automated and reconfigurable bot, so Arduino is used to control the solenoids. Through Arduino, they are able to change songs according to their whims and fancies.