charging up...



Foni – the one and only chalkboard phonograph drum machine!


Foni was a year-long project to design and build a unique art piece for Plymouth University to synthesise an analogue digital sound experience.

The creative coding digital art project comprised needed a whole host of components to create samples:

  • Custom-designed chalkboard vinyl to draw patterns using five different colours (each representing a different part of a drum kit)
  • Analogue phonograph hand-cranked motor to spin the vinyl
  • Stepper motor arm fitted with light and colour sensors to detect colour patterns
  • Contact speaker to transmit audible vibrations through the phonograph speaker housing
  • Arduino technology to make everything talk politely to everything else
  • A whole load of habberdash coding


The result was a truly unique instrumental art installation, allowing anyone to draw patterns and produce sweet, sweet beats. Once macroed up to my drumpad, samples could be recorded, remastered, and changed for production.


As the sole person working on this project, I learned a valuable lesson in having the right tools for the job to make expressing my vision far, far less painful.

You try drilling holes with a manual screwdriver, then coding a thousand lines of code with cut up hands…

Here’s some pictures of me gutting a lovely phonograph to augment it into a music making cyborg…











  • Designer Rob Sparks
  • Date 15 June 2014
  • Project Final year project
Categories: CodeMediaMiscellaneous