Several students from the Texas A&M University who probably wanted to party all night long concluded that human DJs get tired at some point, so a robotic DJ would perform a far better job. With that in mind, they proceeded to 3D printing one that brings up the beat like no other.
Rico Balakit, a computer engineering student with access to Texas A&M’s Mechanical Engineering Department 3D printing studio, developed a robotic DJ that can operate in two different modes: “Instant Gratification Scratching” and “player piano.” While the first mode links buttons to pre-programmed scratches, the second one implies playing back loops.
“I was taking a Materials Science midterm early and after completing it, I had a discussion with my professor Tanil Ozkan and his student Yasushi Mizuno, who are setting up an Open 3D Printing Studio for students to use,” explained Balakit. “They liked the idea and decided to help me out with my project by printing the parts for me; It’s fantastic being able to design a part and send it off in the evening and receive it right before my next class.”
The Turntablist Robot is a dream come true for Balakit, who has taken an interest in robotics at a very early age. “I’ve had a few people asking why I didn’t go with a purely software solution – such as emulating turntablist maneuvers via MIDI input – which indeed would be more reliable and easier to do,” he says. “I just find the mechanical mechanisms very fun to design, and it’s extremely rewarding to not just hear a perfect output, but see the action behind it physically happening in front of me. That, and robots are just really cool.”
Balakit has dedicated a page of his website to the Turntablist Robot, and has made all the documentation public, in case others are interested in 3D printing such a contraption. This is definitely not the first time music and robotics are brought together, but you would have thought that a DJ’s job is pretty safe. Turns out that with some proper programming and with someone creative enough to design the hardware, future DJs might actually be made of plastic and metal, instead of flesh and bones. Well, as long as this type of music is your cup of tea, I’d say that there won’t be much of a difference.