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Make Music in Your Kitchen

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Difficulty
Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability This project requires a Science Buddies Raspberry Pi Projects Kit available from the Science Buddies Store. The kit can be used to do seven other projects. Estimated project time includes shipping for the kit. The project itself will take less than one day.
Cost Very High (over $150)

Abstract

When you were little, did you ever make "music" in your kitchen by banging kitchen utensils on pots and pans? What if you could actually take those kitchen implements now, and play them with different sound effects? In this project, you can convert basic kitchen utensils into your own electronic drum set using the Science Buddies Raspberry Pi Projects Kit. Check out the video to see what this simple, but fun, project looks like:


Video for Raspberry PI Project 2 Electronic Drumset https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LvwDNYWUEN4

This project requires use of a tiny computer called a Raspberry Pi and is fun and easy for even complete beginners. By following the step-by-step directions that come with the kit, you will set up a simple circuit that connects metal kitchen implements together, then write a short computer program. The program is written in a language called Scratch, which is easy to use; just click and drag to snap together colorful blocks of instructions. Once you learn how to make a basic drum set, you can keep tinkering with it by adding even more objects to use as drums.

You can do this project just for fun, or turn it into an engineering or science project. To make it an engineering project, you will need to follow the engineering design process. Start by defining what you want your electronic drum set to be able to do, then work through the rest of the design process until you have a completed drum set to show off at your science fair.

If you want to use this for a science project, you will need to follow the scientific method. Start by coming up with a question for which you can use the electronic drum set as a tool to help answer. For example, in order for the drum set to work, your "drums" need to conduct electricity. Can you use the drum set as a test to determine which materials are electrically conductive, and which ones are not?

Are you ready to get started? All the parts needed to complete this project, including complete step-by-step directions, are available in the Science Buddies Raspberry Pi Projects Kit. The kit also contains parts and directions for seven other fun projects!

Credits

Ben Finio, PhD, Science Buddies

Cite This Page

MLA Style

Finio, Ben. "Make Music in Your Kitchen" Science Buddies. Science Buddies, 28 July 2017. Web. 24 Sep. 2017 <https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project-ideas/CompSci_p054/computer-science/make-music-in-your-kitchen>

APA Style

Finio, B. (2017, July 28). Make Music in Your Kitchen. Retrieved September 24, 2017 from https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project-ideas/CompSci_p054/computer-science/make-music-in-your-kitchen

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Last edit date: 2017-07-28

Materials and Equipment Product Kit Available

The following materials are available in the Science Buddies Store:

  • Science Buddies Raspberry Pi Projects Kit (1); you will need the following components from the kit:
    • Raspberry Pi Model B+
    • SD card
    • Plastic case
    • Micro-USB power supply
    • HDMI cable
    • GPIO ribbon cable
    • Pi Wedge breadboard adapter
    • Breadboard
    • Male-male jumper wires (5)
    • Alligator clip leads (5)

You will also need the following materials, not included in the kit:

  • Television or computer monitor with HDMI connection
    • An HDMI cable is included in the Raspberry Pi kit
    • See our Raspberry Pi FAQ for information on non-HDMI connections
  • USB keyboard and mouse
  • Metal objects to use as drums (4) and a drumstick (1); aluminum foil is a good substitute.
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Project Kit: $139.95
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

If you are having trouble with this project, please read the FAQ below. You may find the answer to your question.

If you have questions about how to use your Raspberry Pi Projects Kit, please start by reading the following FAQ. You may find your answer there. If the FAQ does not answer your question, please post the question in the Raspberry Pi Projects Kit forum at Ask an Expert. Note that the forum is staffed by volunteers, and you may need to wait a day or two for your answer. In order to post a question in the forum, you will need to create (and activate) an Ask an Expert account. Questions about purchasing the kit should be emailed to help@sciencebuddies.org.

Kit General Questions

Setting Up and Using Your Raspberry Pi Projects Kit

Kit General Answers

Q: I think a part from my kit is missing or defective. Who can I talk to?
A: Problems with the components in the kit are extremely rare, but do occasionally happen. If you believe your kit is missing a part, or contains a defective part, please contact customer support at help@sciencebuddies.org with details. Please be sure and include your order number from the Science Buddies Store with your email. Describe your problem as completely as you can. If photos are appropriate, please include a photo of the problem. (Customer support may also request photos.)

Q: Who is the kit appropriate for?
A: The kit is meant for anyone (ages 8 and up) who wants to learn some basic programming and electronics skills while having fun. Students up to age 10, or older if their reading skills are behind grade level, may need adult assistance in reading and following the on-screen instructions. The projects included in the kit were beta tested and approved by students ages 8 to 16.

Q: Are the kit parts reusable?
A: Yes, all the electronics components in the kit can be used over and over to do new projects or to repeat the Science Buddies kit activities.

Q: I broke one of my electronics components or I need more of a certain part. Can I buy more?
The Science Buddies Store does not sell individual parts for the Raspberry Pi Projects Kit. If you need additional supplies for use with your Raspberry Pi exploration, we recommend purchasing them directly from an electronics supplier like Sparkfun or Jameco.

Q: Aren't there other Raspberry Pi kits on the market? How is yours different?
A: Yes, there are other Raspberry Pi kits, and some of them are quite good! The Science Buddies Raspberry Pi Projects Kit has been designed to contain the specific materials needed to do the accompanying Science Buddies Raspberry Pi Kit activities. Our kit is specifically meant for people who have no prior experience programming or connecting circuits. It is 100% beginner friendly with clear on-screen instructions, videos, and screenshots and diagrams. And we, humbly, think it's one of the most fun kits out there! But, if you are already an ace programmer or electronics guru, you may not find this the best fit for your own personal use. It may, however, be a fun way for you to introduce others to programming and electronics.

Q: What programming language does the kit use?
A: The kit uses a version of Scratch (a language developed by the MIT Media Lab) called ScratchGPIO5 (created by Simon Walters of simplesi.net). Scratch is a graphical coding language in which you snap pre-made blocks of code together to make programs. It allows beginners to focus on the logic steps needed to write a good program without getting caught up in worrying about the right syntax. Scratch was originally developed as an entry-level programming language for students ages 8-16. ScratchGPIO has the added advantage of allowing users to control the GPIO pins found on the Raspberry Pi so that programs can interact with the physical world.

Setting Up and Using Your Raspberry Pi Projects Kit Answers

Q: How do I connect my Raspberry Pi to my TV or computer monitor?
A: Follow this table to help connect your Raspberry Pi:

If your TV or monitor has a port
that looks like...
It is called... Does it carry sound? To connect to it, you need... Which looks like...
HDMI port
HDMI
(best)

which stands for...

High-Definition Multimedia Interface
Yes, if TV or monitor has built-in speakers An HDMI cable, included in your Raspberry Pi kit!
HDMI cable
DVI port
DVI
(second best)

which stands for...

Digital Visual Interface
No (requires separate headphones or speakers) An HDMI to DVI cable, available from Amazon.com
HDMI to  DVI cable
VGA port
VGA
(avoid if possible)

which stands for...

Video Graphics Array
No (requires separate headphones or speakers) An HDMI to VGA adapter available from Adafruit.com, and a VGA cable, available from Adafruit.com and Amazon.com
HDMI to VGA adapter

VGA cable
Note: Science Buddies tested an HDMI to VGA adapter from Amazon.com and it did not work (even though the product reviews mentioned it working with the Raspberry Pi), so we recommend the adapter from Adafruit.com.
component RCA ports
RCA
(avoid if possible)

which stands for...

Radio Corporation of America
Yes, if TV or monitor has built-in speakers A 4-pole 3.5 mm to RCA A/V cable, available from Amazon.com
RCA cable

Q: Why won't my Raspberry Pi turn on?
A: If your Raspberry Pi will not turn on, go through this checklist to make sure everything is set up properly.
  1. Make sure your SD card is pushed in all the way. You should hear an audible "click" when it is pushed into the slot.

    raspberry pi SD card slot

  2. Make sure the green LED on your micro-USB power adapter is lit up. This means the adapter is receiving power from the wall outlet. If the LED is not on, make sure the wall outlet is not controlled by a light switch. Try plugging a lamp or other appliance into the outlet to make sure the outlet works.

    raspberry pi dc adapter

  3. Make sure the red power LED (labeled "PWR") on your Raspberry Pi is on. This means the Raspberry Pi is receiving power from the micro-USB port. If the LED is not on, make sure you pushed the micro-USB connector into the micro-USB port all the way.
    raspberry pi power LED

  4. When you first plug the micro-USB cable in, the green LED (labeled "ACT") should flash several times. This LED lights up when the Raspberry Pi reads data from the SD card. If it does not light up, your SD card might not be inserted properly. Go back to step 1.
    raspberry pi act led

  5. Make sure your display (television or monitor) is turned on. If your display is turned off, you will not see anything on the screen, even if the Raspberry Pi is on.
  6. Make sure your display is set to the correct input. Many modern televisions have more than one HDMI input, and some computer monitors have DVI or VGA inputs in addition to HDMI. Most displays have an "input" button that will let you cycle through different inputs.

Q: My Raspberry Pi starts to boot up, but then it freezes or the screen goes blank. What is wrong?
A: There may be a problem with your Raspberry Pi or SD card. Please contact us at help@sciencebuddies.org for assistance.

Q: Can I use a laptop as a display and/or keyboard?
A: The short answer is "no." Many newer laptops have HDMI ports, but they only function as HDMI out, to send a video signal from the laptop to a television or projector. They do not work as HDMI in to display an external signal on the laptop's screen. The laptop's keyboard is only designed to work with the laptop itself, not as a standalone keyboard for an external device like the Raspberry Pi.

Q: My screen is not displaying at the proper resolution. How can I adjust the Raspberry Pi's display resolution?
A: The Raspberry Pi should auto-detect the proper resolution for your monitor or TV. If this does not work at first, try rebooting your Raspberry Pi. If the resolution is still wrong, you will need to edit settings in a "configuration file" called config.txt. You can find more information about this process here, but we recommend having someone familiar with the Linux operating system help you do this.

Q: Why is there a black border around the edge of my screen?
A: If there is a black border around the edge of your screen, you can fix it by following these steps:
  • Click the Menu button in the lower left corner of your screen. This opens a menu similar to the Windows start menu. Hover your mouse over Accessories, then click on Terminal. This opens a window where you can type in commands.
  • At the command prompt, type sudo raspi-config and press "Enter."
  • In the menu that pops up, use the down arrow to scroll down to Advanced Options and press "Enter."
  • Press "Enter" to select Overscan.
  • Press "Enter" to select Disable.
  • Use the right arrow to scroll to Finish and press "Enter."
  • When prompted to reboot, press "Enter" to select Yes.
  • Your Raspberry Pi should reboot, and the black borders around the edge of your screen should be gone.

Q: Why are the edges of my screen cut off?
A: If the edges of your screen are cut off, you can fix it by following these steps:
  • Click the Menu button in the lower left corner of your screen. This opens a menu similar to the Windows start menu. Hover your mouse over Accessories, then click on Terminal. This opens a window where you can type in commands.
  • At the command prompt, type sudo raspi-config and press "Enter."
  • In the menu that pops up, use the down arrow to scroll down to Advanced Options and press "Enter."
  • Press "Enter" to select Overscan.
  • Use the right arrow to select Enable and press "Enter."
  • Use the right arrow to scroll to Finish and press "Enter."
  • When prompted to reboot, press "Enter" to select Yes.
  • Your Raspberry Pi should reboot, and your desktop should properly fill the monitor without spilling over the edges.

Q: My computer monitor does not have built-in speakers. How can I get sound?
A: If your computer monitor does not have built-in speakers, you can use any type of regular external computer speakers or headphones that have a 3.5 mm stereo plug with your Raspberry Pi. 3.5 mm stereo plugs look like this (the color of the cable might vary, for example iPod® headphones are usually white):
3.5mm audio plug

Plug the speakers or headphones into your Raspberry Pi's 3.5 mm jack, which is next to the HDMI port.


Q: I have everything connected properly, why can't I hear any sound?
A: Sometimes the Raspberry Pi does not automatically detect the proper sound source, so you need to tell it to do this manually. If you have video working on your display, but no sound, follow these steps:
  • Click the Menu button in the lower left corner of your screen. This opens a menu similar to the Windows start menu. Hover your mouse over Accessories, then click on Terminal. This opens a window where you can type in commands.
  • At the command prompt, type sudo raspi-config and press "Enter."
  • In the menu that pops up, use the down arrow to scroll down to Advanced Options and press "Enter."
  • Use the down arrow to scroll down to Audio and press "Enter."
  • Use the down arrow to scroll down and select either Force HDMI or Force 3.5mm ('headphone') jack, depending on which type of sound you have connected, and press "Enter."
  • Use the right arrow to scroll to Finish and press "Enter."

Try to avoid other simple mistakes:

  • If you are using external speakers, make sure they are powered on.
  • If you are using a television or monitor with built-in speakers, make sure they are not muted and that the volume is turned up.
  • Make sure that you are running a Scratch program that will actually play sounds. The simplest program you can write to test if your sound is working is:
Scratch play sound

Q: How do I adjust the volume on my Raspberry Pi?
A: The best way to adjust the volume is to use external volume controls on your TV, computer monitor, or speakers. If this is not an option (for example, if you are using headphones), then:
  • Open a command terminal by selecting Menu→Accessories→Terminal
  • Type alsamixer and press "Enter"
  • Use the up and down arrows to adjust the volume
  • Press "Esc" to exit the volume control application.

Q: How can I change the system time on my Raspberry Pi?
A: Similar to Windows computers, your Raspberry Pi displays the time in the lower-right corner of the desktop. By default, the SD card in your Science Buddies kit is set to United States, Pacific Time. To change the time zone, follow these steps:
  • Click the Menu button in the lower left corner of your screen. This opens a menu similar to the Windows start menu. Hover your mouse over Accessories, then click on Terminal. This opens a window where you can type in commands.
  • At the command prompt, type sudo raspi-config and press "Enter."
  • Use the down arrow to scroll down to Internationalisation Options and press "Enter."
  • Use the down arrow to select Change Timezone and press "Enter."
  • Use the arrow keys to select your geographic region (such as "US") and press "Enter."
  • Use the arrow keys to select your time zone (such as "Central") and press "Enter."

Q: I accidentally deleted a desktop icon! How do I launch the programs?
A: The Raspberry Pi has a menu in the lower-left corner of the screen that you can access by clicking the Menu button in the lower left corner of your screen. This brings up an interface very similar to the Windows start menu. You can use this to access all the different programs that come installed on the Raspberry Pi. You can find the Science Buddies programs under the Science Buddies folder. To add a desktop shortcut for a program, right-click it and select Add to desktop.

Q: My Raspberry Pi froze and is not responding to mouse or keyboard input. What should I do?
A: First, be patient and give the Raspberry Pi a few minutes to try and process whatever it was doing. If you click on a whole bunch of things in rapid succession, or run a really complicated Scratch program, the Raspberry Pi might just slow down or freeze temporarily.

Next, if you are using a wireless keyboard and mouse, make sure they have fresh batteries.

Finally, as a last resort, if your Raspberry Pi is not responding, unplug the micro-USB cable and plug it back in. In general, you want to avoid doing this, because suddenly cutting power to the Raspberry Pi without properly shutting it down first can corrupt the SD card, and prevent the Raspberry Pi from working properly.



Q: My Raspberry Pi is acting strangely (it suddenly will not boot up properly, certain programs do not work, etcetera). What is wrong?
A: If your Raspberry Pi is not "dead," but seems to be behaving strangely, there is a chance that your SD card has become corrupted. This can happen if you unplug the Raspberry Pi's power cord without properly shutting it down first. See the next question.

Q: I think I corrupted my Raspberry Pi's SD card. What should I do?
A: Send an email to help@sciencebuddies.org with a detailed description of the problem you are having. Please be sure and include your order number from the Science Buddies Store. We will work with you to verify whether or not the SD card is corrupted and send out a new card if warranted.

Q: How can I connect my Raspberry Pi to the Internet?
A: There are two ways to connect your Raspberry Pi to the Internet. You can plug it directly into your internet router with an Ethernet cable, available at electronics stores or Amazon.com.

You will need to shut down your Raspberry Pi, plug in the Ethernet cable, then turn it back on in order for it to connect to the Internet.

You can also purchase a USB WiFi adapter, available at electronics stores or Amazon.com. Again, you will need to shut down your Raspberry Pi, plug in the WiFi adapter, then turn the Raspberry Pi back on. After booting up, you will need to connect to your wireless network. Do this by clicking on the Menu icon in the lower-left corner of your desktop, which launches a menu similar to the Windows Start Menu. Hover your mouse over Preferences, and then select WiFi Configuration. This will launch a window where you can select from available wireless networks and enter the password, similar to what you would do on a Windows or Macintosh® computer.

Once you have connected to the Internet, you can use a web browser to browse, just like you would on a regular computer. To launch the web browser, click on the Menu icon, then select Internet and Web Browser.

Q: I need help with a question not listed here. Who can I ask?
A: Science Buddies has a special area of our Ask an Expert forums dedicated to the Raspberry Pi Projects Kit. Please note that the forums are staffed by volunteers, and it may take a few days to get a response. If you are doing a science project, please do not wait until the day before the project is due to ask an urgent question.

Ask an Expert

The Ask an Expert Forum is intended to be a place where students can go to find answers to science questions that they have been unable to find using other resources. If you have specific questions about your science fair project or science fair, our team of volunteer scientists can help. Our Experts won't do the work for you, but they will make suggestions, offer guidance, and help you troubleshoot.

Ask an Expert

Contact Us

If you have purchased a kit for this project from Science Buddies, we are pleased to answer any question not addressed by the FAQ above.

In your email, please follow these instructions:
  1. What is your Science Buddies kit order number?
  2. Please describe how you need help as thoroughly as possible:

    Examples

    Good Question I'm trying to do Experimental Procedure step #5, "Scrape the insulation from the wire. . ." How do I know when I've scraped enough?
    Good Question I'm at Experimental Procedure step #7, "Move the magnet back and forth . . ." and the LED is not lighting up.
    Bad Question I don't understand the instructions. Help!
    Good Question I am purchasing my materials. Can I substitute a 1N34 diode for the 1N25 diode called for in the material list?
    Bad Question Can I use a different part?

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