On this page, I’ll show you how to build an electronic Ergordica.
Please note this build guide is a work in progress and that it requires skill to complete. By accessing this build guide you agree not to hold me accountable for anything that might go wrong as per the terms and conditions of this site. If you have any suggestions, please let me know in the page comments.
Below is a list of parts needed to assemble an electronic Ergordica. Please note I’ve listed some alternate sources in case some parts are unavailable. I haven’t tested all these exact parts personally yet, so can’t guarantee perfect fits in all instances. For those without access to a 3D printer, you can send the CAD files to 3D Hubs or similar to get them made. Some of the links below are affiliate links and proceeds go to further Ergordica development at no extra cost to you.
A functional Ergordica can be built with the parts in the previous section. It will be essentially a MIDI instrument you can plug into a synth or computer via USB (or 5-pin MIDI if you put in a connector). Now if you want to build your Ergordica into a standalone electronic wind instrument, some accessory projects will be in upcoming posts, and I’ll list them here.
Below is a list of tools for the build.
- Cordless Drill
- Phillips Bits Various Sizes
- Phillips Screw Driver
- Wire Cutting and Stripping Tool
- Needle Nose Pliers
- Crimping Tool (comes with kit shown in parts section)
- Wire wrapping tool or soldering iron
- Hot Gun or Hair Drier (optional for shrinking shrink tubing)
- Safety Glasses
Step 1: Acquire 3D Printed Parts
Whether you are printing the parts yourself or ordering them from 3D Hubs or similar, the FDM process with PLA material works fine and is the cheapest option. You can probably get by with 300 μm layer height, though I haven’t tested this myself. The two parts that need printing are:
FDM Printing the parts requires some kind of support material. The trick though is that the blow tube has to be clear of any support material. This isn’t a problem if dissolvable support material is used. But if the support material is the print material, then a modifier has to be used to ensure no support is built inside the blow tube. This can be done via the support region modifiers. For support material, I like to set interface layers to 0. The printer I use is a Prusa MK3S which is excellent for the price.
Step 2: Attach Arduino and Sensor Shield to Button Pan
In case you are unfamiliar with Arduinos, they are basically a microcontroller (small computer) that can be easily programmed (code is provided in parts section) and with handy access to the inputs and outputs. The sensor shield plugs into the Arduino to better arrange the inputs/outputs for hooking up sensors and, handily, also switches, which we will be using a lot of.
Once you have the sensor shield plugged into the Arduino, attach both to the button pan via the #6-32 x 1″ screws and locking nuts. Note you might have to drill out the the holes in the button pan a bit.
Step 3: Prepare All Button Assemblies
To keep the cost down, I went with basic push buttons (normally closed) available on Amazon. I prefer normally closed because the switch toggles with the slightest touch rather than full depression. I also like that these switches come with quick connect terminals, so no soldering.
This is the most time consuming step. I suggest doing a couple button assemblies from start to finish to get the hang of it then switch to an assembly line approach. Some good music or audio book plus Gummy Bears for reward will make it an enjoyable experience 🙂
Step 4: Attach Button Assemblies
It’s time to install all of the switches. First connect them all to the button pan as shown in the images below. Some of them are fairly tight together so you might want to use needle nose pliers to tighten the nut. Next, plug the Dupont connectors into the correct pins on the Arduino sensor shield also shown in the images below.
Step 5: Prepare and Attach Pressure Sensor
In this step you need to connect wires to pins of the pressure sensor. I did this via a perf board and a bit of solder. I think an easier way would be with a wire wrapping tool.
Step 6: Prepare and Attach MIDI to USB Cable
The MIDI to USB cable allows you to plug your electronic Ergordica directly into a computer or synth via a USB port. But if your computer or synth already has a way of accepting 5-pin MIDI, then you might want to save a few bucks and some effort and put in a 5-pin MIDI connector instead.
If going with the MIDI cable I spec’d, then you can do the following steps to hook it up (note that you could take a different approach if you want to preserve the cable):
Step 7: Attach Bottom Cover
Attach the bottom cover either using the #4 x 1/2″ screws or the screws holding the Mugig Melodica together. You will have to compress all of the wires a fair bit. It helps to collapse them all in the same direction, preferably in the direction away from the mouthpiece.
Step 8: Connect 9V
Power the Arduino using a 9V battery and the spec’d 9V battery connector. I’m eventually going to design a back cover to contain the battery and wires, but for now you will have to be creative. I’ll also discuss longer lasting power solutions at a later point.
Step 9: Program Board
In this step, you’ll program your Arduino board. If you’ve never used an Arduino before, you might have a look at the getting started guide. The basic steps are as follows:
Step 10: Attach Mouthpiece or Hose
Plug in the mouthpiece or hose. Note that I designed the electronic Ergordica to use the same mouthpiece and hose that work for the acoustic Ergordica, which come from a Mugig Melodica. If you don’t want to buy the entire Mugig Melodica, you could just get the standalone 13.5mm diameter mouthpiece and hose I linked to, but they might be a tad small and require some tape to get a snug fit.
Step 11: Plug your Ergordica into a Computer or Synth
Use the USB side of your USB to MIDI cable to plug into a computer or synth. If you’re looking for a simple and free program to test with, you could use Virtual Piano MIDI Keyboard.
As I mentioned earlier on, I’ll be adding guides for accessories like how to hook up a speaker and use a smartphone as a synth so you can have a totally standalone electronic Ergordica rather than just MIDI instrument as you created in this build.
So, what did you think? I know it’s a kind of challenging build. If you have any suggestions on how to improve it or any related thoughts at all, please tell in the comments below.