MR-808 Brings Vintage Drum Machine to Life

Arduino Music
MR-808 Brings Vintage Drum Machine to Life


The Roland TR-808 is a legendary drum machine that’s been used on tracks by The Beastie Boys, Kraftwerk, and Marvin Gaye just to name a few. Its musical provenance and distinctive look inspired Moritz Simon Geist to build the MR-808, a giant mechanical doppelganger of the classic device.

Percussion instruments (snare, bass drum, hi-hat, carabassa, clave, ride, clap, toms, and cowbell) are housed inside a cabinet that’s modelled to look like the TR-808. Motors and solenoids strike the instruments, are actuated by Arduino, and sequenced through MIDI. When each instrument is played its respective cabinet lights up via a MAX/MSP patch, making the MR-808 a pleasing aural and visual display.

Geist uses the MR-808 in his band, Science Fiction Children. While this drum machine is most impressive, I can’t say I’ll be lining up to be a roadie anytime soon.

[via The Creators Project]

6 thoughts on “MR-808 Brings Vintage Drum Machine to Life

  1. MR-808 Brings Vintage Drum Machine to Life | My Daily Feeds says:

    […] Read the full article on MAKE […]

  2. scottassoc says:

    I just realized that I have a TR-808 in the basement…

    1. Polyrhythmic says:

      So sad to hear it’s just fading away in a basement. You should sell it to me!

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In addition to being an online editor for MAKE Magazine, Michael Colombo works in fabrication, electronics, sound design, music production and performance (Yes. All that.) In the past he has also been a childrens' educator and entertainer, and holds a Masters degree from NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program.

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