Electronic practice hurdy gurdy with MIDI output to phone or laptop.

A hurdy gurdy is an ancient instrument like a violin with keys acting on the strings, bowed by a rotating wheel turned by a handle. It has drone strings too and uniquely also has a buzzing "rhythm" section .

As with bagpipes, something quieter to practice with can be quite a useful thing to have!

John Dingley. Updated 08/03/20 Feedback/comments: DigiGurdy@gmail.com

Full development process documented here with latest updates and project files (everything is open source): Hackaday Project here: Click Here

Scroll down this page for some photos of the V1 and V2. Full build files and instructions for original Version1 are on Thingiverse: Click Here


First 6 for early adopters ready to go. Laser cut front/rear panels. Crank simulator system by popular request. Since these were made, have designed a new stronger crank simulator system. The DG outputs MIDI data (an industry standard communication system between electronic musical instruments) via the USB lead which is plugged into an Android phone. An oldish/cheap/refurbed phone will work just fine. On the phone the free app "FluidSynth" is used which will take the incoming data and use it to play sounds from a Soundfont file within the phone. This file is emailed to you and you save it to your phone.

Nigel Eaton playing one of these versions.

Video showing general setup and use. Will update this soon.

Next step is to extend the alloy extrusions along full length of machine to make it easier to assemble. Looks neater as well.

You can see how this version is taking shape.

Also working on a printed circuit board which will increase component cost but will hugely shorten the assembly time as most of the spaghetti wiring loom can be replaced by this structure.

VERSION 1 February 2019

The keys move and operate micro-switches. The device outputs MIDI data via the USB cable to a laptop or a phone running software for a MIDI keyboard. This allows you to practice playing the melody part of songs for your hurdy gurdy. There are no batteries as it is powered via the USB cable. There is no crank handle so the fold up handle is held in the right hand which stabilizes the device while you are playing it. It has been designed to be as portable as possible. The backs of the keys are visible as they move, just as in a real hurdy gurdy.

Since making this video I have imported the sound fonts of the MIDI-gurdy into my PC MIDI player and now it does actually sound more like a hurdy gurdy with the key clicks and everything.

VERSION 2 development. Summer 2019

OLED screen is better protected in this version but angled upwards so you can still see it when playing.

Handle will have a 3.5mm jack plug so, potentially it can be completely removed and replaced with a crank simulator or handle of a different design in the future, without affecting the main body design at all.

Handle extended out and retracted