Building a cheap laser harp for percussionists
2022-07-24, 13:00–13:50, Clairvoyance 🔮

A laser harp is a magic musical instrument that makes sounds from light beams.
Ever since Jean-Michel Jarre used a laser harp in his live concerts to play Rendez Vous 2, many people have dreamt to play one. But they are ridiculously expensive!
Klaas van Gend will discuss his ongoing journey with Pascal Ahout to design a cheap and simple laser harp suitable for a local percussionist group. A revolutionary simple laser harp, using only an Arduino board, and no moving parts.
Hopefully, at the time this talk happens, the design is ready to be demoed, so we’ll end with a live demo or a video recording showcasing our working laser harp.

The director from St. Caecilia percussionists group Lieshout-Mariahout in Brabant always wants to go beyond just playing music. He loves to bring in nonstandard instruments, video or lighting tricks.
For an upcoming show, he wants to compose a new piece with a laser harp.
As usual, he came to his audio and lighting engineer Pascal Ahout, who asked software engineer Klaas van Gend to join in.
Together, they started designing a reliable laser harp from scratch, reviewing various sources on the internet and revisiting all design decisions. Their laser harp design looks remarkably different – no moving parts, no complex optics and cheap!
This talk will show the design process, implementation details and hopefully the results.
Indeed: the development is not done yet. So we may end the talk explaining why our ideas weren’t smart enough… We’ll have to see!
But we intend to end with a working demo.

Mechanical engineer by education, software engineer and architect by continuous development-on-the-job, Klaas van Gend found a new challenge in designing a laser harp.
After graduating in 1998 at the Eindhoven University of Technology, he worked as control engineer and software engineer at various companies. After 2000 he specialized in embedded Linux and traveled the world talking about real time, memory constraints, performance issues, multi core and software bugs.
In 2016 he returned to Sioux Technologies as a software architect, running two teams to develop complex mechatronics software for customers in the Eindhoven area.
Klaas lives in Best with his four guinea pigs Bram, Tom, Freek and Fiepie.
He’s also very frequently at his girlfriend Andrea, where he met Pascal.