The first full-size BeatBearing body has been machined in the Engineering Workshop (Many thanks to Jim Knox and David Magill). Now just need to wire it up to an Arduino.

The photo above shows a mock-up of the BeatBearing in action (currently the washers aren’t wired up, so the balls can’t trigger anything).

beatbearing software

Have started working on the BeatBearing software while waiting for the hardware to be produced. Currently I’m using Processing, as it allows quick prototypes to be made. The program will run full screen on a CRT monitor placed horizontally, allowing the perspex beatbearing block to be placed on top. This will allow the user to see the visuals underneath and around the ball bearings.

BeatBearing mkII video

This video shows the prototype Beatbearing in action. Sounds are triggered by placing the ball bearings in the recesses. Unfortunately due to handling the steel ball bearings have become slightly rusty so they make a less reliable contact as a switch. Hopefully this can be remedied with the use of stainless steel bearings.

BeatBearing mkII

The BeatBearing mkII is now functional. It now has a sturdier construction, and uses a grid of 3×3 ball-bearings. A more developed software interface has been made (shown in the screenshot at the top) that allows the user to see the result of their actions on-screen. Currently the balls are being used to control MIDI patterns in ableton live, a video of this in action will follow shortly.


Have finished a very simple prototype of the “beat-bearing” interface. Ball-bearings are used to complete a circuit by being placed in the indentations. The aim is to create a tangible sequencer that will allow a user to construct a beat by placing the ball bearings on a grid of these indentations.
Given that the 3-ball prototype is too limited for use as a sequencer, it is currently being used to mute individual tracks in Ableton Live (drop the first ball in for a kick-drum and snare, second for the hi-hat, and third ball for the bassline). Even though it is limited it’s good fun to use.
The next stage will involve building one that has eight indentations which will allow for drum sequencing… (see diagram above)