This year we went to Brussels to attend FOSDEM, like the previous years, but this edition was a bit special for us as we gave a talk  in the Embedded & Mobile devroom. Yes! The OpenPipe project was there showing people how OpenSourceHardware and Bagpipes can live together.

We had some fun because we played analog bagpipes in order to let people compare with the electronics version, above all regarding the sound power and disturbance.

At the end of the talk we felt very happy, becase several persons, not bagpipes related (as most of the FOSDEM atendees), shown interest and asked about the OpenPipe posibilities and limits.

We would like to thank to Simón Pena, for the moral and logistic support and alsto to the FOSDEM staff, especially to Philippe De Swert, for such great event. Thanks also to the people attending the talk for such great time.

Happy OpenPiping!!!

Christmas is here, so we have a bit more time to show the work we have been doing over the past weeks.

Today we anounce our MIDI-USB Shield, in order to let Arduino act as a USB MIDI device in a seamless way (for trickier solutions visit this post).

We’ve recorded two videos with this shield. The first one is an usage example with an accelerometer. The second one is with the OpenPipe Breakout. Both using iPhone as synthesizer.



More info in the OpenPipe MIDI-USB Shield page.

During the past months we’ve sent several OpenPipe Breakout prototypes all over the world (Spain, USA, Russia, France, …), and we know there are some happy OpenPipers almost ready to show us their work. In the meanwhile, we would like to announce that we’ve no more white OpenPipes Breakouts for sale. The OpenPipe Breakout Black Edition is here!!!

We’ve improved the manufacturing process, and the look&feel. Now the capacitive sensors are also black, and we ship the OpenPipes with tinned wires in order to let people addapt to their designs easily. You can connect the wires directly to Arduino as well.

We’ve also been playing a bit with Wavetable Synthesis as you can see in the previous post, in order to demonstrate the high sound quality you can achieve with the OpenPipe Breakout, Arduino and audio shields. Some people sent us several european bagpipes samples, and we added them to the code examples as well.

In our YouTube playlist you can track our progress.

The year is ending so… we wish you a merry Christmas and a good start in the new year… full of OpenPipes :)

In the previous post we talked about generating bagpipes sounds using WaveTable Synthesis with Arduino (44KHz @ 8bit) and PWM. The result is good but we can increase sound quality a bit more using an Arduino Shield for audio generation like the one from OpenMusicLabs.

The Audio Codec Shield is an Arduino shield that uses the Wolfson WM8731 codec, capable of sampling and reproducing audio up to 88kHz, 24bit stereo. The Audio Codec Shield has 1/8″ stereo input and headphone output jacks, a single pole analog input aliasing filter, and 2 potentiometers for varying parameters in your code. (

So we created sound samples now at 44KHz and 16bits, using the same Python script, but now we added some new bagpipes sounds (apart from Galician Bagpipes) thanks to Tim Malcolm from eChanter project, who managed to bring us the recorded sound samples.

If you want to include more bagpipes sounds or fingerings and you can manage to send us some sound samples please contact us at

Here is the result, despite of my null practice playing GHB and Säckpipa songs.


  1. Setup an Arduino UNO, an Audio Codec Shield and an OpenPipe Breakout.
  2. Download Arduino code from here.
  3. Select wich instrument to use at the top of the Arduino sketch.
  4. Upload…
  5. Connect to amplified speakers, set high volume and enjoy!

In this post we will explain how to generate high quality sound with Arduino using wavetable sysnthesis, with bagpipes in mind, of course!!!

The code used here is based in the eChanter, a DIY electronic bagpipes project built around Arduino. Thanks eChanter for the inspiration. We added some cool features in order to let people create custom fingering tables and sound samples.

Wavetable Synthesis in Arduino

The easiest way for sound generation in Arduino is using PCM and PWM. This means that we have the sound samples stored in the Arduino memory (PCM, Wavetable Synthesis) and we periodically loop this stored samples using PMW.

PCM streams have two basic properties that determine their fidelity to the original analog signal: the sampling rate, which is the number of times per second that samples are taken; and the bit depth, which determines the number of possible digital values that each sample can take (Wikipedia).

Due to the limitations of the Arduino PWM we can use only 8 bits bit depth, but regarding sample rate we are able to use up to 44100 Hz, as long as we don’t need to do a lot of processing in the Arduino loop().

How does it works? A periodic function called ISR interrupts the Arduino loop() every 1/44100 seconds, reads the next sample value stored in the FLASH memory, and updates the PWM register in order to generate an analog signal in the PMW pin. The PWM output is not a true anlog signal but a pulse train, so the generated sound will have some high frecuency noise.

Sound Samples

So, we need to store in the Aduino memory the sound samples for every note we wanto to play, and we have basically two ways:

  1. Storing a true sound sample loop. We need to record a good sample of every instrument note and edit this sound sample in order to make it a loop (learn more).
  2. Storing a digitally generated sound sample based on additive synthesis. We can analyze a true sound, extract the partials and then use this information for generating the loop.

Our choice is the number 2. We used a small python script that generates the loops ready for storing in the Arduino memory based on additive synthesis.

The Arduino sketch provided has sound samples for Gaita Galega (Galician Bagpipe) and Great Highland Bagpipe. If you would like to generate a different instrument, and you can’t manage to analyze the sound partials, please drop us a line (and attach the sound samples).


Not every bagpipes have the same fingerings, so we need a way to relate fingers positions and notes. We wrote a python script in order to let people create new openpipe fingerings for any instrument. We’ve currently defined Gaita Galega (Galician Bagpipe) and Great Highland Bagpipe fingerings.

Here you can see the way we define a fingering.

	(0,("-C CCC CCCC",)), # LOW G (G4)
	(2,("-C CCC CCCO",)), # LOW A (A4)
	(4,("-C CCC CCOO",)), # B (B4)
	(5,("-C CCC COOC", "-C CCC CO--")), # C (C5)
	(7,("-C CCC OOOC", "-C CCC OO--")), # D (D5)
	(9,("-C CCO CCCO", "-C CCO ----")), # E (E5)
	(10,("-C COO CCCO", "-C COO ----")), # F (F5)
	(12,("-C OOO CCCO", "-C OOO ----")), # HIGH G (G5)
	(14,("-O OOO CCCO", "-O OOO ----")), # HIGH A (A5)	

Step by Step

If you want to DIY you will need:

The connections

Connect OpenPipe Breakout to Arduino GND,  5V and I2C pins.

  • Gray wire to GND pin
  • White wire to 5V pin
  • Green wire to A4 pin
  • Yellow wire to A5 pin
 Connecto a 8 Ohm speaker to Arduino pins GND and 11.
OpenPipe Breakout connection
Speaker connection

The sketch

  1. Download the openpipe code
  2. Go to the openpipe_breakout_echanter folder
  3. Open the .ino sketch with Arduino IDE
  4. Upload it to the Arduino UNO


You must place your right thumb over the bottom electrode on the back of the pipe to play.

Can you hear the drone? Yes! We also have a drone!!!

With an RC low-pass filter and amplified speakers the sound is much better.

OpenPipe Breakout connected to Arduino

Here we are!!!

For the past few months we’ve been working on the electronic bagpipes arena with an open source/hardware perspective.

We love bagpipes and electronics and our goal is to facilitate  the hardware part for people to build electronic bagpipes with widely spread hardware platforms like Arduino and help those interested in building MIDI instruments like us to jump and shout: “Here we are!!!”.

And we’re happy to finally release the first result of our efforts, the OpenPipe Breakout Board. Want to know more? Check all the info here.

OpenPipe is an open project that hopes to be nurtured by your comments and feedback. Together we can defined the future of it. So don’t hesitate to drop us a line to let us know what you think.

Happy OpenPiping!!!