The Haxophone Is the Electronic Saxophone You've Been Waiting For

Check out the Haxophone hackable electronic saxophone with mechanical keys.

Cameron Coward
1 year agoMusic / 3D Printing

UPDATE (9/7/23):The Haxophone Crowd Supply campaign is now live and you can back the project until October 19th, 2023. The campaign has a funding goal of $15,000.

You can back the project for $200 (plus shipping) and if all goes according to plan, you'll receive your Haxophone in February of 2024. That does not include the Raspberry Pi, but you can purchase one on the campaign page for an additional $16 + shipping.

There are very few electronic saxophones on the market. Those that are available cost a lot of money and still leave a lot to be desired. The Haxophone seems to offer a lot at an affordable price. And it is an open source project, so you're free to modify it to your heart's content.

When it comes to electronic music, saxophonists have been left out of the fun. Anyone can go buy an electronic keyboard for less than $100 and it will work pretty well. But while digital saxophones do exist, they're very expensive. The best-known is Yamaha's YDS-150, but that costs about $800 and doesn't even have very good reviews. Now there is a better solution: the Haxophone hackable electronic saxophone with mechanical keys.

The Haxophone doesn't look much like a traditional saxophone, but was designed by Javier Cardona of Cardona Bits to play like one. Its key arrangement is meant to mimic that of a real saxophone, while utilizing mostly off-the-shelf components and keeping costs down. It has all the keys you would expect, with the exception of the high F# key (which many saxophones omit anyway). Haxophone includes a built-in audio amplifier, so players can plug in a pair of headphones during practice or feed the audio out to speakers for live performances. And because Haxophone is a digital instrument, players can record the MIDI output for electronic music production.

To keep Haxophone as hackable as possible, Cardona designed it as a HAT for Raspberry Pi single-board computers (SBCs). It's one large PCB with snap-off sections that attach at a 90 degree angle, relative to the main board, to create a semi-3D key arrangement. That PCB incorporates the key matrix that supports standard mechanical keyboard switches, audio amplifier, and breath sensor. The attached Raspberry Pi handles the synthesis. It runs haxo-rs, which is Cardona's custom driver written in Rust, and FluidSynth, which is open source synthesizer software.

The great thing about the Haxophone, aside from the its low cost, is its flexibility. Because it is a digital synthesizer, players aren't limited to traditional saxophone sounds. It's a MIDI device, so it can trigger any sounds the player wants.

If you want a Haxophone, you should subscribe for updates on Crowd Supply. It hasn't been released yet, so subscribing will ensure that you get a notification when it becomes available. This is an open source project and all of the current files are on GitHub, if you want to build your own Haxophone.

Cameron Coward
Writer for Hackster News. Proud husband and dog dad. Maker and serial hobbyist.
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