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A two-player instrument and game.

Project Description

Tank Notes was a two day project developed during the Motors and Music course in CIID. It’s a two-person instrument and synthesizer composed of a screen-based game and an evocative physical interface with haptic feedback. The game is inspired by the classical Tank Wars game from the 90’s.

Team:  Alejandra Molina, Andreas RefsgaardHåvard Lundberg 

Context: Motors and Music course at Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design

Project advisors: Bill Verplank, Jakob Bak and David Gauthier

Project Details

Date  April 2015
Skills Physical Computing, Coding, Game Design, Product Design.


Two players can synthesize their own music by hitting each others cannonballs, which in turn adds a note to the synthesizer. The pitch of the note depends on the height of the impact, while the length of the note depends on the velocity of the two notes on impact. The colour of the cannonballs change based on the pitch of the note. Using the physical interface, players can set the angle by tilting the tank’s gun and the cannonball’s velocity by using a motorized slider. The slider incorporates haptic feedback to the user.

How it works

The physical interfaces (tanks) are controlled with a Teensy and the custom Motors & Music PCB which sends data to a Processing sketch which runs the custom game we created. When two cannonballs (or notes) collides, Processing sends the note pitch and length to Ableton which adds it to a looping synthesizer. Ableton plays the music and relays the notes back to Processing through a MAX/MSP patch. The Processing sketch visualises the playback of the notes as individual stars.


During this course we gained deeper insights into the use of haptics to enhance various interactions. We also got to work more with DC motors, Arduino, Processing, Ableton and MAX/MSP.