The story goes that I was living in Brooklyn with a very talented tie maker. Our rooms were separated by a very small hall and while I was doing sound work in my room, I would hear him toiling away with his huge industrial sewing machines. The sound of these big universal motors droning started to really influence the way I heard the pieces I was working on and I started experimenting with motors. The result is this monophonic inductor synth that does't just play MIDI notes but continues to function as a sewing machine.
I used a Teensy 2.0 which was appealing because of the USB MIDI functionality that is built in. (This was before I discovered the wonderful and amazing Arcore by Ralph Kistner which has since become a staple in many of my projects. Thank you Ralph!)
My original version was with a small NEMA 24 motor that really couldn't generate the force I needed to get the sewing machine working although it should be mentioned that it sounded beautiful. I upgraded to a NEMA 34 stepper powered by a generic 24v power supply with an ST-M504 Microstep Driver and I had more than enough power. I used a 5 string electric bass pickup as a transducer since I knew I was interested in lower frequencies and I could get the kind of audio compression and EQ I wanted from a bass amp.
The code I used was a very slightly modified version of Randolph Voorhies' midimotor code available here.
In My Wife Carlos plays it with a capacitive touch Toe Piano to keep his hands free for sewing.