For the last few decades, generally speaking, we’ve had computers, and we’ve had physical, modular, analog gear. Computers are endlessly patchable, but not using physical cords. Modulars use physical cords, but they lack the flexibility (and affordability) of a computer.

Now, US$25 and an Arduino can change that.

rePatcher is a simple, tangible modular interface for computers. It could work with any software, but right out of the gate it already works with two popular (virtual) patching environments, Max/MSP and the free and open source Pure Data (Pd). You use physical patch cords to make connections, and those connections are reflected in the patch you see on the screen. The patch cords are coupled with requisite encoders for dialing in additional parameter changes. (Reason comes up as a possible candidate for additional compatibility, which would, of course, be really sweet.)

rePatcher is built as a shield for Arduino, so you’ll need one of those, but that still keeps the price low enough to say I absolutely have to have one of these right now.

It’s not the first attempt to do something like this, but it might be the most accessible and affordable – and interesting. And while those cute little patch cords are fun, there’s nothing stopping someone from building on this idea and going to bigger cords and something more extensive than this 6×6 matrix.

Best of all: the magic happens entirely over USB, so if you want to make this work with something else – say, your favorite VJ software – you can do so with anything that can communicate over serial.

More information:

  • virgildisgr4ce

    I especially love the full-circle nature of this: Max was originally designed *just* as a patcher, without synthesis of its own, to control offboard equipment.  Now we have the reverse: physical patching controlling computer synthesis.  Love it.  More info:&nbsp ;

  • peterkirn

    Yeah, absolutely! Well, where I see this being useful is as a performance interface, once you've got your (more elaborate, likely) patch set up in Max/Pd.

  • Plus you can just use PD to make a software layer putting the output of this in an easy MIDI or OSC format for any software. Neat Idea.

  • I had this idea a while back, but in the form of a Monome type device. Was going to be a 8 by 8 grid of sockets, with a transparent acrylic ring around each and an RGB led to light it up, the idea being that you could specify with colours what type of data you were connecting to what, and you could indicate stuff like beats by flashing the LEDs in tempo. Never got chance to make it as the guy I was working with the electronics on stopped replying to my emails. This project might make it easy enough for me to make now.

  • forresto

    Yes! This will go great with Meemoo (web media wiring).

  • No honorary mention of the Korg Legacy MS20 controller, which also happens to work with the iOS iMS20? Jus' sayin ;]

    Honestly, I've grown weary of Max/PD over the years… I would rather see this in a complete package. It is nice to see the modular combined with the modular though.. but can't honestly see myself fiddling with this interface.. would rather use some buttons ;]

  • wetterberg

    this is so unbelievably "me", it's incredible. Do WANT. 

    I imagine a 6*6 matrix would be fun for doing little sequencing controllers for MaxForLive. Oh yes, and I have to get one for my kids, too. A little noisemaker they can patch in front of their computer? for *25 dollars?* hells yes.

    it reminds me a bit of the sonoio device, too, which is always good.

    What I like about this is exactly that it separates us from the clicky software interfaces. This shield and arduino combo alone should be enough to have some good fun without needing your mouse.

  • oootini

    Ooh! something like this and a proper osc
    /midi implementation for aalto could be really cool…

  • I've made something like that taking advantage of the live coding possibilities of supercollider

  • barnone

    Very very interesting. Thx for writing about it.

  • Tyler

    This looks sweet! I don't really know too much about arduino… but you said "as a shield for Arduino, so you’ll need one of those," … do I need to get something else to get this little guy to operate? Or can I just buy the $25 and get to work?