shaduzLabs – maschinIO from Mickael Le Goff on Vimeo.

Ever thought you’d play Space Invaders on your Maschine? You might.

It’s rough days for people who like standalone drum machine gear. Native Instruments’ Maschine is great in combination with software, but it turns into a brick when disconnected from a computer. The mighty Akai has followed suit, replacing their vaunted MPC with more accessories for your computer or iPad. This stuff is the dream of marketers: you get all-in-one hardware/software solutions. But when you want to cut the cord from your computer or go beyond the stock functionality, it’s another story.

One hack promises to turn all of that around. And it’s making progress.

The project is called maschinIO. And it’s more than a little ambitious, as you can see in this demo video at top.

Maschine wasn’t engineered to work this way. Via normal operation, its display and pads are all operated by the computer host. Without the computer connected, and without the host driver, it’s a paperweight.

But that same host communication opened up a window to hacking, and developer Vincenzo Pacella decided to do just that. By listening in on the chatter between hardware and software, he could work out how to essentially speak Maschine language to the drum pad controller. Then, making Maschine operate on its own is a matter of writing a graphics library and using an Arduino to substitute for the USB host. (Yeah, easy. Okay… you might need to be a bit obsessive to embark on such a project, but it’s possible.)

Of course, you’ll want to test the results. And that’s how Space Invaders wound up running on the Maschine hardware, powered by Arduino as USB host but with a Mac or Windows desktop nowhere in sight.

With that proof of concept in mind, a lot became possible – and so maschinIO was born. The dream:

  • Mac, Windows, Linux, Arduino platform support
  • Standalone operation
  • CV/gate for connecting to analog gear
  • Completely new application logic (which you can write yourself)
  • Full control over the display

With that, you can make a standalone hardware sequencer based on the Maschine hardware interface. So, for instance, that includes using Arduino for simple host mode support for sequencer operation, and outboard gear for sounds – CV and modular being one option. Another use case would be continuing to use a computer for sound, but transforming the way Maschine works as a controller (in its display and software operation). Once the custom protocol and operation are open, the limits are really what you might do with it.

The original story (with lots of background):
Hacking Maschine – how it all started

spaceinvaders

euklid_1

euklid_2

That was September. Flash forward to now-ish. Space Invaders may have been a fun demonstration of the display, but it’s not terribly useful musically. Now, you get an ever-popular Euclidean music sequencer, running on Maschine’s hardware and display:

Vincenzo is making good progress, even if “it’s taking waaaaay longer than I expected.” (It’s always the way with these things. Keep the faith, Mickael!)

Compatibility is looking good, too: Linux on top of Mac and Windows communication, plus MK1 (the monochromatic early models) as well as MK2 hardware support.

Those of you who are interested in doing this sort of hack, lots of interesting tidbits in his updated story from Friday:

What happened to maschinIO?

For everyone else, I think you’ll agree this is a tantalizing display of what Maschine might be. And we’ll be waiting with eager anticipation to see when we’ll get our hands on this ourselves. Having Maschine take on a second life away from the computer sounds fine indeed.

shaduzlabs.com

Bonus: more tantalizing graphics tests:

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  • Arduino is a pretty crappy option. Very little computing power and no DSP chip. πŸ™

    • It’s being used here as a sequencer. Not sure the objection? And elsewhere it’s communicating with Linux, too.

    • Dave Whiting

      The processor in a 90’s MPC had far less power than a Arduino. I don’t think anyone claimed to make a standalone Maschine, but with the given hardware you could make a impressive sequencer, nevertheless.

  • Arduino is a pretty crappy option. Very little computing power and no DSP chip. πŸ™

    • It’s being used here as a sequencer. Not sure the objection? And elsewhere it’s communicating with Linux, too.

    • Dave Whiting

      The processor in a 90’s MPC had far less power than a Arduino. I don’t think anyone claimed to make a standalone Maschine, but with the given hardware you could make a impressive sequencer, nevertheless.

  • While the Arduino part is interesting, the good news is someone is reverse-engineering NI’s closed protocol. Once in a while I think about getting rid of my Maschine, since the functionality overlaps quite a bit with Live. This might make me stick with it.

    • “Closed” isn’t perhaps the right word as it’s using HID – unpublished is perhaps better. πŸ˜‰

    • Vitor Jesus

      Right. I would love to know how the protocol works. I don’t like that NI does not disclose their protocols for Maschine and Traktor controllers. It’s their way of working, they produce the software and hardware and try to tie them together.
      Maschine will be much more useful with the protocol published. It already is a very good controller, even in MIDI mode, but with custom “firmware”, who knows what brilliant minds can design? Zaquencer is a nice example of what can be made.
      Never mind that I can totally bypass the computer.
      I wonder if NI can/will do anything to prevent this work from going any further.

  • While the Arduino part is interesting, the good news is someone is reverse-engineering NI’s closed protocol. Once in a while I think about getting rid of my Maschine, since the functionality overlaps quite a bit with Live. This might make me stick with it.

    • “Closed” isn’t perhaps the right word as it’s using HID – unpublished is perhaps better. πŸ˜‰

    • Vitor Jesus

      Right. I would love to know how the protocol works. I don’t like that NI does not disclose their protocols for Maschine and Traktor controllers. It’s their way of working, they produce the software and hardware and try to tie them together.
      Maschine will be much more useful with the protocol published. It already is a very good controller, even in MIDI mode, but with custom “firmware”, who knows what brilliant minds can design? Zaquencer is a nice example of what can be made.
      Never mind that I can totally bypass the computer.
      I wonder if NI can/will do anything to prevent this work from going any further.

  • Foosnark

    Turning a Maschine into a standalone step sequencer is a bit like taking the engine out of a Lotus Elise and converting it into a lawnmower, isn’t it?

    I mean, it’s kind of a neat hacking project, but replacing a computer with dozens of gigs of samples and hundreds of VST plugins and a good audio interface and a fairly capable sequencer with… an Arduino… sigh.

    • No one’s doing that.

      Okay, really, no one is paying attention here at all? πŸ™‚

      – The example above is a sequencer. The chip in Arduino is perfectly capable of running a sequencer to outboard gear.

      – Standalone operation replaces the functionality of Maschine *as a paperweight* the moment you unplug a computer.

      – Both his video and my article explicitly mention OS X, Windows, and Linux operation, and the ability to replace the firmware to do whatever you like. So that means continuing to use your computer.

  • Foosnark

    Turning a Maschine into a standalone step sequencer is a bit like taking the engine out of a Lotus Elise and converting it into a lawnmower, isn’t it?

    I mean, it’s kind of a neat hacking project, but replacing a computer with dozens of gigs of samples and hundreds of VST plugins and a good audio interface and a fairly capable sequencer with… an Arduino… sigh.

    • No one’s doing that.

      Okay, really, no one is paying attention here at all? πŸ™‚

      – The example above is a sequencer. The chip in Arduino is perfectly capable of running a sequencer to outboard gear.

      – Standalone operation replaces the functionality of Maschine *as a paperweight* the moment you unplug a computer.

      – Both his video and my article explicitly mention OS X, Windows, and Linux operation, and the ability to replace the firmware to do whatever you like. So that means continuing to use your computer.

  • coolout

    I have a full MK2 and Mikro MK1. The sequencer running on the Mikro interests me since playing Euclidean is one of the few limitations of Maschine, plus my Mikro collecting dust in the corner.

    Speaking of Maschine interfaces, have you guys checked out the DrumMaschine template? It’s a good attempt at making Maschine feel more like an simpler analog drum machine and easier for live performance. It puts a single drum synth on each group so you can switch between tweaking sounds and step sequencer lanes quickly. It’s one of those “why didn’t I think of that” type things. Probably worthy of it’s own post on CDM.

    Check it out: http://www.padbangers.com/tutorials/free-download-drummaschine-for-ni-maschine-2.html

    • fierywater

      Have you tried it with your Mikro? Just wondering how it works with the reduced set of controls, as I have a Mikro MK2.

  • coolout

    I have a full MK2 and Mikro MK1. The sequencer running on the Mikro interests me since playing Euclidean is one of the few limitations of Maschine, plus my Mikro is collecting dust in the corner.

    Speaking of Maschine interfaces, have you guys checked out the DrumMaschine template? It’s a good attempt at making Maschine feel more like an simpler analog drum machine and easier for live performance. It puts a single drum synth on each group so you can switch between tweaking sounds and step sequencer lanes quickly. It’s one of those “why didn’t I think of that” type things. Probably worthy of it’s own post on CDM.

    Check it out: http://www.padbangers.com/tutorials/free-download-drummaschine-for-ni-maschine-2.html

    • fierywater

      Have you tried it with your Mikro? Just wondering how it works with the reduced set of controls, as I have a Mikro MK2.

  • lala

    Polyrhythms without a few bassnotes always seem to go nowhere, they just repeat in a very long cycle. If you have a few bass notes in it it makes much more sense to me.

  • lala

    Polyrhythms without a few bassnotes always seem to go nowhere, they just repeat in a very long cycle. If you have a few bass notes in it it makes much more sense to me.

  • Fayek Helmi

    Can we convert the push to a standalone sequencer plz πŸ™‚

  • Fayek Helmi

    Can we convert the push to a standalone sequencer plz πŸ™‚

  • DBM

    That’s pretty cool . I imagine something like that could be done with a rasberry pi 2 as well . Hell I seen there is a version of b-step for pi …hmmm .

  • DBM

    That’s pretty cool . I imagine something like that could be done with a rasberry pi 2 as well . Hell I seen there is a version of b-step for pi …hmmm .

  • gunboat_d

    that’s awesome. if you could get it to even half the ability of the BeatStep Pro, it would be a huge game changer. the reason I just bought a used MPC1000 over the Studio or the Maschine is because I hate the idea of being a slave to software and online registration agreements *just* for the sake of having 80GB of content at my fingertips and light-up pads. (I’ll never forgive NI for killing activation for older products that I have the disk for (pours our hotel mini bar serving of Crown Royale on my copy of B4))

  • gunboat_d

    that’s awesome. if you could get it to even half the ability of the BeatStep Pro, it would be a huge game changer. the reason I just bought a used MPC1000 over the Studio or the Maschine is because I hate the idea of being a slave to software and online registration agreements *just* for the sake of having 80GB of content at my fingertips and light-up pads. (I’ll never forgive NI for killing activation for older products that I have the disk for (pours our hotel mini bar serving of Crown Royale on my copy of B4))

  • KE4

    This is good news. Would be great to get a more generic Arduino firmware that can act as USB host for *any* USB controller.

  • KE4

    This is good news. Would be great to get a more generic Arduino firmware that can act as USB host for *any* USB controller.

  • When we’ll have that sweet launchpad pro with open firmware, time will be better spent on that…I think.

  • When we’ll have that sweet launchpad pro with open firmware, time will be better spent on that…I think.

  • Will

    This is bitchin. Way to go Vincenzo.

  • Will

    This is bitchin. Way to go Vincenzo.

  • LA

    this is awesome. like an aleph with pads?

  • LA

    this is awesome. like an aleph with pads?

  • heinrichz

    Would that also work with M Studio? It really would put those Amoled displays to new additional work!

    • shaduzlabs

      Maschine Studio is a different beast, it’s easy to access the buttons/pad/encoders data and control all the LEDs, but it’s impossible to control the displays without knowing details about the frame compression/encryption algorithms

  • heinrichz

    Would that also work with M Studio? It really would put those Amoled displays to new additional work!

    • shaduzlabs

      Maschine Studio is a different beast, it’s easy to access the buttons/pad/encoders data and control all the LEDs, but it’s impossible to control the displays without knowing details about the frame compression/encryption algorithms

  • Marc

    I would. Because I dont use Maschine, it’s collecting dust and it’s difficult to sell.

    • fierywater

      For what it’s worth, Native Instruments is pretty quick about unregistering software for resale if you shoot them an email. No reason to keep something you don’t use.

  • Marc

    I would. Because I dont use Maschine, it’s collecting dust and it’s difficult to sell.

    • fierywater

      For what it’s worth, Native Instruments is pretty quick about unregistering software for resale if you shoot them an email. No reason to keep something you don’t use.

  • squorax

    OH GOD IT LOOKS LIKE HOMEBREW TEENAGE ENGINEERING OP-1
    AWESOME

  • squorax

    OH GOD IT LOOKS LIKE HOMEBREW TEENAGE ENGINEERING OP-1
    AWESOME

  • Mutis Mayfield

    Why not do it with raspi 2?

    • Dave Whiting

      Although it is capable of being used, RaspberryPi isn’t very good at being a micro-controller. It is more a tiny standalone computer than anything as it has plenty of hardware that would be superfluous to this task.

      • Mutis Mayfield

        Well more than midi (which make it standalone is simpler than arduino) I was wondering something like old mpc.

  • Mutis Mayfield

    Why not do it with raspi 2?

    • Dave Whiting

      Although it is capable of being used, RaspberryPi isn’t very good at being a micro-controller. It is more a tiny standalone computer than anything as it has plenty of hardware that would be superfluous to this task.

      • Mutis Mayfield

        Well more than midi (which make it standalone is simpler than arduino) I was wondering something like old mpc.

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