Mixtape Alpha: An 8-bit Stylophone Synth in a Cassette Tape, $42

Electronic instruments really are becoming like folk instruments. US$42 now buys you a small board that you can touch directly, one that’s immediate and from which anyone can coax sounds. You can jam with it, pocket it; it’s affordable and direct and playable. And it all fits in a plastic cassette tape box. The re-released Mixtape Alpha (the first run sold out) looks like a real gem. It’s a crowd-funded run this time – eschewing Kickstarter for the Portland-based Crowd Supply. An ATmega328p-powered 8-bit synth (that is, using the chip that’s also in the Arduino, among others), Mixtape Alpha has …

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Cathode Rock: Kyle Evans Makes a TV Into an Oscilloscopic Axe of an Instrument

Pick up that TV and rock it, baby. While recalling a now-obsolete technology and the work of artists like Nam June Paik, de/Rastra is something of a (delightful) lie. In the form of a television, it appears to be a self-contained, vintage instrument. In reality, it’s a simulation, a CRT with “altered anatomy” that uses a computer to drive faux vintage cathode ray visualizations and to produce digital sound. But the synthesis of visuals with the body of a television is wonderful, a play on past and present technology that produces an impossible electronic now. The new soul of this …

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MeeBlip SE: Making Our Open Synth Hardware Better, More Available, Starting Now

The original vision of the MeeBlip was to make something affordable, something open and hackable, something anyone could get, something that could tell a story, and something we’d use to make some music. And since those are all goals of Create Digital Music, too, it’s a perfect physical compliment to what we do. For me, personally, it means putting my money where my (blogging) mouth is. It’s a chance to learn. So that makes this a really special week. It hasn’t been easy getting here, but now the MeeBlip begins its second chapter. This week, we’re announcing availability of the …

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Here Comes the Multitouch: Galaxy Tab Uses New, Responsive Atmel Tech

Speaking of Android and mobile, when it comes to reliable multi-touch on inexpensive devices, iOS has really been the only game in town. As I’ve noted previously, competing requires a usable multi-touch chipset. It seems one such chipset is making its way to a shipping product. Matt Gallant points us to our friends at Engadget: Atmel confirms the Samsung Galaxy Tab uses its maXTouch touchscreen controller Atmel, for their part, claim their technology is more responsive than competitors like Apple, offering both support for stylus input and faster response times – the latter interesting for music applications. Given how complex …

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GorF, the DIY Step Sequencer: Video Demo

Forget NAMM — one of a handful of hardware I’m most excited about in 2009 is all DIY, the 8-step GorF step sequencer. (I’m hoping for follow-ups like a Forg or Grof. Kermit (Muppet) fans know what I’m talking about.) With four sequences with parameters, steps with pitch, gate, and Control Change, sequencing controls, legato mode, and the planned ability to both send and receive clock, this is one useful-looking device. And from the video above, it looks like it’s progressing really nicely. In fact, if you think about it, it’s kind of puzzling that there isn’t a simple, cheap, …

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DIY Step Sequencer, Coming Soon as a Kit?

Here’s something I’d very much like to see: a hackable, kit step sequencer. nostromo tips us off to a blog item on his site on the project. The creation of Monowave maker Paul Maddox, the 8-step sequencer is based on an Atmel Mega16 micro chip. The whole thing is looking very compact, which could make a nice little unit or might integrate well with other projects (like a synth). The other good news to me: new DIY hardware could be a great way to run clock into software. Previously, that job has fallen to somewhat dull consumer drum machines. With …

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