SJS-ONE: Open, Arduino-Based Synth, with Crazy Cases and Web Troubleshooting

SJS-ONE is an 8-bit synth that you add to an Arduino board, making it ideal for hardware and firmware tinkerers and lovers of unique monosynths. But we’ll give it bonus points for two other reasons. First, it has some really bizarre cases available as add-ons, which look a bit like punk birdhouses. (Birdhouse squats? Hot rodded bird tenant buildings?) Second, in a really clever move, they help you troubleshoot hardware issues with a Flash animation. It could make it clear even to a complete beginner how to use a multimeter (a measuring device that checks electrical connections). The Arduino design …


Bio-interfacing Meets Music: Journal, Berlin Opening, and Get Started with Open Hardware Right Now

To understand the relationship between computer and musician, you have to first understand the relationship between computer and human. For many years, that interaction has primarily involved some gesture – the click of a mouse, the swipe of a finger – and an accompanying interface abstraction. But now, from phones to desktops, computers are not only data acquisition gadgets for photos and text and various hand gestures. They’re increasingly looking inward at their human masters, connecting to the biological feedback systems our bodies themselves use. And music is a perfect window into that world. It’s a big moment for bio-interfacing …


Open Source Music Hardware: Got Gear? Fill Out Our Survey as We Look at the Landscape

If you do want to get religious about this, you may want to wear this around your neck: Open Source Hardware logo as jewelry! Photo (CC-BY-SA) MAKE’s Becky Stern. We’ve followed open source hardware – and generally hardware that is more open to user customization and modification – on this site since the beginning. As I prepare for a talk on the MeeBlip at Berlin’s Create Art & Technology Conference, though, I think it’s time to do a proper survey of the hardware that’s out there. The ability to modify music gear is something that’s important to a lot of …


New Open Grid Gear: A Hackable, Touchable, Light-up Array – BlipBox

Light-up grids of buttons are nearly commonplace, but the BlipBox is something different: its array of lights is also a sensor, making it both X/Y controller and light-up grid. And it’s designed to be completely open — firmware, hardware, schematics and documentation are all fully GPL-licensed and open source. For those of us who aren’t ninja coders, it’s also easy to customize, thanks to friendly software (pictured below) .k for making nifty interactive animations on its display and support for the artist-friendly Processing code environment. As the creators describe it, it’s three (three!) pieces of hardware in one: a creative …


New Open Grid Gear: DJ Mixer Meets monome Grid in MIDI + OSC Controller

It had to happen — button triggering, as popularized by the monome, here meets a conventional two-channel DJ mixer. But the layout I must say is quite spare and lovely, the work of the Japanese-based PICnome project. Furthermore, it’s Open Source Hardware, covered as I have recommended by a ShareAlike Creative Commons license (with no commercial restrictions) and GPL v3. (The creator prefers the term “Free Hardware,” which I love theoretically but have avoided for fear of people demanding we mail them MeeBlips by sending us a self-addressed, stamped box.) With clean, subtle markings and a nicely-composed layout, it’s hardware …


Summit Touts Open Source Hardware, Q+A with Co-Creators; Music Hardware?

Summit co-chairs Ayah Bdeir (left) and Alicia Gibb (right) are hoping to galvanize a community around open source hardware, from NASA to Arduino. And that could have an impact on music and audio – if creators of gear for musicians get onboard, that is. Open source software has proven itself in technological, economic, and cultural terms – it’s simply a matter of reality. This site runs atop free software nginx, WordPress, MySQL, and (Red Hat Enterprise) Linux; in music, we have Csound, SuperCollider, Pd, Ardour, JACK, Processing, and so on. Csound has even appeared on karaoke machines. These tools run …


Milkymist One, All-in-One Open Source VJ Workstation

Milkymist One is an all-in-one visualist workstation with a permissive open (Creative Commons) license. (The license note says, “Commercial use within the terms of the license is encouraged” — emphasis theirs.) The design is still in-progress and not available for sale, but it looks promising, with complete MIDI and DMX support, plus integrated video input and output, all onboard. Given the rapid progress of these kind of architectures, we could be looking at the future of visual performance, all in dedicated gear with computer-style flexibility. Specs: – XC6SLX45 Spartan-6 FPGA – 128MB 32-bit DDR400 SDRAM – 32MB parallel flash – …


mk: All New monome Kit Improves on Original; Q+A with Creator Brian Crabtree

It may not look like it yet, but do some simple assembly, add included buttons and your own LEDs, put this into a housing, and you’ll have the cult hit monome grid controller for your music making pleasure. Open hardware means the ability to create exactly what you want. But it doesn’t have to intimidate the newcomer – not so long as you’re up for a project and a little creativity. The monome grid controller, long a sensation with digital musicians, finally sees a major update in its kit version. The “kit” isn’t built from scratch; instead, it includes the …


Velosynth: Bicycle-Mounted Synth is Open Source, Hackable, Potentially Useful

velosynth release#001 from velosynth on Vimeo. Bicycle transport is cheap, environmentally sound, and quiet – a little too quiet. Since bikes don’t make noise, it can be difficult to hear them coming. And since a bicyclist should be focused on the road, any visual feedback to the bicyclist is potentially distracting. What’s the solution? How about a box that easily straps to a bike and makes sounds? Sounds can provide feedback to pedestrians, fellow cyclists, and other people sharing the road. They can also make distraction-free sonification of data the cyclist might want, as opposed to requiring that a rider …


x0xb0x, Open Source Hardware and TB-303 Clone, Has a Renewed Future; Q+A

Photo (CC-BY-SA) Brandon Daniel. Open source hardware may not sound like something that would produce a huge musical hit – unless you’ve met the x0xb0x. A clone of Roland’s legendary TB-303 bassline generator, the open version offered not only greater afford-ability than the now-rare antique, but expanded possibilities for hacking the hardware into a musical device you could love as your own, all with the backing of an impassioned community. The gadget was designed by Limor Fried and an unidentified “crazy German engineer” who has kept his identity private. (I wish I had my own secret crazy German engineer. Darnit. …