While we’re on the subject of making your own custom musical/visual interfaces, none other than a college friend of mine, Jesse Mejia, has a tip on a great starter board that fills the non-MIDI niche nicely:

I’m not sure if you’re working with sensors much these days, or what you may be using to interface them if you are – but I had been rather frustrated with the commercial options available. There seem to be a lot of interfaces in the $100-$200 price range that unfortunately spec down to MIDI, and a lot of extremely expensive high-end solutions that support more robust protocols. A good friend of mine who is now studying at UCSB pointed my towards a high-quality and inexpensive solution offered by a lecturer he TA’s for at the Center for Research in Electronic Art Technology.

CUI: Create USB Interface Project Page

It’s a great potential DIY project, but he also offers the device pre-built for $50. Pretty fantastic considering it’s a 10 bit USB HID with plenty of analog and digital I/O for sensors, or whatever else you might want to play with. Also it already has externals written for Max/MSP/Jitter and Supercollider. And on the DIY front, it would be even cheaper to build and it looks a good first microcontroller project for people haven’t programmed a PIC before.

Looks fantastic; thanks, Jesse!

Best of all, you can use the USB input to save you the trouble of getting data from your custom board/sensors to your computer, since your computer can recognize it as a standard game/input device. There are a lot of boards out there these days (you might consider Arduino alongside this one), but some are certainly emerging as very useful to a broad range of DIYers, musicians, and artists. This one makes my short list.

Of course, this also wins points as we love any title involving “Create Something Something.”