What are those alien, otherworldly sounds coming out of the iPad? That’s not GarageBand. It’s what happens when Reed Ghazala, the father of circuit bending some decades ago, meets the iPad. Not that it’s his first encounter with products from Apple – he’s been approaching that company’s hardware as he does everything else, prying unexpected life with modifications and experimentation.

But just as “circuit bending” need not be seen as “breaking,” here, too, Ghazala’s modifications make the device more humane, more musical, and – for all the shouting about how the design is perfect – far, far more usable. A breakout and controls mean that you can finally extract sound and video from the iPad in usable form, without the usual, fragile, impractical connections. Reed sends the details to CDM; I can’t wait to see readers build some of these. (I may wind up building two – one for my Apple tab, and one for other hardware experimentation with whatever Honeycomb Android tablet I pick up, which at this point is probably going to be a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. It’ll be doubly important, as apparently Samsung in their infinite wisdom juggle the usual pinouts on their 30-pin connector.)

Whether your sounds tend in this vein or somewhere else altogether, Reed’s DIY instructions look to beat promised commercial offerings from the likes of Akai. (The Akai dock, for the record, hasn’t shipped yet, so it’s no contest for the time being.) As Reed describes it:

I’ve been sneaking around Apple’s garden for a long time, dating back to the Apple II motherboard hacked into my code-munching poly-synth of the early ’80’s. I’ve modded iMacs, towers, endless accessories, and I’ve drastically bent mac-centric code with wonderful result. This movie loosens another brick in Apple’s wall, and opens the iPad’s usability tremendously.

I know I’m not the only individual appreciating the experimental music apps available on the iPad. I’m anxious to support the developers’ fine work. But for musicians, the iPad’s interface can be frustrating. Do you really want to use dongles, mini-jacks and flimsy wire to get in and out of the thing?

This audio breakout solves these problems, is easy to do, and is inexpensive.

No bending here, just a quick, theory-true hack based upon iPad docking charts I found online. Not a superdock. No competition for the Alesis breakout. But if you want a slick, basic and functional DIY audio desk, on the cheap, check this hack out!

The breakout board is available at kineteka.com

Be sure to see the photos and REVISIONS, and pick-up the printable schematic at my iPad Audio Desk flickr gallery:


This audio desk is really fun to use. Hacking the apple is always a good thing. I hope you’ll enjoy the movie! (Let it download for full-screen 1080).

Instructions in the final slide of that Flickr deck:
iPad Audio Desk Schematic

If someone would like to be commissioned to write a step-by-step tutorial with CDM, get in touch and I can help.