There are times when something happens that reminds you why you make the sacrifices to do what you do. A real highlight of 2011 for me was Gwydion ap Dafydd appearing with the MeeBlip, our open source synthesizer, baked into a cookbook.

I knew Gwydion had gotten creative in making a housing for his MeeBlip kit, and I knew that it was a book. But then, he opened it up to reveal the MeeBlip’s controls popping out of a cookbook page, with I/O ports conveniently located on the side, and even the ability to remove the panel to get at the board. And then… the pig’s eye lit red to indicate MIDI messages and power, and I was floored.

Synth in a Book [Konkreet Labs, also here in Berlin]

I can share some good news from the MeeBlip project: we’re now shipping a US$39.95 MeeBlip micro kit, an ultra-compact variation of the MeeBlip. It’s in stock in Canada, in transit within 48 hours. I’m especially excited, because the MeeBlip micro is designed to allow MeeBlip users to surprise us. With pins for analog and digital input, you could connect any arbitrary number of controls in any layout. You could have one giant filter knob if you wanted, or turn it into a wearable project in a purse. Or you could just make a nice, little housing and control it via MIDI. (We now provide full MIDI control of all of the controls.) And we’re excited that it’s forty bucks, because it makes a kit highly accessible to hobbyists. A fully-assembled version will be available soon.

Meet the MeeBlip micro: Small, Hackable Project Synth, Shipping Now, $39.95

We can’t wait to see what you do with it. We think the simplicity of the MeeBlip’s design, its low cost, and its straightforward MIDI operation could mean people will turn the micro into things we can’t yet imagine. (At least, that’s why we designed it that way!)

In 2012, we’ll again be offering MeeBlips in quantity that come with cases, and affordable MeeBlips (and now MeeBlip micros) that you can get pre-assembled, so the need to solder something together won’t keep your synth on a shelf. Now, with MIDI input in place, we’re ready to get back to MeeBlipping and playability. James Grahame has worked feverishly on the engineering of the current MeeBlip generation, and I look forward to us getting to share the work he did, and how he did it. He’s also been working on how to make the thing easier to manufacture and ship, so we’re ready to share that, too!

It’s also been fascinating to watch people use MIDI – and even iPads – to control the MeeBlip.

Gwydion’s MeeBlipBook (MeeBook?) made another surprise appearance (it sure as heck surprised me) in a teaser video for Lemur on the iPad. In case you missed it:

I had been playing the MeeBlip, when my keyboard or laptop weren’t handy, with the excellent Little MIDI Machine for iPad. I’m looking forward to playing with some other non-computer MIDI solutions, too, not just the iPad.

I’ve seen at least one Lemur template in the works, too; will link to those – and perhaps Pd patches and such – when they’re ready.

In the meantime, the fact that the MeeBlip is out in the world doing things and making sounds, and that we’re at last shipping them again, means I actually have a reason to be festive this holiday season. And, MeeBlip, what are you doing, New Year’s, New Year’s Eve?