You know that saying about everything looking like a nail when all you’ve got is a hammer? Well, someone got a little carried away dreaming of wires, and it seems they’ve now a module that can begin to see all kinds of objects and substances as control voltage.

We’ve seen a new collections of modules and tools. And it turns everything in the world into a modular synthesizer input and output.

We already knew the strange and wonderful Czech team of Bastl Instruments (of Standuino fame) were up to some weird science. It just got a whole lot weirder. Sure, everyone and their cat is now planning a Eurorack modular. But not everyone has one that talks to lava lamps.


They explain:

We are going to make some eurorack modules, but not ordinary ones. The exact specifications of the modules still remain a little secret. The engineering behind the modules which are coming soon into our production is influenced by the diploma project of our main researcher Václav Peloušek: Basic research in translating biological, mechanical and chemical principles into electronic musical instrument language and vice versa. This was done at Art & Science department of University of Applied Arts Vienna. Along with the prototypes of various translators across real world principles and modular synthesizer using CV to communicate, brief theoretical study was conducted. It can be downloaded as pdf brochure.


Check out the PDF. Part of the idea here is what’s been termed “physical computing,” or interfacing with real-world objects. But it’s more than that – it’s part of a musical tradition of adapting to surroundings, as the artist puts it, inspired by John Cage and Alvin Lucier and David Tudor.

Put another way: it’s about treating the world as a modular instrument.

The modules:
ASCM – Analog Sensor Calibration Module
Simple Trigger
DSCM – Digital Sensor Calibration Module
Geiger Counter to Trigger and CV
VCMD – Voltage Controlled Motor Driver
CV 2 Servo
Trigger 2 Solenoid

All straightforward enough. It’s how you interface with objects – like, um, fish – that things start to get kookier. And so, yes, there are pulse sensors.

But there’s also a Philodendron Theremin.

And a Fish Gate. (Think light sensors and an aquarium.)

And more:
Lie Sensor
Flame CV generator
Radioactivity trigger
Lava lamp random generator
Thermochemical Envelope Generator


All old ideas, in some sense, but – essentially able to produce any unexpected results, and now in convenient modular form for the first time.

By the way, if you like this sort of stuff, don’t miss our friend Leslie García and her ongoing series of Biosensor Workshops – including a stop in Berlin. (Yes, Ableton and NI and SoundCloud employees reading CDM, clear your schedule.)

Biosensor Workshop, Fab Lab Berlin

We will in the meantime eagerly await news from Bastl of these modules – and may go pay their labs a visit in the neighboring Czech Republic soon.


PS – that module in one shot is the very clever Little Dieter, an adaptation of the Doepfer DIY. In an earlier revision of this article, I accidentally called Bastl’s project that, which wouldn’t make any sense. Fixed. More coffee.