If DJing originated in the creative miuse and appropriation of hardware, perhaps the next wave will come from DIYers inventing new approaches. No need to wait, anyway – you can try building this scratch controller yourself.
DJWORX has done some great ongoing coverage of Andy Tait aka Rasteri. You can read a complete overview of Andy’s SC1000, a Raspberry Pi-based project with metal touch platter:
In turn, there’s also that project’s cousin, the 7″ Portable Scratcher aka 7PS.
If you’re wondering what portablism is, that’s DJs carrying portable record players around. But maybe more to the point, if you can invent new gear that fits in a DJ booth, you can experiment with DJing in new ways. (Think how much current technique is really circumscribed by the feature set of CDJs, turntables, and fairly identical DJ software.)
Or to look at it another way, you can really treat the DJ device as a musical instrument – one you can still carry around easily.
The SC1000 in Rasteri’s capable hands is exciting just to behold:
Everything you need to build this yourself – or to discover the basis for other ideas – is up on GitHub:
This is not a beginner project. But it’s not overwhelmingly complicated, either. Basically…
System-on-module (the brains of the operation)
Jog wheel with metal capacitive touch surface and magnet
Free software powers the actual DJing. (It’s based on xwax, open source Linux digital vinyl emulation, which we’ve seen as the basis of other DIY projects.)
You need to assemble the main PCB – there’s your soldering iron action.
And you’ll flash the firmware (which requires a PIC programmer), plus transfer the OS to SD card.
Assembly of the jog wheel and enclosure requires a little drilling and gluing
Other than that it’s a matter of testing and connection.
Full open source under a GPLv2 license. (Andy sort of left out the hardware license – this really sort of illustrates that GNU need a license that blankets both hardware and software, though that’s complex legally. There’s no copyright information on the hardware; to be fully open it needs something like a Creative Commons license on those elements of the designs. But that’s not a big deal.)
It looks really fantastic. I definitely want to try building one of these in Berlin – will team up and let you know how it goes.
This clearly isn’t for everyone. But the reason I mention going to custom hardware is, this means both that you can adapt your own technique to a particular instrument and you can modify the way the digital DJ tool responds if you so choose. It may take some time before we see that bear fruit, but it definitely holds some potential.
Rasteri’s SC1000 scratch controller — build your own today [thanks to Mark Settle over at DJWORX!]
Thanks, Dubby Labby!