Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Monome-Inspired Modular Open Source Controllers

As if I haven’t posted enough related to the Monome recently, here is another entry inspired by this awesome little device. My recent fascination with the Monome has led me to wonder why are there no other controllers that share the same open source mindset to creating music coupled with a social and environmental conscious and minimalist esthetic. So here is an idea to fill this void:

Concept: Create modular open source control devices inspired by the Monome. These open source control modules would provide artists with new surfaces and possibilities to interface with their projects. All of the modules would feature minimalistic design, inspired by the Monome, and they would be produced in a socially and environmentally conscious manner.

Mechanics: All modules would work together and share consistent architecture. This architecture would encompass the communication protocol (which would likely be OSC), the chip and firmware selection, and the physical design esthetic and feel. As mentioned above, the hardware and software design would be open-source so that users can contribute new software and hardware hacks and improvements.

At the moment, I envision creating a line featuring several modules for this series: a rotary pot module would featuring 36 (6x6); a sliding pot module would feature 8 (8x1) pots; a force sensitive button module would feature 25 (5x5) buttons; a touchscreen module would feature a 10x10 inch touch surface.

One of my favorite elements of the Monome is that it can be used as a monochrome low-resolution display. Therefore, each module would feature similar display capabilities. In order to achieve this feat we would have to design our own rotary and sliding pots, force sensitive buttons, and touch displays.

Here is an example of an illuminated sliding pot from curious inventor. Unfortunately, these sliders are prohibitively expensive as they cost several hundreds of dollars each. A similar pot could be constructed using a softPot membrane potentiometer coupled with an LED lighting solution that I have not yet found.

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