From May 1 through May 14th, Pete Edwards and Phillip Stearns have been working on developing an open platform for endless musical and electronic invention, exploration, and discovery from the bottom up or the top down. This system is based on minimizing the differences in the input and output “languages” used in various musical electronic formats. This means finding a way to allow free communication between logic, analog and eventually digital electronics. We are working to achieve this by finding a middle ground between these mediums where signal format and amplitude can be shared freely with minimal need for translators and adaptors. Our proof of concept models have shown that unhindered communication between binary logic and variable analog systems renders wildly adventurous possibilities and a unique musical character.
The form factor ethos is one where our passion for invention and performance are given equal attention. The key to achieving this goal is designing a hardware system with maximal scalability of size, quality and hardware format. Thus allowing the experimenter to quickly and cheaply connect circuit boards with simple jumper wires. Meanwhile the traveling musician may prefer to adapt their system to be held in a rugged housing with large format control hardware. This is effectively achieved by adopting a standard layout for a set of core modules which can be built up to the appropriate scale using a series of shields and pluggable add ons.
After a series of discussion on what such a system might look like and how to establish a standard that could be as flexible as possible, allowing for the nesting of micro and macro elements, we began prototyping modules and stackable hardware interfaces.
Project documentation is still underway, with schematics for the prototypes still in development, however, we have, after only two weeks, produced a functional system that fulfills many of our goals including portability, quick system (re)configuration, open patchable interconnection architecture, and stable breadboard compatible form factor with the potential for stackable shields and interfaces.
Future plans discussed for the project include the development of VCO, VCA, and VCF modules that operate on 5 volts, releasing schematics and system specifications to the public, production of low profile breadboard compatible modules in kit and pre-fabricated form with options for either through hole or smd components.
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