This project started with my interest in instrument design. I have always loved electronic music, but I have also continually felt the need for more physicality in the performance experience. So many years ago, I just started designing instruments that would allow me to do that. This project features two identical versions of my most recent design – Rook (so named for its shapely resemblance of the chess piece).
The Inner Workings
These instruments feature three sections, which allow for a range of different physical interactions in addition to providing greater sonic potential. Two infrared sensors read the height of any object above them. A capacitive touch board features two touch strips, each of which counts the number of fingers being used and senses finger placement. And the last section uses a contact mic to provide more precise rhythmic content (which I particularly wanted for a percussion piece).
The MPR121 has support for only I2C, which can be implemented with nearly any microcontroller. You can select one of 4 addresses with the ADDR pin, for a total of 48 capacitive touch pads on one I2C 2-wire bus. Using this chip is a lot easier than doing the capacitive sensing with analog inputs: it handles all the filtering for you and can be configured for more/less sensitivity. (read more)
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