Arduinome – OSEC #2



The Arduinome is an open source controller based on the Monome design, which was developed by the Arduino Monome Project, now FlipMu. It’s functionally the same as the Monome, but the big plus/minus, depending on your point of view, is that you have to put it together yourself.

The controller

The controller is essentially a square box with 64 back lit rubber buttons that can be programmed to do whatever you want. The most obvious use is to use the buttons as a step sequencer, but there are some interesting lateral-thinking approaches to the controller. My favorite has to be Boiingg. It’s a fun implementation for the controller and a great use of the LEDs to show that duration between notes is due to the bouncing lights.

The build

As for the build there’s a lot going on with this project and it would be very frustrating for someone who isn’t already comfortable soldering, so probably not for the beginner. For those with a basic understanding of electronics and soldering it should be very doable. The project is extensively documented and help is available on the Monome forums and other electronic music forums. There’s also a series of videos talking through the parts and documenting the build process and a lot of blogs where people have documented their own builds so there’s no shortage of information.

The parts are mostly commercially available and can be bought from suppliers like Farnell, Digikey and Radionics with the button pads and boards available from Sparkfun. The only part that might be difficult to source is the breakout shield for the Arduino, as these need to be custom manufactured, but people sometimes organise group buys on the Monome forums. The other major component of the build after the electronics is the casing with several companies like Machine Collective sell cases and faceplates. Alternately you could make your own case, with people embedding Arduinomes into things like a NES or building their own custom versions.

To sum up

The Arduinome is a great little controller that fully embraces the idea of open source hardware. Considering the great community around it and the large quantity of information available on forums and blogs it’s a project I’d have no hesitation taking on. The devices itself provides all the functionality of the Monome while giving you the opportunity to build your own controller and get hands on with the technology literally building you music from the base up. The blank canvas approach to electronic music is really interesting and this controller offers so much for anyone willing to get creative with the interface. If you want to hear what’s possible with the Monome/Arduinome the Monome community have recently released not one, but two free albums. Check them out here and here and here’s a video showing someone making a track with an Arduinome.