Open Source Electronic Controller #1 :: Introduction


Open source logoI’m really interested in the Open Source Hardware (OSHW) phenomenon that’s grown off the back of the FLOSS movement. There’s a great spirit of collaboration in the air in general at the moment and some really interesting devices are being developed and their designs released. It’s amazing that the people taking the time and effort to create interesting hardware then release the plans for free to the world at large. The most prominent device to date is probably the Arduino, but there are lots of other different devices for different applications available. Where open source is really getting interesting is the area of personal fabrication with open source 3D printers like the the Makebot available, and affordable, and with the Lasersaur laser cutter currently under development. It’s going to be interesting to see what the future holds in terms of OSHW.

Moving away from the wider OSHW movement though, the focus of this series of posts will be on the OSHW electronic controllers currently available. I had the good fortune to spend some time at STEIM last August, where I got a baptism of fire in what makes an effective electronic controller and how to best express musical ideas using physical devices. It was a really inspiring experience and I’ve been thinking about physicality in electronic music and  building my own electronic controllers ever since. This series will be about surveying the existing OSHW electronic controllers and discuss what makes for an effective electronic controller.

I’ve had no physical experience with any of these controllers so these article will be talking about the potential buildibality of the controllers for a novice, how the controller has addressed the idea of physical control of electronic music and the general desirability of each of the devices. The resources provided by the creator of each device will be examined along with the resources and communities that have built up around around some of the controllers. It will also be a change for me to covet some of the jaw dropping controllers that are currently available and hopefully give me the impetus to get started making one of these for myself. I’ll be doing 5 posts, one every two weeks, starting the 16th of January with a post about the Arduinome. I haven’t decided on all of the controllers yet, but I’ll definitely be looking at the Arduinome, Soundplane and Aurora. Stay tuned for more open source controller hi-jinx.