I’ve mentioned the Monome project a couple of times here over the last year… the range of open source MIDI controllers looks fab but seems well-nigh impossible to get hold of, as they sell out immediately whenever a new batch gets made. They’re not cheap either, although though they do look beautifully made.
Fortunately since they’re an open source hardware project, enthusiasts around the world have been building their own, typically using Arduino which is fast becoming the building-block of choice for creating your own hardware devices. There still doesn’t seem to be a one-stop shop for an Arduinome kit, but groups of would-be owners are clubbing together and getting PCBs fabricated. Good old Sparkfun are also supplying 4×4 button pads along with PCBs that can hold the LEDs. After that, the last hurdle is a decent case.
Enter XNDR, a small multidisciplinary design studio from the Netherlands, and their Machinecollective project. Not only are they producing a range of monome-like cases, but they have this plan for a whole set of prototyping modules you can use to build your dream controller — including sliders, switches, a patchbay, even a TFT screen.
It looks a bit like buglabs for controllers.
I find it very inspiring that real, usable open-source products like these are now seeing the light of day, and maybe even giving commercial offerings a run for their money. Along with the monome, the aurora mixer and stribe multi-touch controller are showing the way forward for musicians and DJs who want to roll their own. (machinecollective are also doing a case for the stribe.)
Still early days yet, but this looks pretty exciting!