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Simplified Faceplate

One of the side benefits of our new design is that we have a much simpler faceplate, made of only three types of components: knobs, jacks, and a USB connector. All but the USB connector can be mounted with round holes, which will make the manufacturing of the faceplate a lot easier. And with a bit of luck we should be able to mount all components on a single faceplate PCB.

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16 thoughts on “Simplified Faceplate

  1. The simpler the better!

    Btw, here I have a wild idea, since we’ll be controlling the whole internal patching on an external interface, it would also be good to control all the parameters for the sub modules there. It would be good to replace the knobs with some dedicated playing interface, something e.g. like the Buchla 222e : http://toddbarton.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Buchla222e.png

    This way patch editing activites will be united onto the same interface, and performance would also be on a dedicated playing interface, far better than playing on a touch screen.

    Not to mention that there is nothing like that in euroland yet, thus it would make this product extremely appealing, lots of demands would arise as a programmable controller for a big modular system.

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    • I understand what you are trying to achieve, but I think we should shy away from developing custom controllers at this stage. The reason for it is that different people like different types of controllers. For example, I love the monome grid, but some people would prefer a LinnStrument, or a Madrona Labs Soundplane.

      Instead of developing yet another controller, we should try to make it easier to connect existing ones to the platform, and it will require a lot more work than simply providing a MIDI or USB interface. What we need is a simpler software development environment that will make it easier for people to create the right drivers and user interfaces for a given controller. Having the Raspberry Pi in there should help quite a bit.

      Also, I have the feeling that current switching modules have only scratched the surface of what is possible. Most importantly, having all knobs connected to a digital potentiometer means that all knob settings can be controlled by a voltage level. If you combine that with dynamic patching, you start playing on a whole different plane.

      Therefore, it will take time for people to figure out how to take advantage of this new realm of possibilities, and when they do, they will want to develop specific controllers that can support the patterns they discovered. Therefore, we should focus on creating the underlying infrastructure, and let a thousand flowers bloom.

      Does it make sense?

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      • Yeah, it certainly makes sense, but I would also like to point out there are things like this already on the market, like the monome aleph and nw2s::b, with aleph very close to the current ishizeno concept. And the fact that monome releases the fixed feature euro module series after aleph, and nw2s::io after the nw2s::b, which makes it a bit clear that what most musicians or modular users want are “packages” of features and interfaces that are immediately playable, and the fact is that these fixed feature products are also deep enough for one to explore for a long time.

        With the current vast modular selection, modular systems are already very open platforms to experiment with, which are deep enough that would cost one a lifetime to explore while requiring no extensive programming or circuit knowledge.

        And if a user would want something totally open and customized, the easiest way is available through Max/MSP or pd, coupled with the vast available digital/analog interfaces.

        Again, I would say that the open-ness of musical instruments is overrated IMHO, and the all-in-one factor of ishizeno still should be most critical. If a user wants open, there are already many choices out there.

        One thing I found out during my experimenting with synth building is that when the complexity of a piece of musical instrument is over a certain threshold (different for each user), it would not encourage musical expression, but inhibiting it.

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      • I think I understand what you are trying to say, and I must agree. Then what we need is a proof-of-concept. A clear demonstration of what is possible. A cross between the LinnStrument, Madrona Labs Soundplane, and monome grid. You want the pressure-sensitive interface of the LinnStrument, the wood of the Soundplane, and the matrix of the monome. How do we put that together? We start with a nice piece of CNC-machined black walnut. Then, you add 36 x 8 buttons that are sensitive to both pressure and torque. On the x axis, you get 4 octaves. On the y axis, you get 8 polyphonic channels. You want wood, because wood. But you want it clean like a monome grid. And you want the buttons to be illuminated, so that you can use this interface for both playing and sequencing.

        What do you think?

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      • That sounds awesome! A pressure and torque sensitive 36×8 grid that’s equally great for realtime playing and sequencing. Any component / materials available for an interface like this? I think Keith McMillen’s interface is a great example.

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      • No. But I think we could build one from scratch. The only challenge will be to find the right button. I know who to ask for the wood working, and the electronics are trivial.

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      • Yes, a dedicated interface would take i8 to a whole new level!!!

        How about capacitive sensing? Touch pads that can be done with PCB traces so that would also keep the cost down, also LEDs can be on the other side of the PCB for visual feedback, e.g. : http://www.snyderphonics.com/products.htm

        And I also have a bit of experience in using them : mengqimusic.com/voltagememory

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      • I think real buttons are nicer to the touch. As you wrote, Keith McMillen got it right in that respect. All we need is the same kind of pads, smaller, on a nice piece of wood.

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      • I would not worry too much about cost for a first proof-of-concept. If your goal is to provide an alternative to the keyboard, it has to be solid, good looking, and nice to the touch. The kind of piece that a luthier would build.

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      • And more fundamentally, I think you’re right. The i8 is so radical that we really need to think about a simple user interface that will let musicians take full advantage of its capabilities. The smartphone/tablet UI is only part of the answer. A controller that could mix playing and sequencing would take it to a whole new level.

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