I love the simplicity Ableton Live and other software brings to electronic music performance. It relieves the stress of beat-matching, enabling dj’s to focus on timing, effects and track selection. It also saves them an expensive collection of vinyl.
However, the experience of watching a dj stare at their laptop on stage leaves much to be desired. You can’t see what they’re doing and it almost feels like they’re ignoring you. Sure there are MIDI interfaces that simulate real hardware, but can anyone besides fellow dj’s comprehend subtle knob turning? laptop performances struggle to be viewer friendly.
Enter the Monome, a simple grid of buttons that light up when pressed. See it in action and you’ll agree that it’s much more viewer friendly:
What I find so appealing about these devices, though, is how open they are. You can program the buttons to do whatever you please by adapting one of several open source projects to your needs. The hardware schematics are also open source. The Monome has problems two though: availability and price.
Enter the Arduinome, a do-it-yourself Monome clone powered by the open and inexpensive Arduino microcontroller. Once its custom firmware is installed, the Ardinome is recognized as a Monome and can run all the same software.
As you probably guessed from this post’s title, I’m building one. I’m completely new to DIY electronics, but learning the basics about the Arduino through these tutorials was quite straightforward. Soldering isn’t nearly as difficult as I thought it would be. It’s a pleasant change from programming.
Now that I’ve gotten my feet wet with the Arduino, the next step is to source parts for the rest of the Arduinome. A complete parts list, as well as step by step construction documentation can be found at Basement Leds. Today I ordered a beautiful looking enclosure from Machine Collective and joined a group order for the pcb shield on the Monome boards. Next step is to pick up a sparkfun button pads and pcb’s.
A decision I’ll have to make soon is whether to construct a traditional Monome/Arduinome with monochromatic leds (as document in Basement Leds), or step to Julien Bayle’s full color rgb “Bonome”. Julien told us on the Ableton board that he’s got one up and running without a hitch and that he will document the process on his site in the coming weeks. As dumb as it sounds for a novice like me to take on the additional challenge of making my Arduinome rgb, I’m leaning towards that route. More on this to come!