Please ensure your seat belts are tight and low across your waist, because here’s the most limited audience for a CDM post ever (and yet it’s still an interesting story). Ryan writes us:

Long-time reader, first-time commenter :-) I am a technical writer at National Instruments in Austin, TX. NI has a graphical programming language called LabVIEW. A couple months ago, we released the LabVIEW DSP Module, which is an add-on for LabVIEW that targets a DSP board we produce called the NI-SPEEDY 33. My friend Brady Duggan is a developer for the LV DSP Module and created a program that uses the DSP hardware as a synthesizer. The code is in LabVIEW but the program itself runs on the DSP chip embedded in the board.

You need a copy of LV, the DSP Module, and the NI-SPEEDY 33 board to run it, but in case any of your users have all this hardware & software, they can download the program [from National Instruments].

Okay, I’m guessing most of you don’t have LabVIEW — it’s a “graphical development environment for creating flexible and scalable test, measurement, and control applications.” But if you follow the link, you can see they actually did figure out a very simple and elegant interface for producing music.

Here’s where I could see this being useful: it’s a perfect opportunity to “cross the quad” at universities and get the science and engineering folks (betcha there’s a department that owns this setup) talking to the music people. Electronic musicians can always benefit from better understanding how sound works, and this demonstrates that quite nicely. On the flipside, music and sound are a terrific metaphor for exploring design and hearing how physical waves function. (Ryan, not sure if that’s what you had in mind — could be other possibilities, as well.)

And if there are any of you white lab coat types out there, say hello! (As shown in the image below of a LabVIEW user, you also wear flannel shirts.) You probably have some ideas, too. And now you have access to a great DSP-powered synth, if you can sneak access to it after hours.

  • onlyocelot

    And I have to admit to having winced. I'm 52, and a college student (having just returned after 32 years to finally get degrees in the disciplines I've been working for decades: photonics, electronics engineering and computer science). I have the student version of Labview, which only set me back $70… but the hardware, just the board, is 4 or 5 hundred dollars! If you don't have student status, the lowest entry price for LV is over $1K, and the price goes up astronomically.

    I'm the kind of geek who'd love to experiment with NI's neat DSP board in labview. But I'd spend the next 2 years writing grant proposals before I could afford it!

    How interested is NI in having this played with? If they're willing to make some hardware available (and the DSP modules for LV if they aren't included in the very reasonably-priced academic version), I can see some people who actually have time to play with it having a go, but I'll be honest: for far less cost, I could get Arturia's academic Moog Modular V software to play with.

    If they really expect a scientist who has all the software and hardware already to have the kind of free time needed to play with this effectively, I wish them the very best of luck!