What are those alien, otherworldly sounds coming out of the iPad? That’s not GarageBand. It’s what happens when Reed Ghazala, the father of circuit bending some decades ago, meets the iPad. Not that it’s his first encounter with products from Apple – he’s been approaching that company’s hardware as he does everything else, prying unexpected life with modifications and experimentation.

But just as “circuit bending” need not be seen as “breaking,” here, too, Ghazala’s modifications make the device more humane, more musical, and – for all the shouting about how the design is perfect – far, far more usable. A breakout and controls mean that you can finally extract sound and video from the iPad in usable form, without the usual, fragile, impractical connections. Reed sends the details to CDM; I can’t wait to see readers build some of these. (I may wind up building two – one for my Apple tab, and one for other hardware experimentation with whatever Honeycomb Android tablet I pick up, which at this point is probably going to be a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. It’ll be doubly important, as apparently Samsung in their infinite wisdom juggle the usual pinouts on their 30-pin connector.)

Whether your sounds tend in this vein or somewhere else altogether, Reed’s DIY instructions look to beat promised commercial offerings from the likes of Akai. (The Akai dock, for the record, hasn’t shipped yet, so it’s no contest for the time being.) As Reed describes it:

I’ve been sneaking around Apple’s garden for a long time, dating back to the Apple II motherboard hacked into my code-munching poly-synth of the early ’80’s. I’ve modded iMacs, towers, endless accessories, and I’ve drastically bent mac-centric code with wonderful result. This movie loosens another brick in Apple’s wall, and opens the iPad’s usability tremendously.

I know I’m not the only individual appreciating the experimental music apps available on the iPad. I’m anxious to support the developers’ fine work. But for musicians, the iPad’s interface can be frustrating. Do you really want to use dongles, mini-jacks and flimsy wire to get in and out of the thing?

This audio breakout solves these problems, is easy to do, and is inexpensive.

No bending here, just a quick, theory-true hack based upon iPad docking charts I found online. Not a superdock. No competition for the Alesis breakout. But if you want a slick, basic and functional DIY audio desk, on the cheap, check this hack out!

The breakout board is available at kineteka.com

Be sure to see the photos and REVISIONS, and pick-up the printable schematic at my iPad Audio Desk flickr gallery:


This audio desk is really fun to use. Hacking the apple is always a good thing. I hope you’ll enjoy the movie! (Let it download for full-screen 1080).

Instructions in the final slide of that Flickr deck:
iPad Audio Desk Schematic

If someone would like to be commissioned to write a step-by-step tutorial with CDM, get in touch and I can help.

  • http://www.hispasonic.com Mudo

    I will love it but I haven't an ipad…

    Really cool!

  • Randy

    That is incredible, almost makes buying an iPad a possibility. Any chance of adding MIDI to this?

  • http://www.eigenzone.org Geert Bevin

    Loving the project and many kudos on putting it together so quickly, doesn't look like a hack at all. I'm eagerly waiting for the productized Alesis IODock, I hope I will not be disappointed.

  • davincicode

    Redd has done it again. My hat goes off to him for creating something like this for us iPad geeks who want to see these options on it.

  • onipsu

    Wait a minute, for months I've read on the Internets that Line In is disabled in the 30-pin connector in iPhone 4 and iPads. Are you telling us that Line In really works through this connector? Also on the iPhone 4? THAT WOULD BE HUGE

  • http://eldorec.com George Whittam

    Actually, the company releasing a dock is Alesis.  I saw it at NAMM and they had to do a revision when iPad2 came out.  Will they need to revise again with iPad3?  Only Jobs holds the key to that riddle.  Super cool project, though, and looks WAY better than the cheapy plastic thing from Alesis. 

  • JDPDos

    Again, every document on the Internet clearly states that Lin-In is hardware-disabled on iPads and on the iPhone 4, so we need confirmation that this hack indeed works.

  • JDPDos

    This definitely does not work for line-in.

  • electronic face

    Seems pretty great, but this is clearly cylon technology. Dr. Ghazala Baltar is up to his old tricks!

  • http://ipad2dock.net Murat

    I have an iPad and totally in love with this DIY project. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/michel.tritz Michel Tritz

    i tryed to do one but it seems that with an ipad2 running 5.1.1 doesn’t work with that schematic ! (need the certification chip to work) i did it with a pass throught breakboard, and as i plug for exemple my AV – USB cable adapter at the end of the break board, then, video and audio come out, but if not plugged it remains the activation until you unplug it, if replug without real cable at top, nothing …