Sometimes, when you want something, you have to make it yourself – literally.
The blog Music Thing, back in the day, was a favorite reason for any music tech lover to fire up the browser. Now, Tom Whitwell – whose day job at The Times of London keeps him plenty busy – is back, with open source modular hardware. The Music Thing Random Sequencer is an analog module you can examine and modify, one with completely open source licensing, inspired by classics like Don Buchla’s 266 Source of Uncertainty module.
If you want one for yourself, though, the process is a little different: Tom is using the open hardware module not just to free the source behind the design, but with the assumption that fans of the hardware will go off and make the thing themselves. He’s crowd-sourcing production, in other words – suggesting some places to find parts and fab boards, and then letting people get into the manufacturing business.
As for the module itself, here’s how Tom describes it:
The Random Sequencer is a circuit that produces clocked randomly changing control voltages. These can also be locked into loops that repeat every 8, 16 or 32 steps.
The looping, of course, is essential – in case you were imagining total melodic chaos (not that there’s anything wrong with that), you can generate a random tune you like and then repeat it.
The open hardware part relies on Creative Commons licenses, and project files like Eagle CAD and Gerbers. There’s a front panel included, too, though of course that’d be the easiest part to modify. For part sourcing, vendor Mouser comes through with easy Bills of Materials – MeeBlip co-creator James Grahame just used one to help me get workshop parts. It’s a beautiful thing.
Now, the big question is, will someone step in as a reseller or to organize even something simple like a group buy? What do you think of the Music Thing Random Sequencer? Is this hardware you want? (Or could you modify it into something you want?) And is crowd-sourced hardware appealing to you? Let us know.
In the meantime, here’s what it all sounds like:
Since Music Thing is dormant as a blog and, as happened to me last week, I’m sometimes away from the Internet, here’s a project: connect this to a text generator for a Random Blog Uncertainty Generator. I’ll wait. (Maybe it can query eBay and YouTube keywords or something.)