Those snap-tight blocks have a clear appeal for prototypers. Oh, and they're fun to play with. Photo (CC-BY) slackpics.

A Synth Finds a LEGO-Brick Home; Do You LEGO Your Projects?

Snap, snap… LEGO bricks are at some point irresistible for making a synth housing. Our friends at DE:BUG point to a LEGO-built, circuit-bending synth. And the imaginary toy world of LEGO find their way into this instrumental housing. Creator freeformdelusion writes: ClearTone Synth with LFO inside a nice lego project box with a house, dog, flowers, LEDs and a female figure drinking away to the synths excellent sound! Cheers to that, yes! But, with LEGO bricks here and there for the holidays (you know, for kids), I wondered: who out there is prototyping synths and the like with LEGO? Found …

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Virtual Synths: Modeling Gear, as Imagined by Communities and Engineers

Do Androids Dream of Electric Synths? Imagining an instrument from a clean sheet of paper is an essential part of the design process. It can remind us of the extent of possibilities – and, sometimes, why compromise is necessary. The German site Amazona.de this week unveiled mock-ups of an instrument conceived by their community. The design looks terrific, and the specs (below) do read like the sorts of things synthesists would want. My only concern is that the results could be very cost prohibitive; the obvious remedy it seems would be to use digital oscillators in place of the eight-voice …

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DIY monome Case from LEGOs, Live Performance in a Bathroom

At the risk of becoming Create Digital Monomes, here are two things that make me very happy. For anyone who thinks it’s too hard to get hold of a genuine monome, or any of those of you who got the kit and haven’t built a proper case for it, this is for you. FYXDESIGN has posted a terrific tutorial enclosing the monome 40h kit (8×8 grid) inside a custom case made from LEGO bricks. The project comes out of a group at New York University’s ITP digital tech school who saved money, beat the monome’s scarcity, and made lots of …

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GDC: Nintendo’s Iwata on Iterative Prototypes, Teaching Programmers Rhythm

A real highlight for me at the Game Developer Conference was getting to hear Satoru Iwata deliver the keynote. Aside from being CEO of Nintendo as they have launched their most successful console ever, Iwata-san has left a sizable development legacy as a veteran of HAL Laboratory (Balloon Fight, Kirby). In the game community, I think the reception to his keynote was mixed – mostly, it introduced long-overdue storage solutions for Wiiware titles, along with some relatively minor game titles. But as a person interested in design and development – and what innovative interfaces could do for music and not …

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MachineCollective: Open, DIY Modular Controller Platform Coming Soon

Something very funny has happened in the world of music controllers. It started with the rising popularity of Ableton Live, along with the likes of Reaktor and Max/MSP, as musicians started creating more dynamic, rich live performances with computers. Supposedly, this shift should have created new controller designs. If Live was the killer app, where was the killer hardware? Instead, what we’ve gotten is a sort of primordial soup of controller experimentation, with people hacking together circuits, appropriating Wii remotes, abusing and warping commercial controllers, and generally resisting any standardization. The results have been, in short, fabulously chaotic. And maybe …

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