Draw MIDI: A DIY Paper Circuit Project

Update: Alex won first place in NYU Music Technology’s 2014 product design competition!                       Congrats!

 

Today’s Project: Draw MIDI

(Production: Ronny Mraz, Adam November, and Kathleen “Ying-Ying” Zhang, full credits at Youtube)

A digital-based project, Alex Haff’s Draw MIDI uses capacitance sensing to collect electrical signal from a pencil-and-paper keyboard, converts that to MIDI using an Arduino, and then sends the code into your computer via a Max patch. That may sound complicated, but it’s quite simple once you understand the function of each part of the project.

System Requirements and Code

While this project can technically be done on Windows, it takes a bit of finagling. We recommend Mac OSX.

Because Draw MIDI is a digital project, you’ll also need some code. For this project, Alex used both an Arduino sketch and a Max patch. You can find each of them here and here.

The Arduino code will run in the controller’s software on your computer. The Max patch will need to be run in Max. If you don’t own Max, never fear. You can copy and paste the code into Max’s free runtime application.

Step-by-Step

NYU Music Technology is an active member of the Instructables.com community. As such, a step-by-step guide of building the project may be found here.

Edit: Thanks for the feature, Instructables!

We had a lot of fun with this week’s project and hope you will, too! A special thanks to Langdon Crawford for cleaning up and hosting the code.

Draw MIDIPaper Circuits

Paper circuits have been making their way around the tech world because their low-cost components give them great potential for cheap mass production. For DIY, they offer similar affordability, a great availability of materials, and they’re just plain fun. There’s a novelty in creating something interactive from ink and graphite. Usually, our words and drawings can’t fly off the page, but with the addition of electronics they can light up or be heard.

For an industry application of paper circuits, watch our talk with educator Alex Ruthmann.

For some inspiration, check out this Ted Talk, “DJ Decks Made of Paper” by Kate Stone.

And for some great, simple projects the Exploratorium’s Tinkering Studio has you covered.

 

Analog Vs. Digital: The Age-Old Question

Video

Can you really hear a difference between analog and digital recording? What about in synthesis? In a personified rap battle between analog and digital, who would win?

NYU students, having nothing better to do at our ivory tower of academia (I mean, it’s not like we live in one of America’s biggest commercial and cultural centers or anything) love contemplating age-old questions such as these. You may remember some freshmen who previously did ponder whether was better to auto-tune or to not auto-tune. And while these questions may prove inconclusive, the best part is, as always, in the debate.

 

 

So our freshmen rose to the occasion once again to bring forth this rousing performance; a call to arms for their fellow rap battlers. And a cry heard throughout the land did ring: Who won? Who lost? You decide!*

*No seriously, leave a comment below.