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.

 

A Speaker From a Starbucks Cup?

Part of what we at the Science of Music love about DIY electronics is the tinkering aspect of it. It’s the idea that you can take an everyday object and just…flip the script a little bit to create something new entirely. That’s the spirit with which we present this video project.

We looked at a Starbucks cup and, with just some magnets, a coil of wire, some tape we saw how you could “flip the script” to create a working speaker. Plus, it’s a good excuse to get yourself a frappuccino*.

(*Note: not an action we recommend in January. Unless you’re close to or within the Southern Hemisphere. In which case: Hi, can we come visit?)

A New Project: DIY Electric Slide Guitar

Video

Our compatriots never cease to amaze us.

Student and guitar pro Adam November guests on this episode of the Science of Music to show us all his homemade electric slide guitar! This DIY project was made for an acoustics class at NYU’s music technology program. Watch as Adam shows off his creation and explains how you can make your own guitar from materials easily purchased at your local hardware store.

DIY: Build Your Own Microphone!

This how-to video explains the process of building a dynamic microphone (which, incidentally, can also be used as a loud speaker) from a cup! This rudimentary audio transducer could be used as a quick project for a physics class exploring electromagnetism or an audio technology class exploring transduction. Or you could do it just for kicks.

The fidelity of the completed project is not studio quality (if it was our lives would be a whole lot cheaper), but it’s cool. And on the upside you don’t have to have an EE degree to build it.

Credits:

  • Written and Directed by Travis Kaufman and Nick Dooley
  • Produced with support from The National Science Foundation

DIY: Graphite and Paper Mixer

Once you grasp the concepts behind your gear, you can translate that knowledge into making your own, albiet much simpler, versions of that equipment. This video is a short how-to guide and demonstration for using graphite pencils, paper and wires to make a mixer.  With less than $5 worth of materials, you too can make a basic mixer!

Disclaimer: some pencils were harmed in the making of this video.

Credits:

  • Directed by Langdon Crawford
  • Edited by Sarah Streit
  • Theme Music by Tate Gregor
  • Audio loops collected by Nick Dooley
  • Produced with support from The National Science Foundation