Monday, July 16, 2012

Apollo 13: First Thing's First...

See that? That's the chase and me cutting to it.

I've been getting a lot of tweets, emails, facebook messages and all sorts of comments on various blogs about my replica of Sasha's Maven controller for Ableton Live. I'm thrilled, flattered, and genuinely surprised at the interest in this project for something my friend reminded me I said sometime ago is "...just another midi controller but...ya know in the shape of a maven." Because let's be honest, it is.

That's cool and all...but what about the parts?
Oh, you mean these?

$200 - pushbutton leds
$180 - the actual MIDI interface*
$20 - all faders (big and small)
$20 - a sheet of 6061 aluminum
$20 - a sheet of 16ga steel
$11 - knobs
$10 - nylon stand offs and matching screws
$10 - all resistors
$8 - various wire
$5 - perf board
$3 - all diodes

Sweet, but...uhh...what about that * business?
Custom thingy by me?
Builder Brain?
Highly Liquid?
These are all brands you may know, and some you may not. The truth is, all of them were used towards constructing this thing. In fact I either own, have owned, taught, learned, intentionally blew up, or in some way shape or form interacted with every single one of these things. Including building my own from scratch. I taught myself MIDI sysex and already knew some basic programming, so originally when this thing was at its inception was a 100% built by hand MIDI interface with 30 inputs. But after various ups and downs and learning a great deal of information about all things MIDI and all these little devices I settled on one to progress forward.

The Builder Brain by Livid Instruments.

I'm sure someone is wondering why i picked that thing. The price?! The why?! The horror...or something! 
The truth is after completing major portions of this project (acquiring parts and doing CAD) I was wasting a lot of time outside of the project. It's one thing to learn things for the sake of this project, it was another when they took me off in entirely different directions and I lost focus on this thing. The biggest one was building a midi interface myself from scratch. This was easily a good 3 weeks of tinkering, soldering, programming, etc that ultimately I started realizing was becoming a very not feasible timeframe if I intended on sharing the plans with others. I certainly learned a lot but again, just wasn't feasible for everyone else. When I held the first plastic cut of the faceplate in my hand I could see the end of the project even though it was only the beginning. But entirely DIY midi for 127 wouldn't be feasible to make this a casual DIY project for anyone. If my goal (and it is) is to empower djs, musicians, producers, random hobbyists and the sort this had to be easy and allow anyone of any skill level the ability to produce this otherwise fantastic device that only Sasha holds.

But again, that beginning struggle was worth it. I came out more knowledgeable because of it and I truthfully am beyond thrilled to share the results with you. As I said in the end of the original post quoting Adam Savage, reaching the end of this exercise was never the point of the exercise to begin with.

The builder brain for $180 while may seem like a high price tag offers the following right out of the box - 
64 analog inputs
128 Buttons
192 LEDs

and it powers it all over a single USB jack that performs send and receive. In addition it offers dedicated physical MIDI IN and MIDI OUT jacks.

I don't think I deserve the credit on this project, it should really go to Livid Instruments.

So What Happens Next?
I viewed these two points as possibly the most important questions of the entire project and thus am answering them immediately, upfront, and in the most candid fashion possible here. Had I posted any answers in forums, or comments or anywhere else...The point is I'm trying to avoid rumors/guesswork about my project and want an authoritative place for people to go about this project. As far as the upcoming posts? The nitty gritty. The build photos. The details. The part numbers. The tools needed. More...stuff. I welcome and encourage comments, emails, hell I'll take your skype phone calls email me and we can arrange something.

I'm shooting for Thursday evening (7.19) to discuss the parts list. Unless the community at large prefer I do something else? Leave your response in the comments!

Seriously, if it isn't clear by now - I'm going to show everyone how to build these. 
Just...gimme some time to write this stuff! Please!

Bright eh?

Continue the story at...


DOGMA said...

You are a hero. Thanks again.

Unknown said...

Take your time brother. With such a complex project for such a nice controller, waiting some time is all good! Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

How could it be possible that anyone get annoyed or ungrateful for having to wait a short while to get priceless info and bucket loads of generosity for free? I can wait patiently and would hope all else do the same.

Adam Dzak said...

To the three guys who have probably left some of the most positive responses, new post!