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Arduino anyone?

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My interest in Arduino came as a result of me getting back into modular synthesis and sound design after a hiatus of over thirty years.

Normally, a reentry into the modular would have been an expensive proposition. But a few years ago, music industry giant Behringer began recreating modules from classic synths such as Moog, Arp, and Roland, and releasing them in Eurorack format at a far more affordable price point (about $100 per module) than anything else that was out there at the time. And while $100 isn't exactly pocket change since you'd need on the average of five modules to do anything musically useful, it was still a far cry from other module builder's prices which were well north of that.

So I began researching, designing, and building out my own synth mainly based on classic Moog System 55 and Roland System 100 inspired modules. (That's a whole separate story I won't go into here.) This is where it was at several months ago. Those empty spaces have since been filled in and my modules have now spilled over into an additional rack.

Arduino anyone?

After awhile, I began wondering if there would be a (hopefully) less expensive and more interesting way to create some of my own modules without getting too involved in the esoterica of analog audio circuits. Besides, DIY is a lot more fun than just buying everything off the shelf. That led me to the Arduino and me wondering how well it'd suit music applications. A little research showed me there are projects for entire synths and multi-effects units being built around an Arduino core. And most of the code being used by such projects is open source.

My programming and computer tech skills are far more advanced than my electronics knowledge when it comes to analog circuitry. And fortunately, the Arduino seems to fit the bill quite well when it comes to interfacing with and controlling real world hardware. So despite being a neophyte to the Arduino, I'm getting up to speed pretty fast.

The language is about as dead simple as you could ask for. Simple C-like syntax. Small but very useful command vocabulary. Even easier to get your head around than Python IMO. And if you can't get a handle on Python, then coding probably isn't going to be for you.

The board I'm mainly using is called a Ruggeduino from Rugged Circuits. Basically it's an Arduino with additional circuitry to provide better protection against overvoltages, excessive current draw, and reversed electric polarity that would fry the standard Arduino board. They also offer versions ruggedized (is that a word?)against environmental conditions so it's more suitable for industrial control applications.

It's been an interesting journey so far despite me not being all that far from where I started out yet. Looking forward to where it leads me. New places and new things are always worth seeking out.  8)


It's such a crazy feeling to be sitting tinkering with a $25 device on a little cutting board and realize you are playing with something that the equivalent of which 60 years ago probably would have cost half a million dollars and been the size of a hotel lobby, and taken a team of people a year to assemble and debug.
-mouser (April 29, 2022, 11:43 PM)
--- End quote ---

It is quite amazing. Especially if you go back to the days of things like the PiC1650 controller chip and it’s ridiculously fussy and hard to program CP1600 companion microprocessor. They had flash EPROMs on that thing. You got one shot to get your code right. If it didn’t make the grade, you tossed it and bought another chip and tried again. Later models used EEPROM so at least you could reprogram them. But you needed an EPROM burner to work with a PiC. Not something you could just run out to your local CompUSA and buy.

A PiC development kit cost a substantial amount of money back in the day. But it was geared towards industrial control applications. And that market was already used to paying big bucks for technology.

PiC has come a long way since then. 
And it’s still used extensively in industry. But it’s a whole different product for a different market than the Arduino serves. And interestingly enough, the Arduino can do an awful lot of what it used to take far more expensive and complicated and proprietary electronics accomplish.

Life is good!  8) :Thmbsup:

Video of my espresso scale in progress can be seen here at the 11:12 mark:

Some recent photos:
Arduino anyone?
Arduino anyone?


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