Saturday, February 23, 2013

The MoleculeSynth: low-cost, modular music synthesizer at Portland Mini Maker Faire

MoleculeSynth at Portland Mini Maker Faire 2012
I met Travis Feldman of Portland, OR at his Portland Mini Maker Faire booth last September. He was displaying and demonstrating his DIY modular music synthesizer, the MoleculeSynth. I meant to immediately blog about it here as part of a series about the Faire, but just didn't get to it... here it is, a bit late, but better than never.

The Molecule consists of hexagonal circuit blocks ("elements") that can be interconnected like Legos by the user to create a custom musical instrument. Individual blocks implement elementary synthesizer signal-generation, signal-processing, and controller functions, such as voltage-controlled oscillators (VCOs), voltage-controlled amplifiers (VCAs), low-frequency oscillators (LFOs), MIDI interface, touch control, and so on.

Travis had a successful Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the MoleculeSynth back in September. He was looking for $15K, and garnered well over twice that.

You can see the available Molecule elements here. One that I don't see there, but was told would be available, was a breadboard that allows the real DIY aficionado to make his or her own custom block in a compatible format.

The MoleculeSynth looks like a great low-cost way to learn about and experiment with the technical details of music synthesis circuitry, both analog and digital types. It could also be a great introduction to electronics for aspiring makers or engineers of any age.

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