MunchBox: Motion Controlled Expression for your guitar/bass
MunchBox: Motion Controlled Expression for your guitar/bass
The MunchBox is a motion-controlled expression pedal for any electric instrument. Use your own movement to control your favorite effect
The MunchBox is a motion-controlled expression pedal for any electric instrument. Use your own movement to control your favorite effect Read more
About this project
Ever wish you could control an effect while playing, without the need of a foot-controller or expression pedal? The MunchBox is the answer to one musician's dream of turning his expressive movement into sound.
The MunchBox story:
The idea for the MunchBox came from playing shows with this guy (Jon). After watching a live recording of one performance, Jon realized he moved around a lot. He tended to tilt the neck of the bass up more as the music got louder or faster, and dropped it down as it slowed. Jon wished there was a way to turn these movements into an expression pedal-like control, so he began creating a motion-sensing pedal. After two years of trial and error and several prototypes later, the MunchBox was finally born.
What is the MunchBox?
The MunchBox expression control system (patent pending) consists of a motion-sensing Munch Lead and a controller pedal which translates the angular position of the connected instrument to an expression out signal. The audio signal is not affected and bypasses the controller completely - a must for musicians who prefer pure unfiltered sound from their guitar or bass.
How does it work?
The Munch Lead uses a standard 1/4" mono jack, and connects to your instrument just like any other instrument cable. The other end of the lead has a 6-pin DIN connector (similar to MIDI, but contains an extra pin) which connects directly to the MunchBox, as well as future Munch-ready effect pedals (imagine your favorite effect controlled by your own motion!).
The MunchBox OUT jack is pure unmodified audio and can be connected directly to any effect pedal or amp. The Expression out (EXP) jack connects to any expression in / control in that uses the standard "Tip-Wiper" wiring (compatible with most effect pedals*) We've tested several pedals from Boss, Electro-Harmonix, Eventide, M Audio and Roland, and found they work great with the MunchBox!
*For pedals that don't use the Tip-Wiper wiring, a special "crossover" patch cable can be made available for musicians who want to use the MunchBox with Korg (pre-1995) and Zoom effects pedals.
After plugging in the Munch Lead, the MunchBox lights up and automatically calibrates its output to the current angle. Adjust the sweep (rate of angular change) to fine tune your movement from subtle swaying motions to broad swinging gestures. If you want to recalibrate the pedal at any time, simply press down the the HOLD stomp button for 3 seconds.
The first version of our prototype included an LCD screen and buttons for selecting different output modes. After testing version 1 in studio and at live performances, some users suggested we replace the LCD screen with a easier to read light bar display. In addition to auto-calibration and reducing the angle response time to 10ms, the simplified design now includes two switches:
- GYRO mode (for motion control) or AUTO mode (for LFO)
- a 3-point switch for selecting min/max/sweep levels in GYRO mode, or different LFO modes (square, saw, or sine wave) in AUTO mode
What if I don't own a pedal with an EXP in jack?
A lot of people have asked us if they can use the MunchBox with pedals that don't have an expression in or control in jack. While yes, you could technically modify a big Muff or vintage tonebender to add another jack, we wouldn't recommend it. Instead, take a look at our Munch Mixer, a dual-buffered looper pedal with volume and mix controls
Each control has it's own expression jack, meaning that you can control volume as well as the level of A/B mix for just the right level of sound and effect while you play. Or, connect a standard foot pedal to the Munch Mixer to control the volume and mix levels at the same time! We've found this setup is great for musicians who want more control of their effect output levels onstage.
Where is the MunchBox now?
The MunchBox has been fully tested and is ready to be put into production. The purpose of our Kickstarter campaign is to raise funding for the costs associated with the first production order. These costs include creating plastic molds for professional quality Munch leads, as well as the bill of materials (PCBs, electronics, cables and die-cast aluminum enclosures) for the first run of MunchBox pedals. The total estimated cost to create molds and begin production is $12,000.
Upon reaching our goal of $12,000, the production schedule will begin immediately. Backers can expect to receive their rewards in less than 6 months, based on the following schedule:
The following rewards will be delivered as soon as they become available (note: early bird specials are not listed. See the sidebar for up-to-date rewards)
We hope to provide additional rewards should we reach our goal before the campaign ends. The following stretch goals will be included with every MunchBox version 2 reward as they are met:
Special Thanks from Jon
To say that I've done this project entirely on my own would be an exaggeration. For technological and audio-related engineering help I'd like to give a shout-out to the online communities of tech-savvy musicians and audiophiles who pointed me in the right direction when I went astray. I've learned a great deal from websites like diystompboxes.com, beavisaudio.com, runoffgroove.com and the Arduino community and I felt it would be an injustice not to mention them.
Of course, behind every good idea lies a team of designers. A special thanks to Susan for her wonderful artwork and designs, Nick for his insightful advice and attention to detail, and the video/photo dynamic duo of To and Chung for making the MunchBox look outstanding!
Last but not least, I'd like to thank you, the backer, for supporting this project and helping to create an amazing product for fans of music everywhere. Without you, we could never make this dream a reality. Thank you!
Risks and challenges
The biggest challenge for the MunchBox is initial customer response, i.e. receiving feedback from musicians regarding the MunchBox’s ease of use and compatibility with various instruments and audio effects on the market. As with any new instrument or effect pedal, a slight learning curve is to be expected but ideally this process should be simplified as much as possible. We want the MunchBox to feel natural and intuitive to the musician's movement, and reliable feedback is crucial to this step.
In order to improve the MunchBox and simplify ease of use, the beta testers can help share their experience using the MunchBox version 1 and provide suggestions. Feedback from beta testing the MunchBox version 1 and further testing of the MunchBox version 2 with other effect pedals on the market will help ensure the success of future productions.
Untimely delays and unforeseen circumstances are of course a risk in any project, however as a fellow backer of other Kickstarter projects I feel that 100% transparency and prompt replies are key to resolving any issues that may arise. Backers are welcome to email any questions or concerns they may have, and I will do my best to respond to emails and provide updates as quickly as possible!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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