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Dub Cadet -  Next Level Musical Fun For Everyone via Arduino project video thumbnail
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One Ball. Billions of musical realities. Create holographic music and LED art.

One Ball. Billions of musical realities. Create holographic music and LED art. Read More
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This project's funding goal was not reached on May 25, 2012.

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Noah Hornberger
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Noah Hornberger

First created  |  2 backed

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About this project

The Dub Cadet is a ball you can hold in your hands, containing a Hi-Fi speaker and a computerized musical brain to transform any kind of rotation into live and original music. Any turn, spin, or wiggle triggers a new chord based on the unique way you have moved the ball.

I believe holographic musical instruments like the Dub Cadet will be commonplace in the future, showing up everywhere from schools (for education), to homes (for fun), to media offices (for creativity), and in music studios (for production). The reason is simple: Free-from rotational control takes a complex process and radically simplifies it:

It's a holographic musical instrument, which means the notes you play are determined by the angle you have turned the ball.

In fact, the Dub Cadet contains no prerecorded melodies or beats. But it does pack specially designed musical DNA to morph your motions into amazing colorized songs. Effortlessly explore musical patterns like never before for hours of creative brainstorming, ear training, and fun.

It's motions are tracked with the same cutting edge electronic gyroscopes used in smartphones, pedometers and the infamous Segway. The data from these motion sensors is processed into real-time harmonies and solo notes using the Arduino programming environment on a custom created circuit board.

Each note of the scale flashes to the beat of your harmonies to create a display of bright animated colors. For more videos see my youtube channel.

Improvised music has the charming ability to help us discover new possibilities through unexpected outcomes and 'happy accidents'. The problem is, it takes a lot of practicing to build up the skills and confidence to improvise. With the Dub Cadet, anyone can enjoy making spontaneous music that sounds great. It uses technology to bridge the gap so that anyone can play.

This magical device enables:

  • Over 10,000 chord possibilities.
  • Endless rhythm possibilities.
  • 52 Polyphonic (multi-note) Instrument voices.
  • Expressive 3D pitch-bend.
  • Self-Amplified Loudspeaker.
  • Headphone and MIDI output.
  • Visual music you can see and hear!

Several buttons let you discover sound in the moment and react to it dynamically, setting off a chain reaction of creative synthesis that I find downright revolutionary. It lets you do more with less, giving you a new interface to simply enjoy the unlimited combinations available.

  • Solo turns the ball into a big 3D pitch-bender that snaps to the notes in your scale for super-cool bendy solo's.
  • Loop repeats your last measure of notes while allowing the rhythm to continue morphing with your motion.
  • Arpeggio breaks each chord into pieces and plays them one note at a time at high-speed for a truly epic progression.
  • Drumbot plays a beat that reacts to your music to fill out the sound.
  • Scale selects the base scale or key signature used to form your chords. There are 16 varieties of scales to explore.
  • Voice selects one of 52 instruments to change the way the Dub Cadet sounds. Make it sound like a trumpet, a guitar, a pitched drum, or classic 8-bit video game, to name a few.

I've worked hard to design a product with features everyone can use and explore. By trying out lots of things, I've been able to keep only the best innovations and tailor them for an extremely flexible and fun musical play experience.

It is well known that the mood of music is largely dependent on the specific scale or key signature that provides it's harmonic backbone. Whether excited, relaxed, funny, ephemeral, or exotic, the feel of the music is created from the relationships formed between the notes. By changing scales, you can completely change the mood of the music.

The Dub Cadet allows you to play in these 16 diverse scales coming from all over the world:

Adonai malakh, Acoustic/Lydian Dominant, Blues, Enigmatic, Flamenco, Gypsy, Harmonic major, Harmonic minor, Hirajōshi, Pentatonic Major, Major, Melodic Minor, Mixolydian, Persian, Prometheus, Ukrainian Dorian.

The Dub Cadet is open source, meaning that anyone who knows a lick about computer programming can start playing with the code to make it do new things. If you have an inspiration for a new feature, you can add it right into the musical brain (Arduino based ATmega328 micro-controller) via USB.  I've worked hard to balance simple MIDI operation, streamlined features, and expandability so you can add your unique touch.

Being a MIDI instrument means it can be outputted to other MIDI synthesizers, voice banks, and computers for further processing.

Streaks of light formed by photographing with a slow shutter-speed.

The Inspiration:

While working at Pixar, I picked up a little secret for creating good character animation: every joint and every limb of the body moves in an arc as it travels through space. In other words, rotation is the fundamental action by which animals and humans move. It's a basic fact that you only really need to consider when animating.

This little secret marinated with my longstanding pursuit of musical exploration until one day I had an inspiration: I wanted to design an instrument that used only rotation to make music. No keys to press, no levers to pull, no strings to strum. It would be a totally unconventional approach to music: a ball. Since rotation is 3-dimentional, it would create a dynamic and super-unique way to structure sound. I was very curious to see how an instrument could use the motion curves of human movements to generate music. The Dub Cadet is the fruit of this pursuit.

My daughter Lydia actually inspired me to go forward and build the Dub Cadet. I saw her playing with toys one morning and it all clicked: Rotation-Toys-Musical-Instrument-Improvised-Gizmo. I understood that a rotational instrument in the shape of a ball would allow her to discover music in a way that was not currently possible. I've had a blast building the prototype and now I am very excited to keep revising and innovating upon the discoveries.

The funding I hope to raise with kickstarter will take the Dub Cadet prototype as seen in the video and turn it into a mass produced gadget for you and your friends to enjoy. I will be buying materials at bulk rates to create a quality product that is also affordable.

The mass produced Dub Cadet will measure 6.25 inches (158 mm)  in diameter and will be created through a 3D printing manufacturing process using stylish and Eco-friendly PLA plastic. PLA is a plastic made from the renewable resources of sugarcanes or cornstarch.

In addition to the Ready to Play Dub Cadet Instrument, I am offering an Unassembled Kit with instructions for those that like to tinker. The kit will come together in about 2 hours max. The source code is available too! From beginner, to expert, or power-user; anyone can push the boundaries of what is possible with this musical platform.

I've spent a lot of time organizing the pledge levels, so you can get a reward that's right for you. Thanks very much for your support!

Note: All Pledges include US shipping. Non-US residents will need to add $25 USD to your donation to cover customs clearance and international shipping and handling.

The Dub Cadet Logo T-Shirt!

Dub Cadet Technical Specifications:
Power: 4 AAA Batteries (6 V).
Analog Audio: On-board Loudspeaker: 3 Watt, 3 Inch Diameter.
MIDI Output: 16 channel.
Max Polyphony: 16 simultaneous sustained notes.
Headphone Jack: 1/8 Inch. 44.1 kHz analog output.

Core Electronics of the Prototype:

The purpose of this kickstarter page is to raise the funds needed to mass produce the Dub Cadet. Pre-order yours today to get an inside look at how an idea turns into a real product. The best part is, you can get one of your own to enjoy!



Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5 USD

    Thanks! Everyone who makes a pledge gets to vote on the colors of the Dub Cadet plastic shell. Should they be black, white, silver, red, blue, or something else? Majority wins and the top two colors will go into production!

    Estimated delivery
    1 backer
  2. Select this reward

    Pledge $21 or more About $21 USD

    Get the Dub Cadet Glow-in-the-Dark Logo T-Shirt. Custom made in your size.

    Estimated delivery
    2 backers
  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $42 or more About $42 USD

    Get the Dub Cadet Glow-in-the-Dark Pull-over Hoodie. Custom made in your size.

    Estimated delivery
    0 backers
  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $82 or more About $82 USD

    1 unassembled Dub Cadet Kit w/ Build Instructions. (some basic soldering and assembly required).

    Estimated delivery
    5 backers
  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $118 or more About $118 USD

    1 assembled, ready-to-play Dub Cadet Instrument.

    Estimated delivery
    14 backers
  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $164 or more About $164 USD

    2 unassembled Dub Cadet Kits w/ Build Instructions. (some basic soldering and assembly required).

    Estimated delivery
    Limited 0 backers
  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $228 or more About $228 USD

    2 ready-to-play Dub Cadet Instruments.

    Estimated delivery
    Limited 1 backer
  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $342 or more About $342 USD

    3 ready-to-play Dub Cadet Instruments.

    Estimated delivery
    Limited 0 backers
  9. Select this reward

    Pledge $416 or more About $416 USD

    A bonus T-shirt and 4 ready-to-play Dub Cadet Instruments or 5 Dub Cadet Kits.

    Estimated delivery
    Limited 0 backers
  10. Select this reward

    Pledge $488 or more About $488 USD

    5 ready-to-play Dub Cadet Instruments and 2 Bonus T-Shirts. If you own a toy store or have lots of friends who like to jam I recommend this option!

    Estimated delivery
    Limited 0 backers

Funding period

- (32 days)