About this project
Fluxus One Voltage Sequencer
A sample patch with the Fluxus One, played by Richard Devine
Level up your modular rig
Adding Fluxus One to your modular is an instantly gratifying experience. It highlights the capabilities of your existing gear, and provides you with a fine precision tool to simultaneously control multiple facets of your modular patch. It will help you to bring more pythagorean musicality into your system, or allow you to embrace utter chaos with its modulation and microtonal capabilities. We have worked very hard to bring a concept to life.
Four channels, sixty four steps
Each output channel can send one gate, and two CV signals. Each CV output range is 20Vpp. Each pitch output is quantized, and will sequence over a user definable 10V range anywhere within the 20V swing. In a world of analog and digital modules, each with unique CV input requirements, the Fluxus One will allow you to adapt the output voltage to the range of the module you are sequencing. Each channel can behave as an independent sequencer, and can be externally clocked from individually. Per channel settings include step length, clock division, scale quantization as well as input modulation mapping.
Four gate outputs, four pitch outputs, four modulation outputs
FLXS1 Voltage Monitoring
An Analog Devices AD5676 16-bit Octal nanoDAC+ drives eight control voltage outputs. four are dedicated to pitch, and four are dedicated to modulation. Modulation outputs can trigger an arbitrary voltage level, send tempo synced or free LFOs or even send an envelope signal (in development). The variable glide circuit (as described in the next section) allows LFO and envelope signals, while being digitally generated, to be as smooth as an analog signal source.
Sequenced LFOs + envelope generators
Per-step LFO sequencing means that you are able to change the amplitude, frequency and waveform of four separate LFOs on any step. Envelope generation is also in the works, allowing you to trigger attack, sustain and release envelopes on each step.
The scope in this video is analyzing the CV2 sequenced LFO output going to an Erica VCF CV input
Programmable analog glide switch
The above gif shows the CV output of a sequence, which has glide turned on for some steps, as well as smooth sinewave LFO signal from the first channel.
Each CV output signal path contains a dedicated variable glide circuit with a resolution of 256 levels of glide duration. This circuit is switched, so when glide is shut off, there is truly zero slew during voltage change. The glide circuit is also used for LFO smoothing, allowing the Fluxus One to create perfect sinewave signals. The maximum glide time for each step around 5 seconds. See Kraftwerk: Metropolis.
Per-step arpeggio settings
Each step can trigger an arpeggio with a user-defined pitch, length, direction, speed, octave range and interval. The gate signal can be triggered as a one hit or held open for the duration of the arpeggio. Arpeggios can also overlap. This feature enables the user to quickly create complex sequences with very few steps.
Four assignable gate inputs + Four assignable CV inputs
Fluxus One has four gate, and four CV inputs. Input signals can be mapped to various modulation destinations through channel specific configuration. Input mappings will include random pitch, play direction, reset, go to random step, gate inversion, X + Y axis advance, glide modulation, glide invert, pitch transposition, arp type, arp speed, arp octave and arp interval.
MIDI input and output
Fluxus One synced to an Elektron Rytm as the MIDI clock source.
Fluxus One has MIDI input and output via two 3.5mm jacks on the front panel (3.5mm <-> 5-pin MIDI cable sold separately). MIDI sync input and output is currently supported for outboard gear. Future plans for MIDI include a method of composing sequences with MIDI keyboard, as well as other MIDI controller based performance modes. MIDI output to other synthesizers is planned as well.
Front-facing USB port
The front-facing MicroUSB port allows users to sync with MIDI over USB, backup sequencer data to a computer using SYSEX, as well as update system software.
Custom-designed silicone buttons
Twenty eight beautiful, RGB illuminated, 280 gram force, semi-transparent, silicone buttons have been custom-designed and prototyped by hand for Fluxus One.
Open source design
The Fluxus One OS is currently available on github, and will be open source from day one. Once Fluxus One sales cover development cost, the entire schematic and PCB design files will be made open source as well. The OS runs on Teensyduino by Paul Stoffregen of PJRC.com
Project status & demos
After two an a half years of development:
- Hardware design has been finalized and tested
- A run of five prototype units has been completed with our contract manufacturer WMD in Denver, Colorado
- Production issues have been identified and resolved
- All long lead parts have already been ordered for the first two runs
There are a number of things still do to outside of hardware, but take a look at a few of these short demos to see what it is currently capable of:
Soldering Iron Acid
3 module challenge
A piece inspired by Miles Davis' "Calypso Frelimo"
Here is a track from Skylar King, sequenced with the Fluxus One
Still to do
The operating system is still in beta. That being said, the sequencer engine is solid. It syncs tightly to external clocks, doesn't drift, and doesn't skip steps. I will be making a blog post in the near future about the engine and its inner workings, which are all open source.
After Superbooth17, I will return to the keyboard and continue improving the Fluxus One OS. A number of features are still in the works. Anticipate software updates in the weeks and months to come.
Near term feature Road Map:
- Step multi-select
- Play selected steps only
- Envelope output (from CVB - same as LFOs)
- Non-linear oscillator mapping (tube oscillators)
- Auto tune pitch CV outputs (using CV input)
- 4 Pattern 4 Channel matrix trigger mode (Ableton style)
- Modulation Matrix
- Gate Input Expansion Module - CV input expansion module
- Microtonal and non equal temperment scales (Hindu, Colundi, 17 note, 33 note, etc...)
Work began on the Fluxus One in late 2014. The first prototype was built in January and February of 2015. Back then it was called the AFX-01. The dreamlike melodies of Richard D. James provided the initial inspiration for the vision that would be come the Fluxus One. The core concept of Fluxus One is a sequencer powerful enough to be able to encapsulate the intricacies within the music of Aphex Twin. It is believed that this has been achieved.
The first iteration, seen above, was a breadboard with a Teensy micro controller, an OLED module, some Neopixels, a rotary encoder and a SAM2695 sound chip. The idea was to design a sequencer with a built-in sound engine. The original concept was a device which would allow you to compose sequences entirely on the sequencer without any external voices required.
Here is a short video I made that goes through all of the different phases which I captured moments of:
In the end, Fluxus One went through about 12 hardware prototype revisions.
About the title: "Fluxus One"
During the 80’s, Tenkai’s father Hiroshi Kariya was part of an art movement known as Fluxus. He lived with Nam Jun Paik at 359 Canal St. Tenkai views the modern modular synthesis movement as an extension of Fluxus:
"In Fluxus there has never been any attempt to agree on aims or methods; individuals with something unnamable in common have simply naturally coalesced to publish and perform their work. Perhaps this common thing is a feeling that the bounds of art are much wider than they have conventionally seemed, or that art and certain long established bounds are no longer very useful.” - George Brecht
Fluxus is a perspective shift on life and art. Fluxus is life as art. Fluxus is art as life. The organic nature of the modular synthesizer industry has taken on an autonomous aspect, fed by the explorations of individual artists. The amazing new devices that are proliferating within the industry enable us to access realms of sound which have never been accessed before, in new and exciting ways. Modern modular synthesis is changing the way we relate to music, and allowing anyone - especially those who have not had their minds confined by traditional musical training - to create beautiful sounds that reveal to us what music could be, and therefore show us aspects of reality, and ourselves, that have been hitherto unknown to human minds.
Modular on the Spot, a recent phenomenon of decentralized performances conceived of by Bana Haffar and Rodent, has exhibited how modular synthesis can bring people together in a way that blurs lines between performer and audience, as well as the lines between genre and sound. Seeing a network, not just of machines, but of happenings with human beings, being patched together through a common interest of inter-dimensional sound exploration is seeing Fluxus manifest itself in reality. These events are the veins of autonomy that feed the moment.
Fluxus One as a statement speaks to a vision of creativity which can exist not just in the creations of the artists, but in the creations and daily lives of designers and manufacturers. These are the craftspersons of the vessels that artists employ to transport the consciousness of themselves, and their audiences.
Risks and challenges
The FLXS1 hardware design has been completed. Over the past two years, we have designed and built 12 prototypes by hand. We have run into and overcome a significant number of challenges, and we believe that we have arrived at a rock solid hardware design. We have 6 units out in the wild currently undergoing rigorous beta testing by some of the industry’s best to ensure that we don’t run into any problems down the line. Zetaohm has been working closely with William Mathewson Devices (WMD) in Denver, CO to handle all pick and place manufacturing. Final assembly will be completed by hand in San Francisco, CA.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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