The Kyub: a Three-Dimensional Feather Touch MIDI Keyboard
The Kyub is a Maker-Friendly musical interface (MIDI) kit using Open Source Software and easily assembled at home by just about anyone.
What is the Kyub?
The Kyub is a maker friendly, open source MIDI keyboard that provides a new window to musical performance. Capacitive sensing gives the Kyub extremely sensitive action and an internal accelerometer allows the volume of each note to be precisely controlled for versatile musical expression. You can attach multiple Kyubs to a computer synthesizer or digital audio workstation for solo play, jamming with friends, or composition. A computer with a synthesizer program is required to make music, Almost any computer-based synthesizer can be used--we provide information on connecting the Kyub to the free demo version of Propellerhead Reason which provides access to hundreds of high quality sounds. Check the hardware requirements here: http://www.propellerheads.se/products/reason/new/faq/
- The Kyub assumes the avatar of drums
The Kyub program can be easily modified to: change the notes assigned to each pad, change the MIDI channel and change the chords assigned to the chord pads in the chord mode, move notes to make them easy to play, change your instrument from guitar to klaxon, play almost any chord progression.
We give you super-documented source code using the popular Arduino programming environment (simple C personalized for the Teensy) that will let you set the scale, tweak the note velocity curves, even map different instruments to different pads (say, drums and fife) to get exactly the musical experience you're looking for.
Certified code jockey? Our hyper commented source code should give you the tools you need to completely change the Kyub DNA. Make a loop recorder, a drum machine, an arpeggiator, assign pads to play musical phrases, tap into the accelerometer for after touch, pitch bending, or scale changes, squeeze the final bit of latency out. We'd love to see where you can take this.
Note on the Kits
The kits require soldering and some assembly skills. You can see what is involved at this link http://www.servoelectricguitar.com/Kyub_build_log.pdf. The kits are probably not a good choice if you have never worked in electronics or programming unless you have some local support. The entire assembly takes around 5 hours plus the time it takes you take to decorate the housing. All the parts are included in the full kits, a Teensy 2.0, a printed circuit board with a surface mount accelerometer, all of the electronic components, pads, laser cut housing, and bolts & screws.
- What tools and materials are needed to build a Kyub? A soldering iron and solder, a wire stripper, screw drivers, needle nose pliers, wood glue.
How did the Kyub come about?
I've been working on electronic musical devices for about 10 years. My servoelectric guitar was featured in Popular Science here: http://www.popsci.com/entertainment-amp-gaming/article/2009-03/homemade-guitar-hero?page=0%2C1 Since then I've been working on providing a more intimate and performance friendly interface to electronic synthesizers and digital audio workstations. In particular, I wanted an open source platform constructed of standard components anyone could tailor to particular demands. I teamed up with Petyr Stretz a hacker and electronic music expert and Peggy Brown an industrial designer to see if I couldn't create a design that was functional, innovative and beautiful. We've been working in the last four months to perfect this vision and bring it out in an easy to use kit form.
What are the features of the Kyub?
- 11 fully programmable feather touch keypads on five surfaces of a 3 inch wooden cube. ·
- Three axis 3G accelerometer usable to control note volume, after touch or pitch bending ·
- A Teensy AVR microcontroller with native USB MIDI support programmable with the Arduino tool chain. ·
- Three open source programs for immediate experimentation and playing providing major minor scales pentatonic, blues scale and Japanese scales, chord mode playing, string mode playing and percussion mode playing. ·
- Compatible with most software synthesizers including the free demo of Propellerhead Reason Essentials providing access to hundreds of high quality synthesized instruments. Works with iPad-based synthesizers as well using the camera adapter accessory ·
- Easy to assemble laser cut wood housing that will accept a variety of finishes.
How does the Kyub work?
The internal circuitry monitors each of the keypads to immediately detect even the lightest finger touch reflected in a capacitive disturbance. Acceleration of the Kyub housing associated with a finger touch is converted to a note loudness which together with a pitch determined by the keypad is transmitted over a USB cable in standard MIDI format. The Kyub has low latency on the order of 3 ms providing a highly responsive musical experience.
Reward Level 1: Pledge $5 or more and get all the documentation you need to build your own Kyub. Save days of design work with the Eagle files needed to create the printed circuit board, SVG files compatible with Ponoko to laser cut a housing; source code files, a complete build log, instruction manual and more.
Reward Level 2: Pledge $26 or more and get all of the above plus a printed circuit board with a professionally installed three axis accelerometer, a reusable Teensy ($16 value) and printed circuit board parts. Add some pads, switches, and wires (oh yeah, and a housing) and you're in business. Thinking dried gourds? Go for it!
Reward Level 3: Pledge $65 or more and get all of the above plus the rest of the parts and housing and USB cable needed to build a complete Kyub as shown on this page. Assemble and finish the housing (try crazy paisley) and you can have a one-of-a-kind musical parallelpiped.
Reward Levels 4 & 5: Pledge $250 or more ($199 for early buyers) and get all of the above but assembled for you. You can be jamming on your USB using synthesizer before you've even unpacked it. Select a color from Sangria, Green Tea, Rotwood, or Natural finish with smoke accents. Fully tested and musically infused.
How are we going to use the money?
The money from this campaign will let us get volume pricing on the various parts so we can offer the kits for a price far below what it would cost an individual to purchase the necessary components. We will also purchase an Eagle license that lets us provide printed circuit Eagle files on a commercial basis. Hopefully we will have some left over to start a web site for more info for Kyub users.
What's the status of the design?
We are now on our fifth iteration on the design and have final PC board artwork, final laser cutting artwork and a full tested bill of materials. All that's needed is to make a bulk order for parts, and, in the case of the fully constructed Kyubs, fabricate the Kyubs themselves. We have made and tested about six of the final design already and don't see any problem in making the offered 70.
Here is our anticipated fullfillment schedule. We have considerable experience in assembling the completed Kyubs and the driving factor of the schedule is the time taken to receive the parts from the vendors. Because these are not large quantities of parts and are indicated to be in stock ,we do not anticipate any substantial delays.
- Completion of Kickstarter campaign: April 27, 2014
- Release of Funds: May 15, 2014
- Order Parts from Current BOM: May 16, 2014
- Release of Documentation for Level 1-5: May 25, 2014
- Receipt of All Parts: June 16, 2014 (30 days)
- Begin Assembly of Full Products (Levels 4, 5): June 20, 2014
- Begin Mailing out Kits: (Levels 2, 3): June 20, 2014
- Complete Assembly of Full Products (Levels 4, 5): July 15, 2014
- Complete Mailing out Kits (Levels 2, 3): July 30, 2014
- Complete Mailing out of Full Product (Levels, 4, 5): July 30, 2014
Risks and challenges
We see very little risk unless market disruptions greatly change the pricing for the components. The Teensy microcontroller is critical to this particular version, and available from only a single source, but they have indicated they can easily handle the quantity we require. Working versions of the software are in hand. Other components could be substituted for the components we are using with some minor delay in testing. In short, don't foresee any major obstacles.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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