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The NDLR is for people who want to make their synths sing, in key and in time. Creating endless arpeggios and pads with ease.
The Kickstarter campaign for The NDLR is over, but its not too late to get in on the action. Click the link below.
The Kickstarter campaign for The NDLR is over, but its not too late to get in on the action. Click the link below.
248 backers pledged $53,406 to help bring this project to life.

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The NDLR Super Arpeggiator, Multi-Part Polyphonic Fun

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Stretch Goal #2... ($50k)  MET THE GOAL!

Prototyped and tested, but had not decided to commit to...Get The NDLR Kickstarter to $50K and we will add a Hardware clock/sync output on a 1/8" (3.5mm) jack. Clock divide for slowing down an external sequencer, great for slowing down chord sequences. Configurable Pulse Per Quarter note (PPQ).

If we see a good reaction to this, we'll look into a couple of other CV related interfaces we could do that won't delay the shipping date! 

Stretch Goal #1 - ($45k)    MET THE GOAL!

Get this Kickstarter up to $45K, and we will add an arpeggio Pattern and Rhythm editor!   

  • While in Pattern Editor mode, you will be able to create a note pattern that will play against the selected diatonic scale (or chord notes depending on mode). 
  • You can also set the number of octaves the pattern will play across.  
  • You can save and recall patterns in the Pattern editor. Once saved, the patterns will be selectable with the pattern knobs. The saved patterns will follow in the list of predefined patterns.

While in Rhythm editor mode, you can recall and store rhythm patterns. For each note and rest in the pattern, you can set note length.  

Stay tuned for more details in the specs section below.

Demo#2 from Genshi Media Group

NDLR video play list

(more videos below)

What is The NDLR...

We love our synthesizers but don't play keyboards all that well, so we made The NDLR (pronounced Noodler). It plays up to eight synths and sits between your sequencer & keyboard controller and your sound modules. The NDLR keeps your oscillators busy by playing chord and arpeggio notes over several MIDI channels so you can keep your fingers busy tweaking the patterns, patches and twisting knobs!

The goals of The NDLR: 1. Play chords and arpeggios on multiple synthesizers.  2. Enable chord changes on all the notes at the same time.  3. Enable key and mode changes.  4. Enable rhythm changes while maintaining BPM. 

The NDLR can play up to eight synthesizers via MIDI. It can independently send...

  • a bass line to one synth.
  • an arpeggiated sequence to your favorite lead synth.
  • chord notes of a selectable range and position to up to four synthesizers by using "interleaved poly-chaining".
  • a drone note targeting those exotic evolving synths. 
  • a transposed MIDI pass-through. Transposes from the key of “C” on your favorite external sequencer or keyboard controller into the current chord notes.

The ring of seven buttons enables playing any chord directly. You don't have to have an external keyboard. When shifted, the same buttons allow you to pick chord types: triads, 7ths, 9ths, and suspensions, etc. The chord sonorities; major, minor, diminished... are based on the chord degree and the key and mode chosen. The eight encoder knobs enable you to vary the sequences, rhythms, positions, range of notes, and more. 

There is an 8x modulation matrix. Three LFOs and two Probability sources can be assigned to most of the parameters of The NDLR or to external MIDI CCs. 

Optionally, chords and chord types can be selected externally by a keyboard or sequencer using Keyboard Control mode. The white keys maps to the 7 chord buttons, the black keys to the 7 chord types. See the specifications below for more details.

We stuffed all this into one box that's easy to use and fun to play. It's an easy choice for anybody who loves making electronic music and wants to tweak knobs on their otherwise silent synthesizers. So please support this Kickstarter project now.

Signs of Life: Here is the first bread board version of The NDLR. 

The NDLR - bread board version 1
The NDLR - bread board version 1

The NDLR in it's Natural Environment:
The hand wired NDLR prototype. Playing up to 8 synths, transposing KB input, and being chord-sequenced while staying in time and key! 

The NDLR - With Friends
The NDLR - With Friends

 Watch Steve give a breakdown of The NDLR functionality.

The User Interface:
The NDLR is easy to use with all options clearly printed on the face plate.    

The NDLR - Face Plate Graphics (as of 9-29-17)
The NDLR - Face Plate Graphics (as of 9-29-17)

 

The NDLR - Main Screen (as of 9-3-17)
The NDLR - Main Screen (as of 9-3-17)


We developed a one-knob-per-value single layer menu system. You can enter menu mode by pressing the Menu button under the screen. Pressing on any of the 8 encoders will choose menus 1-8. Menus 1-4 are for the eight Mod-Matrix slots, one is shown below. Menus 5-8 are: LFOs & Randomizers, MIDI Channels, System Settings 1 & 2. Each menu has 8 options aligning to the encoders for direct input. Most options on the menus can be controlled externally with MIDI CC messages.

The NDLR - Menu System (as of 9-29-17)
The NDLR - Menu System (as of 9-29-17)

The usage flow of The NDLR is quite simple. Press PAD, BASS & MOTIF buttons to start them playing, twist the knobs to tweak the arps, press a chord button to change the chord or chord type. 

NDLR Usage Flow
NDLR Usage Flow

Notes: The user interface photos above are as of 9-29-17, minor changes may be required. The NDLR is USB powered, the USB cable is included. You supply the USB power brick.

The NDLR 1st PCB: Here is the first rev of the PCB, it works flawlessly! We stuffed the through hole components and built up the prototypes.

The NDLR - 1st PCB stuffed
The NDLR - 1st PCB stuffed

 

THANKS for the support of our spouses and friends. It really helped us gain some momentum with this project:

Paul for his help with electrical engineering design and board layout consultation!
Kelly for his help with G-code creation and the use of his CNC mill!
Andy for his vector file tips and clean-up and vinyl printing and cutting!

Shout-out to some of our inspirations:  
Nick and the guys at Sonic State, love your reviews and Sonic Talk!
Dave of Notes and Volts, our original inspiration for this project. 
Paul at PJRC.COM, for a great development platform and libraries.
Cuckoo, lookin' at you through the mirror.
Burg, ollilaboratories' endless synth jams while we work.
Volt Divers and Cult of Volt artists thanks for the fun nights in PDX.
PDX Craigslist, we bought all your synths, and we had to lie about it.

The NDLR Specs…  

Physical Layout:

  • Dims: Size 9.2” x 6.2” x 1.5" (23.2 x 25.5 x 3.7cm)
  • Color LCD Screen 1.8” (128x160) 
  • 8 Rotary Encoders 
  • 7 Chord Buttons 
  • 3 Pause/Play Buttons 
  • 1 Pad / Bass Toggle Button 
  • 1 Shift & 1 Menu Button 
  • 1 Recessed Firmware Update Button (upgrades via USB)   

Physical Input/Output: 

  • 2x MIDI 5-Pin Inputs (A & B) 
  • 1x MIDI 5-Pin Outputs 
  • 1x MIDI USB In/Out + Power   

MIDI-in Options: 

  • Selectable “Transpose-In” MIDI channel - transposes from the key of “C” to the current NDLR key & mode. NDLR passes transposed Note-On/Off events to the same MIDI out channel number. 
  • Selectable “Keyboard Control-In” MIDI channel – translates Note-On messages to play chords. Notes “C” to “B” (white keys) map to chord degrees I-VII. Optionally black keys can choose the chord type (triad, 5th, 6th, 7th, 9th sus2, & sus4). Sonority is automatic based on key & mode. 
  • Selectable “MIDI CC-In” MIDI channel – enables setting CC values (0-127) for most controls and features of The NDLR.
  • Selectable MIDI-through for unused MIDI-out channels from MIDI-in A & B. “Transpose-In” & “Keyboard Control-In” MIDI channels can be from any MIDI-in port (USB/5pin).  

MIDI-out Options: 

  • Selectable Drone MIDI-out channel (Off, Pad, 1-16). Pad choice means same as Pad channel. 
  • Selectable Pad MIDI-out channel (1-16). Polychains play on next successive MIDI-out channel(s). Example: Pad MIDI-out ch = 4. Polychain = 1 – all pad notes on ch 4. Polychain = 2 – every two notes plays on channels 4/5. Polychain = 4 – every 4 notes plays on channels 4/5/6/7. If you are playing 6 notes with Polychain = 2, note1->ch4, note2->ch5, note3->ch4, note4->ch5, note5->ch4, etc. 
  • Selectable Bass MIDI-out channel (1-16). 
  • Selectable Motif MIDI-out channel (1-16).  

Arpeggio / Note Options: 

  • Drone – none, root note of current chord. Changes with chord play.
  • Pad – (Note) Position and (Note) Range (notes derived from chord degree, chord type, key, & mode). Scrolling the position will invert chords automatically. Both adjustments will toggle notes on and off, useful for awesome soundscapes. Up to 50 notes of poly!
  • Bass – 20 (Note) Patterns, predefined chord-note sequences, 6 (Arp) Variants (Fwd, Bkwd, PingPong, PingPong (1st & last repeat), Odd/Even, Random), Position, Clock Division (whole note, ½ note, ¼ note, 1/8 note, 1/16note, 1/32 note).
  • Motif – 40 (Note) Patterns, 6 (Arp) Variants, 34 (Time) Rhythms – predefined note value sequences, 10 (Octave) Positions, 8 (Velocity) Accents – ¼ note upbeat, ¼ note downbeat, 5x 1/8 note variations…, (Arp) Length, 8 (Time) Offset – 1/8 note offsets from downbeat, and Clock Division (whole note, ½ note, ¼ note, 1/8 note, 1/16note, 1/32 note).  
  • The modes include all 7 standard modes plus: Harmonic, Pentatonic, & Hungarian minors, WholeTone and tonic 2,3,4,6 (movable chord centers). This is not a complete list we are still considering others. Feel free to let us know what you'd like to see.

Menu Options: (see image for all options) 

  • Pad, Bass, Motif velocities (0-127).   

Preset Save/Load Support: 

  • 7 slots, saves system settings and many performance parameters (details TBD).   

Modulation: (work in progress) 

  • 5 Sources: 3 LFOs – Rate (0.1 – 20Hz free running, 4 bars - 1/8 note sync), Wave Shape (Sin, Tri, Sqr, Pulse, S&H) and 2 Probability. 
  • Destinations: most all parameters + selectable MIDI-out channel for 127 CC’s (0-127 values) 
  • 8 slot mod matrix - Src, Dest, Amount, and Offset. 

MIDI CC control:

  • Most all parameters will be CC addressable.

Clock (sync): 

  • Internal clock (10-300 BPM), 24 ticks/beat.
  • External clock-in on MIDI-in A, B or USB.

Risks and challenges

There are always risks in manufacturing electronics in volume.

The photos above are of the most recent versions. We have plans for some changes to the prototype board, for instance moving the CPU to the main board. The face plate is currently 1/8" plexi-glass, with plans for silk screening: black background with 3 color text and graphic treatments. We have only made vinyl printed versions so far.

Even though we have over 50 years combined experience in the electronics industry, this is our first time sending our own product through the manufacturing process without the backing of a giant chip manufacturing company. This is the first musical instrument device we have produced. We are confident that our experienced team of consultants will help us catch any issues.

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    The NDLR twin pack

    Use two NDLRs to play together and control up to 15 synths at the same time!
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    The NDLR 10 pack

    10 NDLRs - Wow, a NDLR party, BYOB!

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Funding period

- (37 days)