Funded! This project was successfully funded on September 9, 2012.

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Invent the sounds of the future! Create your own astounding electronic instruments with lego-like hexes & physical sensors.

Kickstarter is over, but you can still get info and BUY from the Molecule Synth Website!!

Order NOW
Order NOW

REVIEWS:

BoingBoing: "...Molecule Synth looks like terrific mix of [neat noisemakers, games, water sensors]! ...I can't wait for my son and I to get our hands on a set!"

MakeZine Blog: "[Molecule Synth is] a cool synthesizer that can be pieced together, Lego-like, from a series of hexagonal modules that feature different effects"

Coolhunting.com: "Resembling more of a genius child's wind-up toy than a musical instrument...Molecule Synth combines rearrangeable hexagonal pieces to create an unconventional version of the traditional keyboard synthesizer."

Gadgetronica.com: "From now on, not only are your compositions your brainchild but the instrument on which it was created will be too! Thanks to...the Molecule Synth."

WHAT IS THE MOLECULE SYNTH? 

The MOLECULE SYNTH is a unique, utterly new kind of musical instrument. It offers the elemental components of a traditional keyboard synthesizer — a speaker & amp, a sound generator, and a pitch controller — but presents those elements as pieces that you arrange (and rearrange!) in various combinations to create your own musical device. The MOLECULE SYNTH is designed to be intuitive to use: each of its hexagonal pieces is color-coded to indicate what that piece is and does, and each piece is marked to show how it connects to other pieces. With these building blocks, you choose how to configure your instrument, and, later, you can move the pieces and configure an entirely new instrument!

<<  LEGO-LIKE INTERCHANGEABILITY  

                                       +SYNTHESIZERS 

                                                 +PHYSICAL ELECTRONICS  

                                                                 =  MOLECULE SYNTH!!!        >>

Molecule Synth
Molecule Synth

“I must Create a System or be enslav'd by another Man's” -William Blake

I was inspired to create the MOLECULE SYNTH by experiences circuit bending toys and building my own electronic instruments, and I wanted to make something with sounds that were more wild and less predictable than what comes from traditional keyboards. I wanted an instrument that was more interesting than just pushing buttons, but I also wanted to get away from the “black box” pre-fab technologies that makes us all passive “consumers” using someone else’s designs. So I made the MOLECULE SYNTH to be an open ended, hardware-based, stand-alone musical instrument that is easy to hack & modify, that is DIY to the core, that totally rocks, sounds amazing, and is guaranteed super fun to play!

The MOLECULE SYNTH has the pitch-accurate musical capabilities of any old random store-bought keyboard, but with the MOLECULE SYNTH, you can see and change the way that the instrument works. You can plug in a MIDI keyboard to control the MOLECULE SYNTH, or you can use the physical controllers for more experimental sounds.

Using the MOLECULE SYNTH is fun and easy! The MOLECULE SYNTH ships with a complete set of directions and tips for use, but, thanks to the MOLECULE SYNTH’s color-coded pieces and intuitive design, practically ANYONE can figure out what to do without reading anything. 

Here’s how it works: Take a RED giant-sized hex, connect it to a YELLOW hex; now connect a PURPLE hex to the YELLOW hex. That’s it. You have just created a new MOLECULE synthesizer! But hold on, maybe you want a different PURPLE? Try it -- grab a different PURPLE and connect to the YELLOW.  Now you've made a different MOLECULE synthesizer!   

  • We spent lots of time putting sound samples in our Kickstarter video that demonstrate what the MOLECULE SYNTH can do. The entire video was made with the MOLECULE SYNTH, a Korg Kaossilator and a vocoder.  The video is a good source for getting an idea of how the MOLECULE SYNTH will sound, and what sorts of synths you might create with it.

  • HAVE MORE QUESTIONS?  PLEASE SEE FAQs BELOW, AND CHECK OUT OUR WEBSITE, WWW.MOLECULESYNTH.COM FOR MORE PICTURES AND INFO. 

>>>>>REWARDS!<<<<< 

1. MOLECULE CHEER. For a donation of $5 to $39, you will receive our undying gratitude for helping the project get going, and have your name immortalized in the online Sound Lab, moleculesynth.com, special list of supporters.

2. MOLECULE CATALYST. For a donation of $40 to $74, you’ll receive a Limited Edition MOLECULE SYNTH T-Shirt with your choice of one of our two designs featured below, "Hex Perception" and “Let’s Get Physical.” We use American Apparel shirts, and you can specify size, color and M/F style with your order. 

3. MOLECULE SCIENTIST. For a donation of $75 to $249, you’ll receive both of our Limited Edition MOLECULE SYNTH T-Shirts (or two of one design, if you like).

T-Shirt Design#1: "Hex Perception"
T-Shirt Design#1: "Hex Perception"
T-Shirt Design#2: "Let's Get Physical"
T-Shirt Design#2: "Let's Get Physical"
4. ISOMER MOLECULE SYNTH SET. For a donation of $250 to $299, you receive the eight-piece MOLECULE SYNTH, a detailed “Owner’s Guide & Molecular Sound Lab Manual,” a packet of Sugru, and an attractively designed box that stores and transports everything and can be turned over for an awesome tabletop surface on the go!

5. POLYMER MOLECULE SYNTH SET. For a donation of $300 and up, you receive the nine-piece MOLECULE SYNTH, which includes everything in the ISOMER SET plus the MIDI-Input hex. Also comes with “Owner’s Guide & Molecular Sound Lab Manual,” a packet of Sugru, and a box of awesome.

6. MOLECULE BUNDLE. For a donation of $1,100 and up, you or your institution can be among the first on the block to have FOUR COMPLETE POLYMER MOLECULE SYNTH SETS, which means having more of the best new technology/electronics learning tool around and the most fun new musical instrument since the kazoo. The four sets can be used individually or combined into one enormous MOLECULE -- totally radical!


<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

OK, BUT IS THE MOLECULE SYNTH FOR ME?...   

YES! The MOLECULE SYNTH is for all musicians, kids, artists, makers, educators, designers, and ANYONE ELSE who enjoys experimenting and discovery!  

You don’t need any technical knowledge whatsoever to enjoy improvising and exploring the possibilities of the MOLECULE SYNTH. In demonstrations of the MOLECULE SYNTH at ADX-Portland’s Open House, and at the June 28, 2012 Dorkbot-Portland Backspace Meetup, I watched as an incredible variety of people, ages 6 to 86, had their own fun playing with it.  KIDS LOVE IT! -- it is designed and hand assembled to be a high quality musical instrument, with excellent sounding audio input and output that can be easily and reliably interfaced with other musical devices, but it is also a toy and is a freaking blast to tinker with, variable and crazy enough for the mad music scientist and beat chemist in everyone.

MOLECULE SYNTH PROTOTYPE PCBs
MOLECULE SYNTH PROTOTYPE PCBs
5 Elements of Molecular Synthesis
5 Elements of Molecular Synthesis
Table of Elements (showing hexes available now & coming soon!)
Table of Elements (showing hexes available now & coming soon!)
Speaker/Amp/Mixer
Speaker/Amp/Mixer
This was our prototype mixer, now it is included on the Spkr/Amp hex
This was our prototype mixer, now it is included on the Spkr/Amp hex
Sound Generator - Digital - 556 Timer
Sound Generator - Digital - 556 Timer
Sound Generator - Analog - 1458 Op Amp
Sound Generator - Analog - 1458 Op Amp
Sound Generator - Digital - 2LFOs (40106) -- these are primarily for Control Voltage w other Sound Generators, but they can be used for drum-like beats and pulses, too.
Sound Generator - Digital - 2LFOs (40106) -- these are primarily for Control Voltage w other Sound Generators, but they can be used for drum-like beats and pulses, too.
Flex Sensor - one of the most fun ways to control pitch and timbre!  why aren't these on all synths? I dunno, but with the MOLECULE SYNTH we're trying to correct that oversight!
Flex Sensor - one of the most fun ways to control pitch and timbre! why aren't these on all synths? I dunno, but with the MOLECULE SYNTH we're trying to correct that oversight!
Photo Sensor (pictured with a contact sensor that is not included -- the contact sensor will be included in later hexes)
Photo Sensor (pictured with a contact sensor that is not included -- the contact sensor will be included in later hexes)
Pressure Sensor (coupled with a turn knob the physical variance of pressure allows for some really pleasant sound control accents -- pulses, bends, squeaks, taps, and so on)
Pressure Sensor (coupled with a turn knob the physical variance of pressure allows for some really pleasant sound control accents -- pulses, bends, squeaks, taps, and so on)
Joystick - whheeeeeeee!  Note: this can control two inputs simultaneously!
Joystick - whheeeeeeee! Note: this can control two inputs simultaneously!
MIDI-Input
MIDI-Input

FAQ

  • We need your support to make the MOLECULE SYNTH widely available. The joining of physical electronics and electronic music means new instruments and forms of expression await, and the MOLECULE SYNTH has already begun exploring those frontiers. But now we need to raise enough funds to make larger-quantity orders of the MOLECULE PCBs and components. Quantity orders will help us make the MOLECULE SYNTH more affordable, develop and test new designs, and distribute it to the world -- that means more blinky LEDs, more interactive designs, and more uncanny electronic sound creations for everyone!

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  • Except for the MIDI-Input, the MOLECULE SYNTH is a standalone hardware-based device that does not require any outside computers or outside devices. For the MIDI-Input you need an Arduino Uno (R2 or R3). This Arduino will need to be programmed -- our website will be an easy source for detailed instructions, code, and tips for doing this, though there are other sites that also have usable code.

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  • The MOLECULE SYNTH’s design and sounds are unique, yet it stands firmly upon the shoulders of http://opensource.org/docs/osd community giants, such famous, brilliant, and well-tested analog and digital electronic circuit designs as http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atari_Punk_Console, http://makezine.com/'s http://makezine.com/09/crackerboxamp/,http://narbotic.com/projects/midivox/, http://www.beavisaudio.com/Projects/CMOS_Synthesizers/, and others. It was born of http://www.kickstarter.com/blog/diy-manufacturing culture and it stands opposite to the "black box" technologies of many synthesizers and consumer electronics. MOLECULE was designed to be seen, all the way down to its resistors, caps, and transistors. It is resolutely open source, and after the Kickstarter is complete we will have a website with a community wiki forum for sharing Eagle CAD designs, notes, schematics, hacks, new ideas, mods, Arduino synth program variants, and so on.

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  • Yes, the MOLECULE SYNTH has gone through three phases of prototyping in the last seven months, from breadboard and perfboard models on into its present state of homemade circuit boards and those shining, beautiful and bomb-proof purple PCBs fromhttps://twitter.com/laen's http://oshpark.com/. Laen's excellent, domestic made PCBs have set the high quality standards that we will follow for all of the PCBs and builds in the Kickstarter orders. Please note also, that some of the designs of our prototypes are different from the Kickstarter model (e.g., the Speaker/Amp is separate from the Mixer, which we have since combined into one unit), and some of the hexes in the video are on homemade PCBs (these sometimes look quite nice, with their brilliant copper plating, but it isn’t possible to do a production run with them).

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  • The MOLECULE hexes connect to one another using "snap" 9-volt battery terminals. These make simple, strong connections for electrical and audio signal paths that are sturdy, durable and easy to connect. Once connected, a small MOLECULE can be moved around by hand, though a table or flat surface (such as the box that the MOLECULE SYNTH comes in) is best, especially for larger MOLECULES.

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  • For Canada, please add US$5 for T-Shirts, US$15 for Synth Sets. For the rest of the world please add US$10 for T-Shirts, US$40 for Synth Sets. Please email for details about International Shipping for MOLECULE BUNDLE.

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  • Yes, two of the Sound Generators have CV inputs, and the MOLECULE SYNTH ships with an LFO that is meant for CV applications. The LFO (40106) Hex has 2 Square Wave Low Frequency Oscillators (LFOs) -- each of these LFOs can be used for control voltage. Our design of the LFO (40106) includes two synchronized LEDs that pulse with the oscillators so you can see what the voltage is doing.

    Because the LFO 40106 hex generates Square Waves it makes a great staccato- almost drum-like pulsing signal control. Here are a couple short recordings of that:

    http://soundcloud.com/travis1138/molecule-556-and-741 http://soundcloud.com/travis1138/molecule-mix-of-556-2-vcos-and The CV routing through both the Digital 556 Timer hex and Analog 1458 Op Amp hex is sturdy. It will handle up to around 5 Volts, which makes it compatible with most other synthesizers. I have connected it to my Moog and the CV out lines from Mooger-Fooger pedals -- I use banana clips to the MOLECULE SYNTH hex connections, and it works great!

    Also,the LFO 40106 hex is labelled a "Sound Generator" rather than CV because you can make some creative uses of CV by interchanging with Audio lines -- it makes for a fun experiment, just try it! Many people won't know what is meant by Control Voltage, so, since Audio _can_ be interchanged with CV, and since CV seems a little exotic to some, we didn't say much about it in the video.

    The MOLECULE SYNTH is built to be a high quality, performance-ready modular synth, ready to be used and modified in any number of creative ways!

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    MOLECULE CHEER - Donate $5 or more to have your name immortalized on our website Sound Laboratory as a backer of the project. "Go, MOLECULE, Go!!"

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    MOLECULE LAB BOOK - choose one of five cover designs for a 3"X5" 32pp dot grid paper notebook perfect for sketching or remembering new ideas for Molecule Synth designs!! See Update#8 for pictures of available designs.

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    MOLECULE CATALYST - Help the us grow and get an awesome T-Shirt! Also, your name will be immortalized on our website Sound Laboratory as a backer of the project. We have American Apparel shirts available in two designs -- please designate Design#1 or Design#2, size, and M/F style. See FAQ for information on International Shipping.

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    MOLECULE SCIENTIST - Feeling powerful Elective Affinities with the style and science of the MOLECULE SYNTH? We certainly hope so! Pledge $75 or more and you receive two of our Limited Edition T-Shirts -- choose Designs #1 or #2, and sizes and styles with your order. Also, your name will included in the Sound Laboratory Scientists' list of backers.

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    ISOMER MOLECULE SYNTH - This eight-piece set ships with an Owner's Guide to Molecular Synthesis and a pack of Sugru, all in an attractively designed box that protects and doubles as a table-top surface. See FAQs for International Shipping.

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    POLYMER MOLECULE SYNTH SET. This nine-piece set includes the complete ISOMER MOLECULE SYNTH SET plus a MIDI-Input. Please note: Arduino Uno is not included. See FAQs for more technical details concerning Arduino, and for information about International Shipping.

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    MOLECULE BUNDLE - four complete POLYMER MOLECULE SETS.

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