2. Jan 14th-20th: More research#
I have a long list of books to read, but I haven’t gotten particularly far with any of them :) They include:
- Zeros and Ones by Sadie Plant
- The Art of Electronics by Horowitz and Hill
- Handmade Electronic Music by Nicolas Collins
- Textile Messages, edited by Leah Buechley
- Getting Started in Electronics by Forrest M Mims III
This week my research diverged into three potential paths. The reason for this is that I started thinking about what my goal is. Is it:
- To try and make a synth using all (or as many as possible) sewn/woven/knit components, along the lines of the [Embroidered Computer](http://www.ireneposch.net/the-embroidered-computer/?
- To make something with all soft interfaces, where all the sound synthesis / computation is contained in a small microcontroller / microprocessor? After all, even regular clothing has zips, buttons, and other hard parts.
- Or something in between?
Path 1: A completely soft synth#
It would be cool to make a synthesizer that is all soft components, but there are some insurmountable challenges to achieving that within three months:
- Batteries are not soft. I could look making a solar powered synth, I guess
- It’s really hard to make oscillator circuits without transistors, and soft transistors aren’t a thing yet
- You can make a relay instead of an oscillator, which can be done with flipdots. But doing this fast enough to make a speaker vibrate within the range of human hearing - that might be very tricky
- Speakers can be soft, but all amplifier circuits you need to drive a speaker…include transistors
Path 2: A synth that uses Arduino or Raspberry Pi#
I did a bit of research into digital / virtual synths, and applications that can replicate the sounds you can get from an analog synthesizer. I found out about Supercollider, a live coding application, and then remembered that Sonic Pi exists - a live coding app for Raspberry Pi. As I have a Raspberry Pi Zero, I wondered if I could write a synth script for Sonic Pi that would be controlled by soft potentiometers, connected to the Pi’s GPIO pins.
I have a lot less experience with Raspberry Pi than with Arduino, but this could be a good opportunity to learn!
This is a particularly nice Raspberry Pi synth:
I could also use Arduino / Teensy Audio Library, like this:
Path 3: Somewhere in between#
I could also make an Atari Punk Console / NAND gate synth + sequencer that are mostly, but not entirely, soft components. E.g. etching a soft pcb on copper fabric, and soldering an IC socket to that.
(Future Jessica’s note: this is the path I eventually chose)