Highly Liquid user profile: Pastel Fractal

Chicago-based artist Alexander DeGraaf employs several UMR2 and MSA-T boards for his ongoing project Pastel Fractal. Alex uses MIDI control for robotics and live audience participation in addition to more traditional sequencing and synthesis functions.


Alex writes:

I have three sampling keyboards into which I have installed UMRs: two Yamaha VSS-30s and one Casio SK-8.  I use different samples on the keyboards for different compositions such as: my singing voice, a dog bark (sampled from SK-5), a TR-808 clap, a Doc Watson banjo riff, a Chet Atkins guitar riff, and some scatting sounds.

In my installation sculptures, I’ve used as many as two MSA-T MIDI Decoders to turn my MIDI note messages into voltage pulses for as many as fourteen small 24V solenoid motors. I’ve engineered these motors to reset immediately after being triggered, and I’ve connected them in various ways to percussive elements within the sculptures. In this way, I am able to MIDI-sequence robotic percussion strikes and sounds in sync with my compositions that are otherwise played by more conventional MIDI sound engines such as synthesizers, keyboards, and drum machines. The robotic percussive elements within the sculpture each provide a unique source from which sounds stimulate the inhabitant of the sculpture. I provide additional sound sources – besides robotic percussions and the main P.A. – by attaching small speakers to individual keyboards and drum machines so they may be hung around the sculpture or handed out to the inhabitants to pass and move about. Thus, inhabitants of the sculpture – also known as members of the audience – can contribute to the composition during a performance with these floating pieces of hardware by engaging buttons or keys within their reach.

More from Pastel Fractal can be found at Vimeo, Soundcloud, and Facebook.

Tim Laursen’s Robot Drum Creation

Tim Laursen combined a power supply, drum machine, mixer, MSA-R MIDI decoder, Darlington drivers, and a collection of individually miked, solenoid-actuated drums.  The result is “Double Rainbow”, a complete mobile robot drum system.

Some technical details can be found in this forum thread.  Tim’s work also appears in this video from Sequence of Waves.

2010 Maker Faire Detroit

Several “makers” at the recent Maker Faire Detroit demonstrated projects that incorporate Highly Liquid MIDI decoders.  For more photos, see the new Highly Liquid Photostream at Flickr.

Chip Flynn (Apetechnology) brought several robots, including an MSA-R controlled string instrument (background left):

Dana Dolfi demonstrated the MSA-T controlled Great American Horn Machine:

Dave Kadlitz performed with his MSA-R & MSA-T controlled mechanical drum machine, the “Waits-o-Matic 9000″:

Michael Una performed with an MD24-synced DIY sequencer:

Robot Drummer: “Spruce Deuce”

Steve Averill‘s robot drummer first appeared in this blog as a pair of disembodied plywood forearms.

The “Spruce Deuce” has since become a sophisticated android drummer brought to life by 11 RC servos.  Servo control signals are generated by a single MD24 MIDI Decoder:

Compare to Steve3PO, an MSA-T driven MIDI robot drummer.

Other MD24-based MIDI percussion projects are underway and are being discussed at the Highly Liquid Forums.  Have you joined the forums yet?

User Project Roundup, Part 9

Steve, a robot drummer based on the MSA-T MIDI decoder, built by Texas Central Positronics.

Video here, here, and here:

Komega‘s MD24-based Musifore MIDI visualizer:

MIDISpeak / Speak & Spell controlled by Ableton Live.  Video here and here:

A Yamaha CS01 with an installed CS01-MIDI kit, controlled by an x0xb0x:

The latest suitcase SK-1 from The Umbrella Company, with installed UMR for MIDI control:


User Project Roundup, Part 5

Steve Averill’s robot drummer, using the MD24 for MIDI servo control:

Atari 2600 + MIDI2600 + Synthcart + Ableton Live + Modular Synth demo (SYNCHRO):

Bob Lloyd‘s animatronic Halloween program, which uses MSA-T MIDI decoders for MIDI lighting control:

A MIDI retrofit of the Synare Percussion Synth using the MSA-P (the simulacre):

A vintage Ace Tone Rhythm Ace drum machine, MIDI retrofitted by Kerry Bradley using a MIDI2600 kit (Note: the new MD24 is a better choice for this type of project):

MD24: 24-Output MIDI Decoder with Servo Control

The new MD24 MIDI decoder accepts MIDI input from a keyboard, sequencer, or other MIDI controller and in response generates up to 24 independent output signals.

Each output can provide either a general-purpose on/off trigger or a PWM servo control signal.

Features include:

  • 24 x Independent 5V digital logic output
  • Control via MIDI note, CC, program change, and other messages
  • User-configurable MIDI response and PWM signal characteristics
  • Compatibility with RC servos
  • Standard MIDI IN and MIDI THRU ports
  • PCB-mount MIDI connectors or optional remote connectors
  • Output solder terminals with optional solderless terminal blocks
  • Standard 26-pin output header for connection via ribbon cable

The MD24 is available either as a kit or fully assembled.  PDF documentation is available at the product page.

MD24 MIDI Decoder

MD24 MIDI Decoder