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LittleBits Kit - You Snap Together A Modular Synth

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Korg & electronic gadget kit company littleBits have announced a modular Synth Kit that’s designed to let you do music DIY using prebuilt modules.

Here’s what they have to say about it:

"LittleBits and Korg have taken a traditional analog synthesizer and converted into littleBits modules, making it super easy for novices and experts alike to expand creativity into the world of sound and music. With the Synth Kit, YOU become the star of the show!"

LittleBits already makes “an open source library of electronic modules that snap together with magnets for prototyping, learning and fun”. Existing modules include things like motors, buzzers, buttons, light sensors, switches and LEDs.

The Synth Kit introduces new modules that expand the platform into audio.

Here’s an unofficial demo:

The kit offers a variety of synth modules:

• Power

• Oscillator

• Random

• Keyboard

• Micro Sequencer

• Envelope

• Filter (MS-20 style)

• Delay

• Mix

• Split

• Synth Speaker

Accessories:

• battery + cable

•35+ pg. booklet

LittleBits Audio Demo:

https://soundcloud.com/littlebits-electronics/sequence-with-beat/s-87llZ

LittleBits Synth Kit Q&A:

Q: Can the littleBits Synth Kit be expanded by buying additional oscillators or other modules?

A: Yes. Individual modules from the Synth Kit will be available January 2014.

Q: Does the Synth Kit work with the full family of existing modules?

A: Yes. The Synth Kit is compatible with their other modules, including the Pressure Sensor, the Light Kit and the Deluxe Kit.

Q: Can you tell us more about the open source aspect of the littleBits platform? Is it possible to create custom modules that are compatible with the littleBits Synth Kit?

A: All modules have schematic and PCB files available in Eagle CAD. Users can create their own module, but the connectors will not be available individually until 2014.

“A prototyping module will hopefully be available in the coming months,” notes Rothman. “We are in the process of creating guidelines for those who want to develop for the littleBits system.”

Q: Can you tell us anything about the circuits that the Synth Kit is based on?

A: The filter module is based on the later MS-20 circuit and the delay module uses the same echo processor used in the Monotron Delay.

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Q: Are these modules electrically compatible with other analog synthesizers? For example, could one patch this to an existing synthesizer or modular synthesizer?

A: The voltage levels are different, so adapters need to be used.

“LittleBits runs on a 0-5V power system,” notes Rothman. “For the launch concert we put on, Nullsleep performed with his Cirklon that he usually uses with his Eurorack modular. We made some adapter boards to divide down the voltage for him, for this purpose. We’ll be putting out a proper module for this some time in the future.”

Pricing and Availability:

The littleBits Synth Kit is priced at $159. It’s available for pre-order now and is expected to start shipping Dec 6th. See the LittleBits site for details.

Source: littlebits.cc, synthtopia.com

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Controlling LittleBits Synth Kit With MIDI

Masaki Higuchi is experimenting with using MIDI to control the littleBits Synth Kit.

Higuchi uses the Synth Kit to play back a MIDI file of Jean-Jacques Perrey and Gershon Kingsley’s Baroque Hoedown, well known for its use in Disney’s Main Street Electrical Parade.

Here is the approach that Higuchi used:

"I tried to find a way to send MIDI melody note data. I confirmed the magnet connector specification to connect my MacBook and littleBits.

The connector had three pins. The centered pin seemed for voltage-controlled (0-5V) and the others is for power(5V).The centered pin seemed available for MIDI playing.

Incidentally, KORG MS-20 was revived as new synthesizer, “MS-20 mini” at last year. The original and the revived mini have an output terminal to send keyboard notes as control voltage. And USB was added to the revived mini…It means MS-20 mini is available to send the melody from my MacBook to littleBits.

At last, I succeeded to connect MS-20 mini to littleBits via special hand-made cable."

Essentially, the Korg MS-20 Mini is being used as a USB to CV converter.

Since littleBits has open sourced the Synth Kit designs, it would be interesting to see someone create a compatible MIDI to CV module. Note that, while littleBits has open sourced the circuit designs, their logos, the physical look of the modules and, importantly, the design of their magnetic connectors, are proprietary.

Source: synthtopia.com

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Korg + littleBits Announce Three New Synth Modules

littleBits has announced three new ‘power user’ modules for users of its Korg Synth Kit and other modules.

The modules add direct support for MIDI, control voltages & USB audio:

MIDI module - Allows you to control the Synth Kit from a DAW (Ableton Live, Pro Tools, etc) and other MIDI-enabled instruments. Additionally, it will allow you to create your own MIDI controller with littleBits modules by converting littleBits control voltages to MIDI messages.

CV module - Allows you to Integrate your Synth Kit with other analog synthesizers (for example, modular synths or analog keyboards).

USB I/O module – This is a USB audio interface that will enable you to record directly into your DAW from the Synth Kit or send audio from your DAW to the Synth Kit for processing. Integrate your Synth Kit with common audio work stations (Ableton, ProTools, or other software like Traktor or Max/MSP).

Pricing and release dates for these modules is still to be announced, but littleBits says that they will be available by ‘Holiday 2014′.

Source: synthtopia.com

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MIDIbit Brings USB & DIN MIDI To The littleBits Synth Kit

USBtribe has introduced the MIDIbit – A USB and DIN MIDI i/o interface for the littleBits Korg Synth Kit.

Here’s what they have to say about the video demo:

"A demonstration of the MIDIbit’s outputs. First we connect to the ‘Note’ output and playback a sequence from Ableton. Then we add ‘Velocity’ control and modulate the Filter bit cutoff. Next we use the ‘Mod Whl’ (Modulation Wheel) output to automate the Filter bit cutoff, whilst triggering the Envelope bit from the ‘Gate’ output.

To finish up, we connect a Sequencer bit to another Oscillator bit and a Delay bit and use the ‘Clock’ output to drive the Sequencer bit, stepping it in sync with the computer sequencer."

Pricing and availability are to be announced, USBtribe says it’s ‘available soon’.

Source: synthtopia.com

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littleBits New cloudBit Lets You Connect Your Modular Synth To The Internet

littleBits Electronics has introduced a new module, the cloudBit, that will let you connect your modular synth to the Internet and more.

The cloudBit, according to the company, will help democratize the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) – the idea that ‘smart devices’ will be able to communicate and interact with the Internet.

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The cloudBit – part of the company’s littleBits modular electronics system – lets you turn any object into an Internet-connected device. littleBits already makes an open source library of electronic modules that snap together with magnets. Existing modules include things like motors, buzzers, buttons, light sensors, switches and LEDs. Last year, they added modules that expanded the platform into audio with the Korg littleBits Synth Kit.

Here’s a demo of the cloudBit in action:

The cloudBit can engage in three types of interactions:

• Bits to Web (SMS doorbell)

• Web to Bits (controlling something remotely, as in their automatic fish-feeder example in the video)

• Bits to Bits (like the cloud-controlled camera)

These interactions could be applied to musical purposes, also. For example, in the area of sonification, creating geographically distributed musical installations, Internet-based synth control or even creating new types of audience interaction.

littleBits has also partnered with IFTTT.com (short for “if this, then that”) to integrate littleBits inventions with existing web services like Instagram (check out the whimsical Insta-ego-head tutorial), Facebook, Twitter, Google Drive, etc.

Pricing and Availability:

The littleBits cloudBit is available today for $59. A “Cloud Starter Bundle” consisting of six electronic modules, two “accessories” to connect to the Internet, and tutorials, is available for $99. Both via the littleBits website.

Source: synthtopia.com

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