Archive for October, 2009
Here’s a Modular Circuit Bending device I built in the spring of 2007. I wanted to build a MOTM Modular synth after hearing a friend’s System 700 but decided that doing a more circuit bent version could offer me more of the sounds i wanted. This is the first part in a series of units that will all integrate together. This unit consists of a Casio SK-1, SK-5, and a Yamaha VSS-30. All bending points are banana plug with 1/4″ ins and outs. Its about 90% done at the point this photo was taken.
Here’s a short video of the keyboards kinda acting out a little song. I kinda lose control there at the end but for my first attempt i think this is kinda fun. I’ll have some better pics of the building process and final layout soon…
Built in Spring of 2008 by myself and my padre – Don Bwack – for the group Family Force 5 – a seven foot square MPC style midi controller. Weighs in at 750 lbs including intel mac, 22″ screen, 10 knobs, 8 momentary switches, 2 mod/pitch wheels, and 16 led backlit silicon pads.
This is in my garage the night we finished it. Sorry, the frame rate only catches about half of the led hits. This gives a good idea how the pitch wheels work with Ableton…
Here it is with the band Family Force 5 on the Warped Tour Summer of 2008…
When my band went into the studio this past year to record we had the intent of making a very layered recording. For me this meant a lot of drum beats, both played live and programmed via drum machines. We’ve always been into layering, it’s part of our sound, but this time around we went overboard (in a good way – i think). The band started giving me a hard time, that I was coming up with too many beats and that I was working myself into a hole that come tour I would not be able to pull myself out of. Well I told them not to worry, that I was building a robot drummer to help me out and as usual – they just laughed.
Months earlier I had shown Josh Caldwell, an old friend of mine who was a mechanical engineering student, an idea I had for a mechanical drumming device (this was pretty much a few parts from the hardware store thrown together to get the idea across). Well to my own disbelief he called me a few weeks later and told me to meet him for lunch at Health Camp, he had something to show me. I get to lunch and he’s there with a friend of his, Eli Hernandez (another engineer) and a completely redesigned, much improved 3D computer model of the mechanical drumming device. I was so stoked.
Well life got away from us and months later we still hadn’t really messed with anything. Around mid-summer though I started getting nervous about the prospect of touring without any backup beats, so I gave Josh and Eli a call and we got to work (really I should say they got to work). We spent the next two months out at Texas State Technical College building parts, testing, prototyping and just having good old fashion machine fun. I bought a MIDI decoding circuit kit from John at Highly Liquid to convert MIDI to electronic on/off pulses and built it into an old headphone splitter box I had found at a thrift store.
The band was pretty amazed, I must say, when I showed up for tour with Steve in tow. He came strong with the beats even though he can be a bit stiff at times, but you have to admire his resilience. There has been some question as to the name “Steve” and where it comes from. Well thats another story for another time.