Tag Archives: MIDI keyboard

Making music with the open source Kyub

The Kyub is a Maker friendly, open source MIDI keyboard kit that can be easily assembled by just about anyone.

“Capacitive sensing gives the Kyub extremely sensitive action, [while] an internal accelerometer allows the volume of each note to be precisely controlled for versatile musical expression,” a Kyub rep explained in a recent Kickstarter post.

“You can attach multiple Kyubs to a computer synthesizer or digital audio workstation for solo play, jamming with friends, or composition.”

Key Kyub features include:

  • One Teensy 2.0 AVR-based board (ATmega32u4 MCU) with native USB MIDI support.
  • 11 fully programmable feather touch keypads on five surfaces of a 3-inch wooden cube.
  • Three-axis 3G accelerometer controls note volume, after touch or pitch bending.
  • Three open source programs for immediate experimentation and playing.
  • Compatible with most software synthesizers, including Propellerhead Reason.
  • Provides access to hundreds of high quality synthesized instruments.
  • Easy to assemble laser cut wood housing accepts a variety of finishes.

So, how does the Kyub work?

Well, the internal circuitry monitors each of the keypads to immediately detect even the lightest finger touch reflected in a capacitive disturbance. 

Meanwhile, acceleration of the Kyub housing associated with a finger touch is converted to a note loudness, which, together with a pitch determined by the keypad, is transmitted over a USB cable in standard MIDI format. It should also be noted that the Kyub offers low latency (on the order of 3 ms), providing a highly responsive musical experience.

On the software side, Kyub can be easily modified in various ways, including changing the notes assigned to each pad, altering the MIDI channel, changing chords assigned to the chord pads, moving notes to make them easy to play, swapping an instrument from guitar to klaxon and playing almost any chord progression.

“We give you super-documented source code using the popular Arduino programming environment (simple C personalized for the Teensy) that will let you set the scale, tweak the note velocity curves, even map different instruments to different pads (say, drums and fife) to get exactly the musical experience you’re looking for,” added the Kyub rep.

“[Plus], our hyper commented source code should give you the tools you need to completely change the Kyub DNA. Make a loop recorder, a drum machine, an arpeggiator, assign pads to play musical phrases, tap into the accelerometer for after touch, pitch bending, or scale changes, squeeze the final bit of latency out.”

Interested in learning more? You can check out Kyub’s official Kickstarter page here.

Video: Atmel’s ATmega644 powers this Nickelphone

A Maker by the name of Tyler Bletsch has created a keyboard that redefines the notion of “coin-operated.” Yes, the Nickelphone can emit square wave tones via a piezo buzzer, although the 25-key piano is really designed to function as a MIDI keyboard capable of driving a full synthesizer.

According to the HackADay crew, Bletsch selected Atmel’s ATmega644 as the “brain” because it is Arduino-friendly and boasts a total of 32 data pins – allowing him to assign each key its very own pin.

“Each coin was soldered to its own wire and connects up to a 1MΩ resistor array,” explained HackADay’s John Marsh. “Coin-presses are recognized by the simple capacitive sensing technique outlined here, but [Tyler] needed to take advantage of a workaround to accurately detect multiple presses.”

Interested in learning more about Tyler’s ATmega644 -powered Nickelphone? You can check out a detailed project guide and related source code here.