Cheap Monome built from a toy and and arduino – bliptronome

I’ve watched the monome videos for quite a while now, and I’ve really enjoyed them. I love how the unlabeled device looks so useful in someone else’s hands, but I know it’s really tough to learn. I have wanted one for a bit, but the makers (who seem awesome) only release small runs every once in a while, and they are generally highly (~$500) priced as well.

I saw a few links saying that you could build your own from an arduino and a bunch of gear, and that really got me interested. Over here at flipmu they have a full shopping list for building an arduino based monome clone that is called an “arduinome”, but it still looks like it comes out to almost $300 with shipping AND it is still very much a kit.

More recently I saw that some people had hacked their $40 bliptronic-5000s into arduinomes and that really piqued my interest. The hack basically uses the shift registers, buttons and leds of the bliptronic, and swaps in an arduino as the brains of the operation. The hardware is nowhere near as nice as the actual monome is, but it is approachable financially, and it’ll be useful for other things once it is connected to the arduino regardless.

The bliptronic-5000 is a cool little musical instrument that thinkgeek desiged. It is a step based sequencer, which means you have an 8 key keyboard and 8 “frames” in which you can play music before it loops. Before you start it you can press any of the buttons and it will light up, when it is that “frame” or “columns” turn, then the note represented by that button will sound. Once you start playing it will cycle from left to right and then loop again. None of that really matters. It is a cool toy in its original state, but once you add an arduino to it, things really get interesting…

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I bought one over break and immediately hacked into it. I’ve got a quick and dirty test completed right now, I’ll get some pics up in a bit, and then I’m going to build it out into a more featured project in the next bit.

Oh yeah, I also have to learn ableton, and then how to play the dang thing!

The short story is that this “bliptronome” is a dirt cheap way to build a monome clone and a fun way to enable functionality on cheap consumer hardware.

More to come!

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