Getting to Work: June – July 2014

June 16. I’ve officially decided on an idea: I will make an Arduino-controlled step sequencer, a device that uses sequences of notes to create melodies in perfect time.

So… why a step-sequencer? Check this out. I stumbled upon this site back in May and fell in love with the concept: lots of little buttons that, when pressed, cause beautiful music to play no matter what. What a great way to get people into music-making. No learning curve; instant and consistent fun; great music made every time.

I want to make these buttons physical and fun to press. I also want to choose a sound that isn’t tiring, that’s relaxing but won’t but you to sleep. So.. where do I start? Urban Reininger and Dave Morgan recommended I look into the Arduino micro controller to power the actual “instrument.” This seemed a little daunting, as I had very little knowledge in programming. Urban offered to teach me some basic Arduino coding and help me through the process. Thanks to him, I was able to get off the ground and make something functional by mid July:

4x4 RGB LED PCB & Button pad from Sparkfun. That's a mouthful.

4×4 RGB LED PCB & Button pad from Sparkfun. That’s a mouthful.

First LED going in!

First LED going in!


It works!

Functional.. but far from finished. Pretty colors are nice and all, but this thing isn’t making music. It has something like 30 wires coming out of it, and I want the sequencer to have 8 times as many buttons. I’m not looking for headaches just getting this thing wired up; 1 out of ~250 wires not working seems very possible and very impossible to fix quickly. We’re gonna have to find a different way to go about this.