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Messages - sam

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Development / Re: MIDI Sprout Enclosure Designs
« on: May 23, 2016, 08:29:44 PM »
Hello Charles, no the Kit and breadboard do not fit into any of the enclosures.  The Shapeways box itself is nice, but please note that it is an experimental unit.  If a user does choose to solder their own circuit board, the LEDs would need to be 'bent' in order to fit between the board and the top of the box (since i use SMD parts on the production model). 

It would be quite possible to modify a cardboard enclosure design to fit the breadboard and battery box, and one would need to add some sort of switch for power.  I hadn't really considered making an enclosure for the breadboard Kit, and it would be great if users could share their potential designs.

I have not made a tutorial for soldering a circuit board from the kit (perhaps i will if i can find a blank sprout circuit board) but I have provided links to the board design and an inexpensive 3 board pack from OSH park.  There is a bit of a jump in circuit dexterity when we get into soldering and allocating components, and I believe all of the needed information is available in the forum.

This device is in itself quite challenging, the user is required to understand MIDI data and be able to connect instruments, the sprout, and plants.  While users of all skill levels can build and use a MIDI Sprout, it takes knowledge and skill to use the tool to its potential.  I think this project is a great jumping off point for an electronics enthusiast, and while it takes a decent amount of effort to make everything work the end result is a powerful data translation system.


Many computer audio interfaces also include a MIDI connection, which can give some additional audio input and output capabilities.  The costs for MIDI to USB devices increases sharply, there are some great models which offer multiple inputs and outputs(think multiple sprouts in!)

For your intended usage, there are a few ways to go:

1.  Program your own MIDI sample playback engine - Using processing.org or other tools including pure data, you can custom configure your own trigger and playback system.  It is easy to encode MIDI data to files or use the multiple channels of MIDI data for elaborate instrumentation.  This is my approach, and I use microcontrollers (arduino), electronic components, and modified consumer electronics in order to create the results I am looking for.  It takes a considerable amount of research, and I teach electronics and physical computing in university with this ethic.

2.  Use every Linux sound and MIDI program available until you find something worthwhile - this is one of the chronic limitations with using Linux, there is a very large user base and development community and this leads to fractured information and disjointed applications.  While it is true that i can write a script to run my audio programs through a Normalizer, Equalizer, and then and MP3 lame encoder, there is something important about the parsimony of a unified application.  I have found that digging deep into Linux does provide great results, but it is a quite elaborate puzzle.  Its almost easier to roll your own program!

3.  and then there is Ardour - this is it, a thick daw with multichannels, routing, vst/au, midi out the wazoo, full digital audio workstation.  I use Ableton Live on osX, if i was on Linux I'd use Ardour.  Ooops i might have accidentally placed a shady(no promises) link to Live and Linux here.

4.  or just do this:   sudo apt-get install lmms rosegarden

You will need to delve into a significant amount of information related to MIDI to control the data but you should be able to record tons of long channels and easily edit (copy/paste) using Ardour.
I don't really specialize in Ubuntu Linux, so I'm sorry that I can't make a more direct recommendation.  I also have been searching for 'easier' midi recording and playback solutions. 

Well hello pelgrim!

To begin with, the MIDI Sprout Tools program is in no way necessary for using the MIDI Sprout.  The Tools is a 'novelty' application which I threw together in PureData (pdExtended), and the Tools make no sound it only modifies the MIDI data.  It can be useful, but there is a learning curve to just setting up PD-extended - that's why the self contained osX patch was easier for some folks.

The MIDI - USB interface you linked from Amazon is (sorry to say it) crap, hence the price.  While the cheap MIDI interfaces 'should' work, their non-compliant wiring can and will impact the sensitivity and 'isolation' which makes the MIDI Sprout work well.  These lower cost units tend to result in ground connection issues.

As a portable MIDI-USB connector I use this MOTU

Once you connect your sprout to your computer using a USB MIDI interface, you are then going to need to use a sound generating program.  At Data Garden, we use Ableton Live which is an advanced music production tool.  On Linux there are a plethera of MIDI related instruments, recorders, digital workstations, but it will take some configuration to route your MIDI data between programs.  A few searches and reads through some Linux blogs is a better resource than I am.  Here are some links from a quick search:

As for MIDI cable lengths, legend has it that MIDI cables once could run hundreds of feet in a single run but the best throws i've gotten today are around 25ft.  There are many MIDI extension solutions. 

Also consider, instead of having a long MIDI cable to your plant, extend your electrodes leads with normal headphones extenders!

I see from your other post, that you want to use a PINE 64 as your sound system.  You will need to make sure that whatever USB-MIDI interface you use works with your specific flavour of Linux and the Pine64!!

Questions / Re: Ubuntu (linux): what software should I use
« on: May 22, 2016, 11:46:01 AM »
I updated the download link (thanks, migrated a server and my links are all messed up)!

You should be able to run pdExtended on Linux ....

Questions / Re: DIY
« on: May 22, 2016, 11:31:00 AM »
It depends on how you would arrange the booster.  If you used the booster to provide a higher rail and then used a vactrol or other method to follow the voltage.  But i think the booster would drain the batteries on the Sprout very quickly.

Questions / Re: Electrodes
« on: May 18, 2016, 03:13:50 PM »
The electrodes and the 'trode leads' are available from tons of sources, usually branded as "Tens Pads".

There is a variation on the size of the 'snaps' and there is also variation of the size of the male jack at the end of the leads, so be careful if you are price shopping online. 

I use the 3.5mm snaps and the 3.5mm jacks, which makes everything nice and standard to use an 1/8" audio jack as the probes input.  I've found that smaller pads will fit into the 'larger' 3.5mm snaps, giving some versatility.

This is a link to an Amazon search showing a nice variety of pads.

Questions / Re: DIY
« on: May 17, 2016, 01:50:18 PM »
If you need to boost the voltage from the built in CV 0-5(ish)V of the Sprout up to a higher level, I suggest using a vactrol (LED and Light dependent resistor) as a variable resistor in a simple voltage divider.  This will let you safely control voltages up to your modular's rails.  Also could try using a transistor (MOSFET) to boost and control the voltage.

Of course, if you need 0-1v for your specific application, an 'attenuverter' (TL084) will cool down that voltage or even swap its polarity.

The amazing peter edwards has some advice on his Casper Electronics site.

Questions / Re: Basic questions from non-musician
« on: May 16, 2016, 09:29:29 PM »
Hello lunachia. The MIDI Sprout does not produce sound on its own, it uses MIDI data to play instruments like synthesizers, drum machines, and keyboards. MIDI Sprout also is not a program that runs on a computer, it is a hardware device which connects plants and translates fluctuations in current (like a lie detector) and plays notes.

While everything here is open source, you will need to learn how to use MIDI in order for the music to 'sound nice'. I am very happy that we are at the point where Biodata Sonification is accessible to biologists, statisticians, and electronic musicians  as well as students and hobbyists. 

It's not easy, to be honest. Devotion comes with rewards, but... Beyond here be dragons, and they are beautiful powerful expressions of data through sound. 



Questions / Re: DIY
« on: May 16, 2016, 09:05:01 PM »
Hey Brian! To be honest, I went through a few different LEDs in the design and ended with 220 ohm as
 I got a great deal on a pile of 220s. We get better diffusion, at the cost of burning some current.

Questions / Re: Assembly
« on: May 12, 2016, 09:17:11 AM »
Hey John, the MIDI Sprouts come fully assembled, all you need to do is put in batteries, attach the trodes and pads to your plant and the Sprout, and plug the MIDI out into a synthesizer (channel 1).

For the Kickstarter project, we offered kits on solderless breadboard and fully assembled units with circuit board and enclosure.

We were only able to manufacture a limited run (believe me when i say that i tried to maximize our resources), and we are now offering the few remaining MIDI Sprouts for sale in the next few weeks.

The absolutely best way to get a MIDI Sprout is to build one yourself!  The electronic parts are readily available, the complexity of the project is fairly medium, and I have shared all of my code for use and modification.  Already people from around the world have reached out to me to discuss their home-made MIDI Sprout.

Updated the board files too!

Hi, I migrated storage to a different server, the links have been updated!

Questions / Re: Github?
« on: May 06, 2016, 12:07:33 PM »
I haven't setup a Git repository for a couple reasons, most being related to my own mediocre file organization and version management.

I am in the process of updating my website Electricity for Progress which presents my educational electronics initiatives, performance art installations, and documentation of projects.  While currently very outdated, once my new format launches I will be integrating additional sharing tools into my workflow including the blog, youtube, and various library repositories.

I will be organizing and expanding the MIDI Sprout code into more complex Biodata Sonification systems, and will post those developments to this Forum!

Questions / Re: How could I use MIDI Sprout to trigger a sample?
« on: April 28, 2016, 07:41:05 PM »
When touching a plant, your body begins to influence the circuit and introduces fluctuations which result in flourishes of notes and changes in pitch.  The MIDI data itself acts as a measurement of the plant's conductivity, with lower conductivity producing 'higher' pitched notes.  Consider, there are only 88 keys on a piano and in order to allow the MIDI Sprout to translate very fine fluctuations, the program will 'roll over' notes once they reach the maximum pitch and start back from the lowest pitch.   This effect can be most easily seen when viewing MIDI data in a 'piano roll' view as the transitions from low to hi and hi to low can be most easily seen.

~///^\\\~     ~\\\V///~

To your question, depending on what software you use with your sprout there are many ways to trigger different sounds.  Ableton Live is a powerful tool, and it works in very advanced ways with the Max/MSP programming environment.  In order to identify a 'Touch Trigger' you would need to record a few touch events, and then try to program Max to recognize those types of MIDI patterns.  This is challenging because there is no special detection of touch events on the Sprout.

Similarly it would be possible to program the MIDI Sprout to detect a 'touch' and produce a specific MIDI indicator, with a few comparison statements added in the Arduino IDE it would be possible to create special MIDI messages.

Everyone loves it when they touch the plant and there is a musical burst.  That connection becomes magical to the user and brings in their interest and understanding.  But I always like to point out, one of the most amazing parts of using the MIDI Sprout is listening to changes and interactions without physical contact.  Notice how environmental changes appear to influence the notes and control message, people moving around a room - air pressure fluctuations - sun and clouds - emotional attention - reki

Anything can be done with MIDI, the tools are varied in both cost and complexity, but you will have to work for it.

Questions / Re: What lights?
« on: April 17, 2016, 06:14:08 PM »
Ack! We've seen two other sprouts with issues, but this is the first DOA report.  If you are confident that the batteries are connected correctly, then there must be some other issue.

I will send you both an email.

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