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Intermittent Midi Sprout

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I own a Midi Sprout and did a performance over the weekend using it. I was practicing all week and it seemed to be working with no issues. Once it was time for the performance, it kept dropping off. I loaded the Midi Sprout with fresh batteries, several different brands but was getting the same issue. It would work for 30 or so seconds and then would stop. Each time I recycled the power it would work for a few seconds and then stop again. Unfortunately, mine seems to be intermittent. Have you had experience with this issue before? It's difficult aside from the batteries to trouble shoot. In the end, I suspect an issue with the pads and maybe the snaps not making good contact. It's hard to tell. I did also try multiple different plants and leaf textures to try and correct. Please advise. I'd really love to get it working reliably.

Thank you,

Yes, this is a common complaint which I have received.  I don't believe that there is anything wrong with your sprout.  If you touch the electrodes with your fingers and there is a light show then the system should be working as designed.  Also turning the unit on/off will usually create a flourish of notes, the plant will recognize if there is voltage present on the electrodes and will react, but this will not necessarily be a durable reaction.

Remember, when performing with plants the environment which you bring the plants into will directly impact and affect the plant.  The travel itself will have an impact and the time of 'performance' will also weigh in.  In the past users have tried to perform 'at 2am in the back bar of a rock club' and found mixed results with the plant seeming unresponsive, while then back at home at 3a lots of activity could be seen. 

The plants do not always perform when we want them too, and after the past few years i can say that i am completely unable to 'force' a plant to generate measurable bioactivity (well outside of subdermal injection of an acidic/basic solution).

What types of plants were you using, what time was the performance, and how much crazyness was happening at the venue for your performance?  Were you using a plant which you have previously worked with, or did you connect to a new plant?

If desired, you can send it to me and i would be happy to test it and provide repair if needed, but I don't think that anything is wrong with your sprout.  Leave the sprout and synth system connected to your plant and let it run for 6+ hours, you should encounter a period of activity as the plant goes through its normal daily routine.

Nicola Alexandra Hajdu:
There are a couple of things which we might want to get familiar with in order to achieve a fluent cooperation with our Plants at home and in the forest. It is up to us. We need to be ready to expand our perception, so we can build a deeper relationship, which needs a deeper understanding of how Nature and the Universe work all together. Perhaps needless to say that avoiding pesticides, herbicides and insecticides (can inhibit Photosynthesis), then clean water, an ideal soil quality (the needed PH-value amongst other details varies from Plant to Plant) and last but not least the basic knowledge about Photosynthesis may help to improve & maintain the Plant's health condition.


--- Quote ---“If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.”
? Nikola Tesla
--- End quote ---

Much Love

Hi Sam,

Thank you for the quick reply. I recognize the plants definitely change depending on time of day and environment. I was performing on a sunny day, in a garden in the afternoon. I tried multiple plants and ended up settling on one I had used before, a kale plant. I had used it before, when monitoring the eclipse. Not a ton of craziness the day of the performance. The whole thing was outdoors and attended by people coming and going. I'll try the 6 hour test and keep you posted.

On another few recordings I've made using house plants I find it curious that C notes are always avoided. Is this something you've run into?


I've done a bit more research (some of which was fun and destructive ;) and I'm thinking that an entirely new change algorithm and note mapping is probably appropriate at this point.  The MIDI Sprout runs the most basic application of my Biodata Sonification codebase and there are huge areas of growth and improvement which I have been pursuing over the past couple years following the Kickstarter.  I have a newer 'wifi' enabled biodata module which does not have this 'C' note avoidance nor does it 'constantly bang one note', all of which required a significantly more intelligent algorithm which can provide a 'human' observer with a better sonic experience.  I've also noticed how mishandling of the electrodes (touching things which would obviously destroy an electronic device - like a toaster) can cause many problems which can only be fixed by replacing the 555 timer... honestly i'm amazed that anyone can blow out a 555 timer, but its exciting that our MIDI Sprout community has explored deep enough to surprise even the engineer!

Of course I always come back to the fact that "Plants don't perform on demand" and "all of our greatest expectations are based on fragile human senses and sensibilities".

I'm very proud of Jon from Data Garden as he has pushed to develop an application to play the MIDI Sprout on an iphone. This app takes all of the scaling and annoying notes out of the picture and utilizes an additional algorithm to play pleasant tones using samples and synthesis.  It is only for iphones (hey don't complain i'm an android user too) and it is a great step forward for Data Garden.  I suggest grabbing an iPhone to USB 'camera connection kit' and trying out the app! 



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