January 5, 2014

Electrical Parade on littleBits


littleBits is electrical circuit creating toy. Each function is assembled in a block module with special magnet connector, for easy electrical connection. The crispy connection feeling is fun!
The founder is Ayah Bdeir and one of the funder is Joi Ito.
Last year 2013, KORG became littleBits official importer in Japan. They also started to design their original synthesiser modules with littleBits. The littleBits Synth Kit was released at December, 2013.
littleBits Synth Kit was referenced legendary classic synthesiser, KORG MS-20 for the circuit design. Each sound making elements was separated in small littleBits blocks. You can choose any of sound element block to assemble your designed musical instrument as you want :-)
littleBits Synth Kit is just a instrument. If you want to hear the songs on it, you should add the keyboard block, push switch, light sensor…etc, and play it in real-time. You can also use analog sequencer in the kit, but it is available only 4 notes and not enough for a melody.
I tried to find a way to send MIDI melody note data. I confirmed the magnet connector specification to connect my MacBook and littleBits.
The connector had three pins. The centered pin seemed for voltage-controlled (0-5V) and the others is for power(5V).
The centered pin seemed available for MIDI playing.
Incidentally, KORG MS-20 was revived as new synthesiser, “MS-20 mini” at last year.
The original and the revived mini have an output terminal to send keyboard notes as control voltage.
And USB was added to the revived mini…It means MS-20 mini is available to send the melody from my MacBook to littleBits.
At last, I succeeded to connect MS-20 mini to littleBits via special hand-made cable.
Let’s see the movie with the melody :-)

I imagine that littleBits persons may not like such as the activity.
Because they seems to avoid digital automation and preset things.
They may think such as the function omit children’s realtime-activity.
Sorry, they may never think so. It’s just in my image.
Anyway I think adequate digital and preset enable to expand children’s possibility.
I believe their activity for children and adult children ;-)
Finally, I would like to say the notice.
Such as the hand-made cable is enable to send over-voltage easily.
Take your own risk and let’s try!
littleBits Synth Kit