Author Archives: Oliver Quinlan

Sync modular synths and electronic instruments with a DIY kit

via Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi community is wonderfully collaborative, with people all over the world supporting each other to make things they care about. It’s part of a much wider maker movement, and a new project from seismic industries, called spink0, brings the power of Raspberry Pi to another DIY community in the music world: modular synthesizer enthusiasts.

spink0 Raspberry Pi Zero W eurorack modular synth

Modular synths

Modular synthesizers are dedicated machines for creating and controlling electrically generated sounds. Unlike the ubiquitous electronic keyboards, they don’t offer pre-set sounds. Instead, they allow players to deeply manipulate the nature of sounds: by connecting different modules with each other via cables, players use signals from one module to affect and alter the sounds from another, and generally get very creative with not just the musical notes but the sound itself.

MOTM modular - Synth patch for second commission (by Charles Hutchins)

A low to middling number of cables

Modular synths have seen a huge growth in popularity in the last few years. This year’s BBC Proms even featured an improvised modular synthesizer performance in the Royal Albert Hall.

Recent developments in technology, and enterprising module creators, have made these machines much more accessible, largely through a modular synth format called eurorack. A thriving DIY community has also grown, with people assembling their own modular synths using kits or even building their own modules from scratch.

spink0 syncs music

Enter the Raspberry Pi Zero W, just the right size for adding sophisticated computing power to a eurorack module. The spink0 eurorack module uses the power of a Zero W to allow musicians to keep their eurorack synth music in time with music created with more common electronic instruments like drum machines and computers. The Zero W connects to a wireless network and uses the Ableton Link protocol to share timing information across this network. It converts this digital data into the analogue square wave clock pulses that modular synths use for musical timing.

spink-0 jam with launchpad and ableton

jam with spink-0. launchpad, the two spinks and ableton are synchronized with their integrated LINK protocol via a WLAN accesspoint provided by the 2nd spink module. Tempochange in Ableton at 0:37

With spink0, seismic industries have developed shaduzLABS’ original prototype pink-0 into an open-source DIY kit including PCBs and a panel that rather neatly integrate a Pi Zero into a eurorack module (a CLK/RST generator, to be exact).

spink0 PCBs — Raspberry Pi Zero W eurorack module.

The PCBs that seismic industries designed for spink0

Pi-powered electronic music jam sessions

This opens up a whole world of jamming potential to musicians who use these esoteric machines to make their sounds. A group of electronic musicians can get together, connect over a wireless network, and improvise ideas, all kept in time across the network. Thanks to spink0, eurorack synths can coexist with computers and even iPads and other tablets.

spink0 Raspberry Pi Zero W eurorack modular synth

spink0 without its top panel

Now anyone can link their modular synth with other music machines and computers for collaborative jams! Seismic industries offer the DIY kit, plus full instructions and code, so you can solder yours at home, or you can buy spink0 preassembled if you wish.

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Our 2017 Annual Review

via Raspberry Pi

Each year we take stock at the Raspberry Pi Foundation, looking back at what we’ve achieved over the previous twelve months. We’ve just published our Annual Review for 2017, reflecting on the progress we’ve made as a foundation and a community towards putting the power of digital making in the hands of people all over the world.

In the review, you can find out about all the different education programmes we run. Moreover, you can hear from people who have taken part, learned through making, and discovered they can do things with technology that they never thought they could.

Growing our reach

Our reach grew hugely in 2017, and the numbers tell this story.

By the end of 2017, we’d sold over 17 million Raspberry Pi computers, bringing tools for learning programming and physical computing to people all over the world.

Vibrant learning and making communities

Code Club grew by 2964 clubs in 2017, to over 10000 clubs across the world reaching over 150000 9- to 13-year-olds.

“The best moment is seeing a child discover something for the first time. It is amazing.”
– Code Club volunteer

In 2017 CoderDojo became part of the Raspberry Pi family. Over the year, it grew by 41% to 1556 active Dojos, involving nearly 40000 7- to 17-year-olds in creating with code and collaborating to learn about technology.

Raspberry Jams continued to grow, with 18700 people attending events organised by our amazing community members.

Supporting teaching and learning

We reached 208 projects in our online resources in 2017, and 8.5 million people visited these to get making.

“I like coding because it’s like a whole other language that you have to learn, and it creates something very interesting in the end.”
– Betty, Year 10 student

2017 was also the year we began offering online training courses. 19000 people joined us to learn about programming, physical computing, and running a Code Club.

Over 6800 young people entered Mission Zero and Mission Space Lab, 2017’s two Astro Pi challenges. They created code that ran on board the International Space Station or will run soon.

More than 600 educators joined our face-to-face Picademy training last year. Our community of Raspberry Pi Certified Educators grew to 1500, all leading digital making across schools, libraries, and other settings where young people learn.

Being social

Well over a million people follow us on social media, and in 2017 we’ve seen big increases in our YouTube and Instagram followings. We have been creating much more video content to share what we do with audiences on these and other social networks.

The future

It’s been a big year, as we continue to reach even more people. This wouldn’t be possible without the amazing work of volunteers and community members who do so much to create opportunities for others to get involved. Behind each of these numbers is a person discovering digital making for the first time, learning new skills, or succeeding with a project that makes a difference to something they care about.

You can read our 2017 Annual Review in full over on our About Us page.

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