Its been a long road to get here but the final build of my physical controller has been done. Those of you that know me will know that ive been working on this for a long time. A year ago I built a prototype of these controllers using over the counter components, lots of wiring and a huge box full of circuit boards. Back in those days there was no maxforlive and everything was done in max/msp. However now that this is integrated with live the opportunities are endless and you can create a ridiculously powerful, and more importantly time domain driven, controller system. Here's a video of that original system.....
Since then technology has come a long way and you can pretty much eliminate circuit boards and wiring from your project if you want to make something wearable. The combination of maxforlive and conductive thread/fabric, lilypad arduinos and xbees required a complete redesign of the project and luckily I found a costume designer clever/mad enough to take on the challenge with me. As you can see from the photos below there was a lot of planning and drawing of circuit designs using thread to work out how to cram all the sensors on the gloves.
|A first sketch of wiring diagrams|
|more wiring madness|
Originally I had store bought bend sensors on the fingers, but these presented their own problems, they were difficult to keep in place and the weakest point on the sensors was just after the connections to solder them so they broke, alot. But its pretty simple to make a pressure sensor using conductive thread and velostat and these can serve as a bend sensor if you mount them over the knuckle.
|Controller gloves top side|
|Controller gloves bottom side|
So thats the build of the gloves done, the software is a whole other issue, due to the flexibility of max and live you can pretty much do whatever you want and build a bespoke system to tightly integrate with how you want to play, but thats something for another post. I hope this whets your appetite to see where this project goes. I'll be posting more about it all soon but if you want to catch me using these monsters live im playing at TAA in London on the 22nd of April and also at Tinnitus in Sheffield on the 29th.
Finally I have to give a massive shout outs to Annike who did all the stitching and sensor making for this project, without someone who could sew and was willing to make and remake things whilst we figured out what would work properly and do what I wanted I would have been back to wires. It took the two of us something like 40 hours of solid making to get these to the point they are now and shes been totally invaluable to getting this project together.
And also I have to thank Onyx Ashanti who patiently answered all my questions about xbees and what he was doing with his own beatjazz controller and was kind enough to give me a whole day of his time when I was visiting Berlin. You should check out his work as hes a fantastic musician, has made a brilliant controller and is one of the nicest people you could hope to meet.
So massive respect to them both, without you this project wouldnt be what it is now. Thank you!