oneString Controller

oneString Controller

The oneString controller kits and instruments are now shipping!

A new No-solder Kit has been added by request! - I solder & test, you create the body (see below).

Inspired by the simplicity of the one-string "Diddley-Bow" of Delta Blues, the oneString controller is a super-simple and highly-expressive controller for laptop musicians.  It's designed to be an easy to construct, open-source USB MIDI ribbon controller for musicians looking for a new way to perform and compose.

  • USB Powered, allowing for only one cable. This means easy setup and portability in our wire-filled lives.
  • Uses a standard MIDI signal over USB allowing compatibility with almost all music software packages. (ANYTHING that takes keyboard input: Reason, reNoise, Energy XT, Ableton, FL Studio, Max-MSP, PureData... the list is endless!)
  • Uses free and open-source drivers to allow the most economical cross-platform (WIN, OSX, LINUX) solution.
  • Uses a minimum of parts, making it cheap and allowing for simple build instruction that even a beginner builder can finish in a day.
  • Body construction based on simple parts, allowing for everyone to easily make cool unique instruments without a wood-shop or plastics prototyping shop at their disposal.
  • Uses Arduino firmware allowing for augmentation and support from a HUGE open-source community.

Check out the latest demo on Youtube! :

A wiki for the oneString can be found here:

How it Works – What's a “ribbon controller”??

A “ribbon controller” is a long position-sensing strip that can control the tone or modulation of a synthesizer, much like a slide-able guitar string.  The sensor is read by a condensed USB powered “Arduino” circuit, which sends the MIDI synth signal to your laptop.  Once there, the signal is translated by open-source software and transported to the music software of your choice.

The device has a dip-switch to allow for 16 preset interface modes (ex: pitch-bend continuous tone, individual note sending, multi-octave ranges, control of other MIDI “CC's, etc... ). A potentiometer (knob) allows the user to change the tuning of the instrument on the fly.  Unlike currently available ribbon controllers, the oneString can be triggered by a second “rhythm tap” sensor, allowing for a unique 2-handed play-style.

Purchase Options

Basic DIY Kit: This includes everything except the body-base,  finger sensors and USB-Serial FTDI cable, commonly available from your favorite parts supplier. If you're considering modifying or trying an alternative layout, the basic kit lets you use your own parts, or try out different sensors with the instrument.

No-Solder Kit: This is a pre-soldered/tested PCB with all needed sensors, mounting screws and the cable. You provide wood or your choice of material for the body, mount it with a minimal amount of tools and start playing. A pre-sized base is available at your local hardware store or create your own custom body.

Full DIY Kit: This includes everything except the body-base.  All sensors, parts, and the USB Serial cable are included. Pick up a craft board at the local hardware store or create your own custom body.  Solder, test, mount, play.

Pre-Built oneString: This is a complete pre-built kit, built on beeswax finish red oak and including all sensors and the USB cable. Plug it in, and go.

PCB Only: Just the oneString Printed Circuit Board: If you're a hacker at heart, this printed circuit board, your parts, and the freely available source-code, parts list and instructions will be all you need to build your own oneString controller.

Price: from $18.00
from $18.00Price:
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