Controlling LittleBits Synth Kit With MIDI

Japanese reader Masaki Higuchi is experimenting with using MIDI to control the littleBits Synth Kit.

In the video above, Higuchi uses the Synth Kit to play back a MIDI file of Jean-Jacques Perrey and Gershon Kingsley’s Baroque Hoedown, well known for its use in Disney’s Main Street Electrical Parade.

Here is the approach that Higuchi used:
korg-ms-20-mini

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 synthesizer, “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.

Essentially, the Korg MS-20 Mini is being used as a USB to CV converter.

Since littleBits has open sourced the Synth Kit designs, it would be interesting to see someone create a compatible MIDI to CV module. Note that, while littleBits has open sourced the circuit designs, their logos, the physical look of the modules and, importantly, the design of their magnetic connectors, are proprietary.

Check out the demo and let us know what you think!

via Masaki Higuchi

6 thoughts on “Controlling LittleBits Synth Kit With MIDI

  1. Great vid and superb quality from this synthopist, This kind of vids are always welcome. this kind of demonstrations can help us to decide to purchase or not an item (in this case the LittleBits). After the vid I can confirm (to my self) that it has to be LB are a very cool toy and it should be seen as is. (IMHO)

    Like this comment?: Thumb up 4
  2. Does LittleBits use 1V/octave? I emailed their tech support and they person that responded didn’t seem to know what I was talking about.

    Like this comment?: Thumb up 2
  3. I hacked mine to play midi using teensy 3.0 (arduino). It runs at 3.3V rather than 5V but from what I am seeing the oscillator input voltage is not linear with the pitch. But I am not completely sure about my circuit, I should buy a voltmeter really, or a 5V teensy 2.0.

    https://vine.co/v/hYXDrLxHZJ1

    Like this comment?: Thumb up 1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *