HelloBrendan Byrne is a designer from Brooklyn. His work has been exhibited in venues such as the Game Science Center, Eyebeam, and SF MoMA, and featured on Adafruit, Hackaday, and the Daily Dot. In 2013, Brendan founded Kiwi Electronics, a small design and fabrication studio. He holds a master’s in Design and Technology from Parsons School of Design.
For Whom the Bell TollsDestiny Clock is modular programmable system for generating musical compositions. Signals are strictly on/off messages. Patches use a combination of generator and processor modules before passing signals. The interface module constructs and transmits a MIDI message to a hardware or software synthesizer.
This version uses 3.5mm patch cable connections and a modified Eurorack standard. It is constructed of translucent and matte-black acrylic as well as stainless steel mounting braces. The interface module features two options for input: note selection through the use of tunable potentiometers and a graphically represented keyboard where each point represents a note. The system is composed of 24 modules with a total of 437 LEDs and 370 patch points.
Portable VersionThe portable version of Destiny Clock uses surface-mount pin headers as connection points between modules. Due to space restrictions, modules consist solely of their constituent inputs and outputs. Some modules run using everyday logic chips like the 4051 Multiplexer or the 4015 Shift Register. Others use an ATMEGA328P with custom firmware written in Arduino. The system is enclosed in translucent acrylic case.
PrototypeThis early system includes a barebones square wave signal generator, frequency divider, shift register, and multiplexer. It uses banana jacks as patch points. The interface module uses a Teensy that has been programmed to output MIDI note information whenever an input signal is detected. The potentiometers are used as general CC controllers.
Video SynthesizerThe prototype Destiny Clock was used to experiment with generating visual output. Image output is composed of a series of rectangular color strips. The height, color, and position of each strip are determined by the current states of twelve binary operators. The frequency division module is utilized extensively to create visually harmonic patterns.
A New Modular Electronic Music SystemTheseus is a modular platform for generating musical and visual compositions. Building on the Eurorack analog synthesizer standard, the platform uses 3.5mm patch cables to interconnect modules. However, unlike the Eurorack standard, Theseus is entirely digital and produces MIDI/OSC control messages rather than CV signals. This simplification in fidelity greatly reduces the cost and complexity of the electronic circuits, making patch cable systems more accessible to users. Thirteen modules were designed to demonstrate the potential of such a platform.
Life OrangesLife Oranges is the main trigger and gate signal generator for Theseus. The module produces five square waves. The topmost controller determines a main frequency. The remaining four channels produce signals at varying divided rates of the main frequency. The value of the divisor is set by a corresponding rotary controller.
Divided signals are crucial in developing rhythmic patterns, syncing modules, and offsetting sequences. Life Oranges works well with the Muxquencer, Boolean Logic Matrix, and Mandalatron modules.
Don’t Care NowDon't Care Now is a three channel square wave generator with inputs for frequency modulation. The switch located on each channel toggles between coarse and fine frequency adjustments.
Wavefriends & FriendshaperWavefriends takes the four output channels of Friendshaper and pairs them together. These paired signals are averaged or multiplied to create a summed waveform as an output. The final rotary controller determines the ratio of how much either waveform is present. This can be used to create interesting waveforms or as a mixing tool to smoothly transition between two waveforms.
Ripple Me TimbersRipple Me Timbers is one of the more complex modules in Theseus. It records incoming waveforms and plays them back at a reduced speed. The playback speed is determined by a divided frequency rate. The result is a rhythmic harmonic of the input signal. An offset controller on each channel sets the starting point of each sample in relation to the original.
MuxquencerThe Muxquencer is a union between a step sequencer and a multiplexer. Four binary selection bits are used to pick one of the sixteen steps to be routed to the module’s output. The order of the selection inputs can be permutated. Blue LEDs indicate the original selection while green LEDs represent the permutation. This allows the same information to create two entirely different pattern sets. The permutation controller is also voltage controllable; feedback from the Muxquencer's values can be used to alter its own pattern.
MandalatronMandalatron is a four channel ten step sequencer. Each channel possesses the same values set by the ten central rotary controllers, but with isolated clocks and sequence lengths. When the clock input is triggered, the sequence will advance by one step and reset to the first step at the point designated by the sequence length controller.
EyesFire Emblem, a 2003 Gameboy Advance Game from Nintendo and Intelligent Systems, features a collection of heavily armored warriors engaging in combat to save their world from the forces of evil. In cut scenes between combat events, four characters are presented from the chest up with text bubbles above whoever is speaking. During these scenes, characters will blink intermittently. These blinking events are the driving force behind the Eyes modules.
An hour long portion of the game was recorded using screen capture software. Processing was then used to count the milliseconds between each character's blinks to produce a data table. This data table was then uploaded as firmware to the Eyes module. The blinking LEDs are perfect copies of the original blinks found in the game.
LowfoLowfo is a four channel low frequency oscillator. Each channel is capable of producing square, triangle, ramp, sawtooth, and random waveforms. The frequencies of the oscillators are determined first by a rotary controller and second by a modulation input. Waveforms are selectable by a small pushbutton. The leftmost and rightmost oscillators can have their signals reset by an external trigger.
World ClockWorld Clock is a simulation of birth rates. Data points from the United Nations Children's Fund's 2013 report were used to calculate the frequency at which births occur in a variety of places across the planet. Essentially, LED flashes indicate live births in simplified real-time for the year 2013.
Neat TVNeat TV is the only utility module in the collection. It acts as an oscilloscope by receiving waveforms and producing a graphic visualization. Neat TV supports two voltage inputs, each with a bypassed output and individual refresh control rates.
Boolean Logic MatrixThe Boolean Logic Matrix accepts gate signals on each of its axes. A logic operation at the XY coordinates of the inputs is performed and a processed signal is output. The Logic Matrix offers AND, OR, NOR, NAND, XOR, XNOR, and NOT logic functions with the last pertaining exclusively to inputs on the X axis.
Maht DvdrMaht Dvdr is driven by a master clock signal. With each trigger it receives, an onboard counter increases by one. Sixteen frequencies, each a division of the current counter value, run in the background. These channels are accessed and routed to each output using three inputs. The first receives a voltage that determines which of the ten output positions to select. The second determines what divided frequency to assign to that output. Lastly, a latch input locks the selected divided frequency to the selected output channel.
Missing No.Missing No. is the strange mutable module of the collection. It uses both literal and random routing systems to generate outputs.
Portable Electronic AdventuresOh, the joy of taking your creations on the road and sharing them with friends! The games featured here are easy to learn, social, and easily transportable. Their enclosures are lightweight yet sturdy. But above all else, they were created to brighten someone’s day.
Push All The Buttons
Push All The Buttons is a game with no rules and, as its name implies, a single objective. Players are encouraged to explore and experiment with different techniques to achieve victory. A 128 Arduinome and Max patch serve as the games platform.
Push All The Buttons Playtest
Push All The Buttons Photos
Sea BeesSea Bees is a virtual pet game inspired by the original Tamogotchi. In it, you raise a unique breed of underwater bee by providing nutritious food and making sure they beehave themselves. Perform your apiary duties adequately and your companion will grow and evolve. There’s a complex branching evolution tree for players to explore. The device is battery operated, so you can take it everywhere you go.
Link : Sea Bees Collaboration
EnvoyEnvoy is a tangible text adventure. You assume the role of a space captain en route to an alien world. On board your ship is a diplomat who will bring an end to a war that has divided the galaxy for centuries. But all is not as it seems. The player must use their wit and puzzle-solving abilities to ensure the envoy arrives safely.
Envoy consists of four physical elements:
- A main CPU housed within an aluminum enclosure holds the entire game on an internal microcontroller. The device is programmed to behave as a USB keyboard. When connected to a computer, it automatically begins to type the story.
- A five-button controller acts as the player’s main interface for selecting story paths within the game.
A dossier of printed materials provides context for the story.
- A modified Rubik’s cube with conductive panels and a docking station serve as the game’s final puzzle. The docking station is an array of switches that is capable of detecting whether the player has correctly solved the puzzle.
7-SDSThe 7-SDS (Seven-Segment Display Synthesizer) is a rudimentary computer for displaying text. It is capable of programming six LED displays through the use of an array of switches. Due to the limited resolution of the displays, all but a handful of Roman characters can be represented. W, X, K, M, and Q are the exceptions.
This limitation was the inspiration for generating a lipogram, a constrained writing technique in which selected letters of the alphabet cannot be used to compose a text. In addition to this, all words must be entered on the 7-SDS in six-letter blocks. Blocks may contain more than a word, but a word may never be split across more than one block.
The 7-SDS was presented at Proteus Gowanus to the Writhing Society, a collection of writers who practice the methods invented and codified by the Oulipo. The text here was composed by Corina Bardoff.
Experimental Interfaces for PlayYou can’t play a video game without a controller, but the good news is that you can pick whatever controller you want or even make your own. Simply changing the input method can radically alter the way a game is experienced. These devices celebrate what becomes possible when you decide to break out from the confines of the D-pads, triggers, bumpers, analog sticks, and buttons.
Panoramical Home Controller
Fifty special edition controllers were made for the development team and early supporters of Panoramical. The laser cut walnut and acrylic cases were sanded and then assembled by hand. The electronic components consisted of a custom printed circuit board and a USB microcontroller.
Link : Game Website
Super Sequence FighterSuper Sequence Fighter is a video game controller based on a step-sequencer. Players program their commands using two sets of slide potentiometers: one for movements and another for attacks. These commands are stepped through sequentially and executed automatically. Other controls are used for altering the rate that the steps advance, limiting the number of steps, and reversing the direction of the sequence.
Super Sequence Videos
Super Sequence Photos
Electronic Instruments StoreKiwi Electronics was a small electronics design studio specializing in the creation of hardware interfaces for navigating sonic and visual environments. Founded in 2013, Kiwi started off catering primarily to the noise and chiptune music communities through DIY products including MIDI interfaces and matrix mixers. Kiwi later focused on designing affordable modular controllers. The studio closed in 2017 with over 500 customers and twelve completed designs.
Passive Matrix Mixer
The passive matrix mixer is an invaluable tool for noise artists whose practice is based in feedback loops. Devices like these have found fame through their heavy use by avant-garde composers like David Tudor and Merzbow. The Kiwi Matrix Mixer is the most compact iteration ever produced. A kit version was also made available to electronics hobbyists.
Link : Matrix Mixer Photos
Modi is a controller bank system designed for AVR microcontroller platforms like Arduino and Teensy. There are four distinct module types available, each consisting of either 8 or 16 individually readable analog or digital controllers. Modi boards can be stacked to support up to 64 inputs making them ideal for MIDI/OSC projects. The system utilizes the 4051 8-channel analog multiplexer and a firmware library to collect readings.
Link : Modi Videos
Generation I : ArduinoboyThe Arduinoboy is an open source project by Timothy Lamb from 2008. The software is designed for the Arduino hardware platform and allows MIDI communication to music applications on the Nintendo Gameboy such as LittleSoundDJ, Nanoloop, and mGB. Kiwi electronics created the first commercial release of Lamb's hardware and software design.
Generation II : ArduinoboyFor this iteration, professionally printed circuit boards were used along with compact powder coated aluminum enclosures. This version offered MIDI IN and OUT channels. Circuit-board kits were released for experienced hobbyists who could supply their own housing for the device.
Link : Arduinoboy Photos
Generation III : ArduinoboyIn this final iteration all components were board-mounted inside an open acrylic enclosure. This streamlining allowed units to be produced more quickly and affordably.
MFOS Noise ToasterThe Noise Toaster is a lo-fi analog noise synthesizer designed by Ray Wilson of Music from Outer Space (MFOS). This version from Kiwi Electronics included a modification for external CV control of the VCO as well as an input that passes a mono audio signal through the VCF.
Link : Noise Toaster Photos