I am just getting started with the LittleBits Synth Kit. My kit arrived yesterday. The components in the actual kit seem to work as expected, but I ordered a few extra modules, some of which don't seem to work. Here's a list of what I've got and it's working state:
- LittleBits Synth Kit (works great)
- USB power module (works great)
- Microphone input module (works great)
- USB audio I/O module (doesn't seem to work)
- MIDI I/O module (doesn't seem to work)
- Arduino module (ordered, hasn't arrived yet)
- Bargraph output module (ordered, hasn't arrived yet)
- Number output module (ordered, hasn't arrived yet)
Both the MIDI module and the USB audio module come with a female Micro-USB type B port and a male Micro-USB B to male USB type A wire. Most USB devices give a male USB type A plug, so I figured I would be able to plug things in by using a male Micro-USB type B to female USB type A adapter. This hasn't worked. I tried several devices:
With the USB audio module, I tried plugging in my Blue Snowball USB microphone. The configuration of modules was USB power > USB audio I/O > Speaker. It got power (the red light on the micrphone lit up) but didn't capture any audio.
With the USB midi module, I tried plugging in my Alesis Vortex Keytar into the USB port on the MIDI module. It didn't get power initially, so I tried using DC to power it. I know the keytar works because I used it with other USB midi devices to test it. The configuration of modules was: USB power > MIDI I/O > Oscilator > Speaker.
I considered also trying an XBox 360 Rock Band 3 keyboard as a MIDI input device. Unfortunately, I couldn't connect it directly using MIDI because I don't have a male-to-male MIDI cable. (I've ordered one from China, should arrive soon) But I did try connecting it using a MIDI-to-USB converter and it didn't work -- not just with the littleBits setup but also with other MIDI devices I have. I'm not sure what's wrong with its MIDI capability. It works fine as a game controller. Any advice on getting these devices working would be greatly appreciated.
I am seriously considering ways to use LittleBits in actual music production. I have a programming background so I am going to be looking at ways to use the Arduino module to do audio effects such as making a vocoder. Has anyone published open source code of things like that using the Arduino module?
One thing I really dislike is that there seems to be no easy and reliable way to get the oscilator precisely tuned to notes on the mainstream Western musical scale. To work around this, I am thinking of maybe using my Gameboy Color or Gameboy Advance SP running Little Sound DJ on a flashcart connected to the microphone module using a male-to-male 3.5mm audio cable as an oscillator. Another possibility might be using my cell phone or even programming an Arduino module to act as an oscillator. I haven't been able to find much information on the capabilities of the Arduino module.
I am hoping to soon receive a Behringer Model D synthesizer so LittleBits is kind of a good intro and it helps to try things out. Just want to stretch LittleBits just a little further to see what it can do in terms of audio. Any advice would be much appreciated!