Cardboard is generally used as packaging, to house new instruments during transit for example. But we've seen a number of gear innovations that are actually built using cardboard over the years, including a full-size Stratocaster, an amp in a can, and some drum kits. The latest to join the cardboard band is the Beatbox, a MIDI drum machine built into cardboard housing.
The Austin-based startup behind the Beatbox – Rhythmo – is aiming the build-it-yourself kit at makers and STEAM students. As its name suggests, it's a rhythm machine designed for beat creation and play.
The kit comes with Japanese arcade-style buttons, a joystick, parameter knobs, and two 50 W speakers that are mounted to the outside of a recyclable cardboard box. All wires inside the box are connected to a Teensy 3.6 dev board and a 3,000 mAh battery pack. Assembly is reckoned to only take an hour.
This means that Beatbox builders can customize their own drum machine with whatever personalized art they wish, and at the end of its useful life, the device can be dismantled and the cardboard recycled. Or all of the hardware can be assembled in another enclosure and the beat-making given a new lease of life.
A companion iOS/Android app hosts samples, tutorials and offers the ability to record creations, and is compatible with third party music creation software such as GarageBand, Ableton and Fruity Loops.
The 30-mm (1.18-in) mechanical buttons serve as performance pads for finger drumming, the parameter knobs control channel volume defaults, a multi-purpose joystick works as a menu navigator for the app and as an X/Y effector, and more (smaller) buttons can perform different tasks – such as play, record, bank switching and more).
"The music world is a living thing that adapts to fit the needs of musicians," said Rhythmo founder Ethan Jin. "A downside of this is that it can cater more towards the experts of the community, making
the process more exclusive and daunting to a newcomer. We believe that everyone has the potential to make music and we are dedicated to delivering an accessible way to fulfill that potential. No more
overcomplicated software and overpriced equipment. We want to give production back to the people."
Rhythmo is launching a Kickstarter to fund production on September 3, where backers will be offered special discounts on the expected retail price of US$150. In the meantime, the video below has more.
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