karplus4arduino

2011 June 14

Why the Arduino?

Filed under: Digital music,Metacomments (about the blog),Robotics — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 21:28

I am starting this blog to record various things that I’ll be doing with the Arduino microprocessors.

Although I used to be a computer engineering professor, this blog is not a record of my professional activity, but of hobbyist activity.  My interest in microprocessor programming goes back a long way (back to the days of the 8080, 6800, and Z80 in the mid 1970s), but I moved away from it for a decade and have only recently gotten back into it.

Of the many different chips and development environments available, I chose to play with the Arduino boards, because there was a good community of users and a lot of peripheral boards (known as “shields” in the Arduino community) already available.  Anything I did on an Arduino would likely have an audience of hobbyists.  The chips and boards themselves are cheap, easy to interface to, and much more powerful than the microprocessors I used to work with.  The development environment is free and runs on my Mac (as well as on other systems).

My initial impetus to get the Arduino was to do some more exploration of the plucked-string algorithm that Alex Strong and I patented in 1987 (now known as the Karplus-Strong algorithm, though Alex really deserved top billing for the algorithm). More specifically, I wanted to try implementing and modifying Alex’s later algorithm, which was only published as a patent.

From what I can see, few people are playing with digital synthesis algorithms any more, though the ATMega chips of the Arduino are many times more powerful than the 8080, Z80, and TI 9900 chips that we were using in the early 80s.  I’d like to provide some solid implementations for the Arduino community to experiment with, and maybe write some tutorials.

Since getting the Arduino, I’ve started coaching a high-school robotics club, and so I’ve gotten interested in sensors and motor controllers for the Arduino. I’ll talk about those things on this blog also.

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