eChucK Standards Document

In eChucK, Music on January 28, 2011 at 2:54 am

There’s a new type of music synthesizer on the horizon.  It’s simple, elegant, inexpensive, and can take many physical forms.  Born out of a desire to make electronic models of software music programs, the e in eChucK is for electronic.  The ChucK part refers to my particular favorite music programming language, but that is not important here.  What is important is the standard, linked below:


The eChucK_Standard document is very informal.  It’s not some fancy standards document intended to be a legal definition between corporations, rather it conveys the general idea (and lots of specifics) of a novel modular synthesizer system.

In addition to having roots in music software, eChucK has branches in the sky of business.  eChucK is an attempt to define a standard so that the average hobbyist can produce a module or collection of modules and have a ready-made market of enthusiasts who may choose to purchase those modules.  Whether it’s kits or completed modules that you are offering, or both, the goal of eChucK is to provide a framework of standards and marketplace for you to participate as a community member.

At this point eChucK is just an idea.  I personally am really close to offering some modules in kit form, though that may be a little while from now.  Some people in the Lunetta community are thinking about offering kits.  Famous synth makers have offered mini-synth boards.  Not-so-famous synth makers have come up with some really cool designs.

All this is happening in the chaos of the free market with all it’s incompatibilities and one-off prototypes.  That’s just fine, but what’s needed is a standard that provides a framework for such development efforts.  eChucK aims to be that standard.

OK, OK, what IS it then?  Well, imagine a modular synthesizer with the case and front panels removed.  You’ve got a bunch of circuit boards with wires hanging off of them scattered about on a desktop.  Now make each board small and simple by reducing it’s design to minimal form.  Now the circuit boards are really small and the wires just changed into 22 ga. solid hookup wire.  You rearrange the boards onto a panel or in free space, supporting their light weight with the stiff wire, and make your own free-form synth sculpture.  Rewire to your heart’s content to make the music that you want.  That’s the idea behind eChucK.

To summarize, eChucK is a standard of tiny simplified synth boards wired freely with various miniaturization tricks like thumbwheel pots and micro switches, mini screw terminals for pcb i/o, and plain old wire for hookup.

So have a look at the standards doc and if you’d like to start making eChucK modules for your own fun and profit, drop me a line and I will help.  Enjoy!


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