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The Knob

A virtual bank of analogue knobs, for synthesis (and other uses) - except that one of them is real - the one you've got your hand on.
  (+17)(+17)
(+17)
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against]

The nearest thing to this idea is the 'Griffin Powermate' knob, which is basically like half of this idea - the upper half.

Pretext: I've never been comfortable with creating music wholly on computer. I used to collect vintage analogue synths and sequencers, until I had to sell most of them. I realised that making music, for me, involved standing up: physically moving between one synths control panel and another, and using both hands and feet to sculpt the ongoing product. One finger on one hand on a mouse whilst sitting on ones arse just doesn't do it for me.

If I were to move over to computers (which I might do if I can jettison my annoyingly obtuse and now it seems, hardware-faulty Yamaha QY700 (some buttons are getting dead and the wheel is knackered)) then I'd have to find a way of hands-on patch affecting (for example, for my remaining three Oberheim Matrix 1000 synths). There are, on the market, boxes of banks of knobs that connect to a USB port on the computer. These are nice looking products, and of course, cost a lot.

If one is going virtual, why not only have the one knob, and move it about on a virtual front-panel layout. Take the actual knob, and hybrid it with an optical mouse. Then the knob can act as a knob in the position you place it in, and you can simply move the knob to another position and it then becomes 'that' knob. Does this make sense?

It could even be possible to 'project' a virtual layout of the synth's control panel onto the flat surface you're 'mousing' the knob about on. Not sure how effective or necessary this would be - it sounds cool, but might not prove that useful in practice.

There would need to be a very fine balance between the weight and friction of the knob versus the mouse. It should be easy to turn the knob without moving the mouse aspect of it, and conversely it should be easy to move the mouse to become another knob, without affecting the knob position as you go. This is a physical engineering tweaky thing, which I'm sure can be surmounted.

Alternatively, this idea could've been in the superhero category, if the words contained were different altogether.

Ian Tindale, Aug 03 2005

Standing up: Very Kraftwerk http://jan.moesen.n...-music-non-stop.jpg
[calum, Aug 03 2005]

(?) Standing up: Very Ramones http://homepages.co...n/homer-ramones.gif
[calum, Aug 03 2005]

Made standing up http://tindale.dyn....c/iceage-4-edit.mp4
in '97, in front of Korg MS10, MS20, SQ10, Mono-Poly, TR-808, TR-606, MC202, SH-09. CSQ-600 and various other bits (but no computer), all 'in front of me' in almost two vertical columns of synthery. Not overly un-Kraftwerkish either, it's been pointed out to me. It's an mp4 file - be prepared. [Ian Tindale, Aug 03 2005]

[link]






       Nice. If you're only going to have one knob you can afford one moulded from the finest bakelite.
hippo, Aug 03 2005
  

       Oh yes. +. Buttons and mice just don't cut it; we need more knobs. I hope it would have a nice, smooth, movement, with sufficient friction to make it seem high-quality. The knobs on my Cambridge Audio amp are what I'm thinking of.
salachair, Aug 03 2005
  

       I find the whole standing-up thing so very...Kraftwerk. The Knob should be turned aircraft-grade aluminium or titanium, with the merest pin-point UV LED. Bun.
AbsintheWithoutLeave, Aug 03 2005
  

       Very nice idea.   

       You might be able to put a "parking brake" on the mouse-base to avoid slippage.
baconbrain, Aug 03 2005
  

       Ralf &
Florian &
Karl &
Wolfgang
  

       (Idea for a T-shirt that mimics a current fashion about town).
Ian Tindale, Aug 03 2005
  

       If you want some analogue or multiple discrete point control, an alternative to a knob is, of course, the lever. Now, I realise that a knob has it's plus points but I suggest that some lever functionality, in hardware, would be a good enhancement. Not like a slider in a sound bench, but the kind of lever that you imagine is used in a starship that is about to enter 'ludicrous speed'.
Jinbish, Aug 03 2005
  

       I want one for my microwave oven, just like the old ones had, a time knob and a temperature knob. If for some reason these had to be replaced by arrays of digital buttons, at least they could provide virtual knobs.
farble, Aug 03 2005
  

       I'm happy that other people know what this is about, because I haven't a clue. Still, I'm giving it a + for the last paragraph.
ldischler, Aug 03 2005
  

       Presumably there must be some gizmo to allow the knob to rotate without the mouse, or is it the mouse that rotates? (Ooh... I think there's another idea in there.)   

       ...or a hand following knob. You gesture where you want the control to be and it arrives in time for you to twist it. I'm not sure my brain could cope with using that one, though.
st3f, Aug 08 2005
  

       That'd be the crux of the design - the thing that 'makes it' either a haphazard lash-up or a complete pleasure to use. I suppose there are several approaches, and all of them would have to be prototyped in various variants of materials, sizes and weights, to ascertain tactile and kinetic usability. One approach might be to 'push in or down' to allow the mouse to be the moving thing, which inherently locks the knob from rotation at the same time. Another might be to squeeze the knob. Yet another, which I quite fancy, but might easily just not work out, would be to allow the knob to lock and the base to freely move, if it's only being touched at one point (ie, not being gripped with opposing digits) - but this would restrict knob relocation to a 'shove' mode of operation, where you nudge it or push it using one fingertip. As soon as you grip it with two digits, either side of the knob, the knob would release and the base would lock.
Ian Tindale, Aug 08 2005
  

       The Knob could have wider application - when used in the vicinity of your microwave oven, it would control the oven settings, when used near your electric kettle, it would switch the kettle on and off, when used near your stereo it would be a volume control, etc.

-- "One Knob to rule them all, One Knob to find them, One Knob to bring them all and in the darkness bind them" --
hippo, Aug 08 2005
  

       Being that there's only the one knob now, there's no real restriction to the size. You can have a larger knob than could be accommodated on a given control panel than hitherto. For example, if your knob is bigger than the spacing between knobs, this would not be possible in the purely physical sense, but now it is. I wonder what size knob most people would prefer? I suppose this has two design aspects - the size of knob that is pleasing to behold, and the size of knob that is pleasing to be holding.
Ian Tindale, Aug 08 2005
  

       fMRIs? Functional MRI? On a knob? Give me more, [Treon].
bungston, May 16 2007
  
      
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