We are switching the status of the Believotron project from active development to pause. It is high in our hearts, but the economic realities force a refactor and restructuring of the design philosophy. And that takes time, hardware iteration, and software development.
We currently need to put the project on hold and take care of some spinning plates. We saved all our nickles and were able to fund over 2 years of full time research and development, and many many more years of part time help. That money ran out in 2017 and we’ve been scrambling since then. Side work has become full time work. Fulltime work has become secondjob and thirdjob. We’ve been doing a very poor job of community engagement. It’s time to pause the project and take care of a few things so we can get back to making great progress.
Code can be deployed almost instantly. Hardware takes at least a week, if not several to fabricate a new circuit board, install all the components, and test out the design. Over the course of several years, this has put development out of reach for the short-term.
Although the project is very rewarding, the sale of synthesizers and accessories does not even come close to the cost of developing prototypes. Our goal was to create one of the lowest cost, highest featured synthesizers, and the focus on a low beta price meant that we would be subsidizing the cost of hardware. It seemed fair. Hardware iterates slowly and you are taking a risk by getting something that is mid-feature.
What this approach did was slow down development. Instead of learning from our mistakes on a given revision and then changing the hardware and software, we wound up slowing down the feature change to match the group of beta users on a static piece of hardware.
We believe that a great design that only highly skilled technologists can build or use isn’t as good as an okay design that spreads far and wide. There is a large technology gap from buying a consumer product and soldering one from parts. We thought that the best users and best feedback would come from people who had very low experience with hardware, programming, and synthesizers. Using this design goal, we aimed for a turnkey system. Something that is incredibly low cost and powerful for a super-user, but assembled and ready to go.
There is a disconnect in this goal. There is a lot of additional overhead in some of the components. Traditionally, component costs are sold at 3X the purchase price. Things like the Axoloti core, the enclosure, and the daughter board become prohibitively expensive. Some of the designs we’ve shipped would have cost $800 if we did this.
We need to change the strategy of the design to match the low-cost goal.
It’s a lot of fun to source your own parts and develop the whole tip-to-toenail software chain. It’s another thing to compete with every synthesizer company’s low-cost offerings. There are amazing $50 MIDI controllers that would cost $200-$400 in a low volume development environment. Recreating a MIDI piano keyboard would cost several hundred thousand dollars in plastic mold costs, not to mention the circuit boards. Imagine wanting to change anything. A lot of off the shelf MIDI controllers are better than anything open source is going to produce in the next few years. Competing with this in a development environment is a losing struggle.
We are going to do a few things in the next phase of the project. Here are our goals:
Raise the technology level expectations to someone who can through-hole solder
Possibly raise the technology level expectations to someone who can reflow surface mount components
Raise the technology level to someone who can write C/C++
Create a hardware accessory that processes physical user input and graphical user interface to offload processing from the Axoloti core
Stop selling high cost sub-assemblies and sell things like the Axoloti core as a pass-through accessory
Provide excellent assembly documentation so we don’t have to do it for you
Create prototype loaner units instead of selling a finished beta
Changing the small black and white OLED to larger, color touchscreens
Adding an offloading microprocessor, probably a Raspberry Pi
Switch from high-cost prototype circuit boards to off-the-shelf MIDI controllers
If you are a beta customer and are unsatisfied, please email us. We’re slooooowly going through our emails, but we will help you out between plate spinning.
In the meantime, if you’re interested in learning when the project unpauses, please sign up for our email newsletter: http://believotron.com/find-out-more
exotic and far out sounds for everyone
exotic and far out sounds for everyone
Feel like participating in the design conversation? Head on over to our community forum.
Introducing the Believotron Wanderlust, both an exciting and innovative sound creation platform, and a solid musical instrument that is open and extensible.
It does't matter what level of musicianship or technical knowledge; whether you have loads of gadgets or you're frugally evaluating one tool; the Believotron Wanderlust has an exciting journey for you.
Everyone is different, pick the workflow that works best for you. Use the existing settings and customize to your heart's content, or you can design a brand new way of working with the machine and share it with the community.
Every control on the Wanderlust can be routed to any part of the synthesizer model, to configure the machine exactly how you want it, flipping between settings with ease.
It's the flexibility of modular synthesizers, but with the magic, speed, and accelerando of a microcontroller.
Change the target of any control. Use a knob to adjust an LFO and with the tap of a button, that knob can be reassigned, cycled, or toggled to any control in the patch. Swap out one control, a row, or the entire UI. Learn more > >
Program / sequence / record / loop values for any parameter. Layer. Raise the attack on the start of every measure, lengthen the release at the end. Build emotion and expression into your sound. Learn more > >
Change how the controls are routed in time. Start by setting up the knobs to control Attack / Decay / Sustain / Release. The sequencer can automagically change the knobs to control phase / chorus / echo / flanger during certain bars / measures. Learn more > >
Add expressiveness make your sounds more dynamic. Record pad taps, knob turns, and joystick jostling, live. One-shot / Loop / Toggle / Timer-Counter playback for the perfect dramatic punctuation or emotive texture. Modify recorded values on the fly either overwriting or returning back to the recorded value. Program in your perfect performance and then push the edge on every playback. Learn more > >
Create new instruments that can quickly change states and become more mellow, more abrasive, more muted with the touch of a button. There are plenty of knobs, but often you'd like to turn five of them at once. Like wailing hard on a saxophone, quickly pushing your instrument to extremes expands the dynamic creativity. Learn more > >
Enough controls for a pod of six octopi
Enough controls for a pod of six octopi
Meander along a melody / lure with your lead / rumble out your rhythm. Connect a controller and enjoy these features.
We can't say enough good things about this open source gem. It's very feature packed. It's easy to use / modify and the clear leader on microcontroller audio ecosystems.
Master the future with enough knobs for two octopi. So many choices, it's designed to make you a grabby, handsy, twiddle-wizard.
Add just the right extra flare. Spice up a sequence. Explore new directions with these fluid analog controls.
Enjoy haptic feedback like you've never seen. Not just a fanciful dazzlement, understand what is going on inside the synthesizer.
Discover and create a whole new world of sound. Creative orchestras, strange new instruments, impactful installations. Use motion, light, and even sound itself to control the instrument. Translate those into physical motion and add to the wonderful genesis of new art.
We have so much respect for Johannes Taelman and his open source project, Axoloti. We found many wonderful audio engines during prototyping, but I wanted to go on just ooooone more search before settling on a particular solution. I couldn't have been more lucky in my entire life. We went from working on a single rigid synthesis engine that required reprogramming to alter the controls to a fully graphical programming system that incorporates the magic of arduino-like functionality. Find out more at axoloti.com
The Believotron Wanderlust has survived an epic slew of brainstorms on how to connect to existing open hardware platforms. Literally any platform that has 0.1" center pins will be able to interface with both the Believotron Wanderlust and the Axoloti Core hardware. We've implemented the three most ubiquitous / informative platforms. Raspberry Pi provides the most advanced processing platform. Arduino / Genuino offers the largest number of projects. Adafruit leads in informative, respectful, and creative projects. We've created a relatively straightforward workstation with expansions for you to create mind-bogglingly weird controllers, or the most modern and new workflow imaginable. Motion, acceleration, light, heat, images. Leverage the extensive open community and participate in the party!
Independently, we feel the calling. We all remember the first time we fell in love with a sound machine and got lost in the twisty little passages, all alike. Hours would pass, grey matter would be throbbing with new connections. Neurons that fire together play together.
It's that feeling of wonder and discovery that draws us all to a lifestyle of synthesizers, gadget-boxen, and transcending electronics to provide the sublime.
Believotron is dedicated to designing open creations that delight. Not just Diet-Open with a handful of files released, but full assembly drawings, part-numbers, machine descriptions, and process documents. We think that the tools released last year are thousands of times more capable than tools released a decade ago and we would like to contribute to the accelerando.
Our senior engineer has been at it for 17 years. He's shipped well over a billion dollars of hardware: a garage door on a 747 for the NASA SOFIA project (Psst we found oxygen on Mars), Semiconductor Test Equipment (Your cell phone, your car, your toaster, your...), Electric Vehicle Battery and Fuel Cell test, and several start-ups in security, transportation, and communication. Daniel balances his obtuse creativity with a strong desire to create quality hardware and documentation and is looking forward to setting a new standard for open hardware reuse and interoperability.
Our network includes Electrical Engineers, Mechanical Engineers, Manufacturing Engineers, Actors, Writers, Artists, Chicago, SF, NY, Austin, Salt Lake, Belgium, Shenzhen, Shanghai, Taipei (Saved best food for last #NightMarket)