Otem Rellik is a musician, filmmaker, rapper, music technologist and performing alter-ego of Toby Hendricks. Much of his live rig is made up of electronic noise machines he made himself. He’s just dropped a video of his latest creation onto YouTube and it’s a pretty awesome device. He calls it the Raspberry Pi FM Touch Synth.
Getting into the Raspberry Pi
In a recent interview, Toby said that he was inspired into creating his own hardware when he became frustrated with the unreliability of apps he was performing with on an iPad. He started learning Pure Data (an open source visual programming language) to develop his own audio engines in MobMuPlat, the Mobile Music Platform. He was then able to replace all the apps with his own very robust development. Eventually, he decided it would be cool to build a dedicated hardware device. The Raspberry Pi was the ideal form factor to fit inside a box and it supported Pure Data making it the natural choice.
His first Pi based creation was the amazing looking Raspberry Pi Looper.
Fm Touch Synth
Building on the experience of getting something as ambitious as the Looper to work, Toby then moved onto the FM Touch Synth. It’s based on the Raspberry Pi Zero with a Teensy audio board and again written in Pure Data. It comprises of a wooden case, touchscreen with an impressive array of LEDs, and a row of 3D printed knobs. The sounds written in Pure Data are FM with subtractive features. The knobs cover attack/release, filter/FM amount, detuning, FM ratio, delay and volume.
The screen gives you 8 notes to play with. Currently, he has it tuned to A minor but says that he could add further scales. The Y axis can be used for modulation or mapped to whatever parameter you like. He makes use of the LEDs as a form of menu system, for both utility functions and synthesis editing. So you can dig into different pages of editing to control various parameters. It’s really quite neat. Check out the video for all the details.
It’s a phenomenally competent and finished product for someone who just enjoys knocking it up in his spare time. Because this isn’t a product (yet) it’s just for fun and for his own use. However, at the end of the video he ponders the possibility of making it available as a product. Judging by the comments beneath the video I think he could be onto a winner. If ever there was a synthesizer ripe for Kickstarter then this would be it. So, if this interests you then let Toby know, encourage him into the idea of crowdfunding and we may yet see this as something we can all play with.