ForumsNews ← Unibody Soundplane.

Spring is here, and as we get closer to having finished prototypes to show off I am going to be posting updates more frequently. I'm working on two main tasks right now, one of which is finishing the Soundplane enclosure.

We have two prototype enclosures milled by O. B. Williams, a local company that mainly does architectural millwork. They have been around since 1890, which makes them one of Seattle's oldest companies. As you can imagine, they know a lot about wood there, about what species to use for different projects, and how to make things that will look great and last. When I visit them I always learn something new.

CNC machines like they are using have made a lot of new designs possible in wood. Look at the beautiful new bikes from Renovo for example. I think we will see lots more innovative products based on this intersection of natural materials and computer-aided manufacturing, and I'm very happy to be making one.

As you can see above, the Soundplane body is milled out of a solid block of wood. A difference from the first prototype is that pegs are left in to hold the circuit board, which means no more messing with plastic standoffs, less assembly time, and lower costs in the long run. There is a back panel (not shown, boring) with a rabbet cut into it that fits snugly into the piece shown. Then the two are screwed together to make a very solid monocoque structure.

As you can see on the front, the unmilled block is actually two blocks glued together down the middle. Why? Two main reasons. The first is mechanical: the composite is less prone to warping than a solid piece of wood. The glue joint is supposed to be stronger than the wood itself, something I look forward to verifying with destructive testing when we are done with our earlier prototype.

The second reason is sustainability: using 4" instead of 8" boards means that a much younger tree can be used. And young alder trees grow very fast. Alder itself has other benefits, including being beneficial for other trees in mixed stands. Find out more courtesy the US Forest Service. Time was, alder was considered a weed tree in our Pacific Northwest, and used for fuel. But for the above and other reasons its popularity as a craft wood is growing. I love its soft glow with a clear oil finish, as shown here, and I hope you'll agree.

Coming soon: more construction details, and our first software synthesizer.

Looks absolutely lovely. I'm glad that there will be some more updates coming. And great to hear that you are thinking about things like sustainability as well :)

You mentioned the first software synthesizer at the end of your post. I would like to ask if you also plan to provide raw OSC or MIDI coming from the Soundplane?


hi David, the Soundplane A will have only a USB connection that transmits the raw sensor data. So you'll need to use a computer with it, running our translator software to make OSC and MIDI messages. We are also working on software synths that will listen directly to the Soundplane data.

This software is being written with the help of a cross-platform framework, JUCE. So while we are developing on Mac and may release there first, we want to support Mac, Windows and Linux ASAP.

good question, I added it to the FAQ, if you have any more, please ask.

Hiya Randy,
Ok thanks for the clarification. I'm fine with a USB only connector and using some software as a translator. My main use would be with Kyma, so a computer is obligatory for me! Oh and JUCE is a great tool, I have used it for a few things recently.
So keep up the hard work, I'm looking forward to this with extremely baited breath :)