If you had to do it all again…

Let’s say you stumbled upon a great community of super intelligent and friendly enthusiasts and you wanted to get a kit just so you could not just enjoy the project but enjoy the community as well.

What would you do? Especially with the way the world is today and it’s hard to get anything right now.

If you could do it all over again what would you buy and what wouldn’t you buy?

This is a great community and I’m glad to be welcome here.

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Hi @N6n - great to see you here with the rest of us. I hope you enjoy your stay and that it is a long and enjoyable one.

It depends on what you want to achieve. If you want to just get a fully working device up and running as quickly as possible you might buy the full official kit. This has the most official and community support with full build instructions and should be a fairly frictionless path to Zynthian. If there are any issues with the build then you can be sure someone will help resolve very promptly and update the documentation to avoid future incident.

If you want to try out Zynthian with minimal outlay then you could try Zynthian with just a Raspberry Pi, HDMI monitor and mouse / keyboard. This is actually even faster than the full kit because you don’t have to build anything. You can see Zynthian in action, accessing (almost) everything it offers. The sound quality will be reduced if using the onboard 3.5mm sound and performance will be limited (due to the onboard sound driver performing poorly with JACK and hence dragging the rest of the system down). A class-compliant USB soundcard will fix that which can be picked up for £$€25 or so. That is a good and fast entry with minimal investment (especially if you already own the Pi / soundcard).

In between those two options lie the multitude of DIY / hacker options. Adding enocders directly to the Pi header or via MCP23017 (or similar) or using a microcontroller like the STM32 range or Arduino are all options that have been explored. The MCP approach has the advantage of being used in the official build so may have more support. It may also be less likely to break in updates.

Why, thank you.

@riban has listed the hardware options, so let me ask about your intentions…?

Do you perform or are you constructing…?

The zynthin was described from the outset as a swiss army knife and it’s that flexibility that the community largely adheres to.
Within the overall imitations of one audio in and out pair locked together by a JACK audio server we have demonstrated a pretty wide selection of options, and perhaps that is your best starting point are you using an attached audio component or are you widening out to USB based peripherals? Good to know that sort of stuff right off the bat, as it will save pain later.

As soon as you venture away from the standard kit you are into the realms of constructing your own hardware.
That leads you to selecting a screen of some sort. I have run a zynthian completely without a screen and indeed left it, magneted to a Roland A88 and it’s stand, with someone who just thought it was her grand piano which took a minute or so to start up.
Actually she just left it on all the time. It behaved perfectly.
So it can be done, but for any degree of reassurance, you want a screen. So external HDMI or something tangible…? Are you close enough to it and do you actually want to use it as a touchscreen? Is it purely conformational or do you want encoders and buttons to interact with it?

We’ve actually got that fairly nailed now. External control devices can be constructed and the zynth just responds, and this is over several different control paths.

0/ I2c Encoders and the like.

1/ A PC mouse. Great control with a read only screen or hdmi device or even if you have a touch screen but don’t trust someone not to touch it. If trvelling with a zynth ALWAYS take a mouse with you. Don’t need the keyboard since we got an on screen keyboard for snapshot naming.

2/ A PC Keyboard. Very powerful if a little cumbersome, gives you interface control via the API for much that requires GUI control. Want to start and stop recording ? Simple allocate a record toggle to a specific keyboard key, and set it up in the webconf.
Really easy and it works to a level of reliability that’s stage worthy.

3/ MIDI control Similar functionality to the keyboard for allocating bits and pieces. Wonders can and occasionally need to be performed in the MIDI Mapper to get stuff to behave but it can generally be achieved if the source controller is a MIDI device. Probably less used than the previous two, but it does represent the basis of the more complicated networky options that start to appear.

4/ Network MIDI control The above but over a Wired Ethernet Network. Don’t use Wifi unless you need mobile for burying in clothes and such like. Have a look at the Micro BIt if this excites you.

5/ OSC Where the smart kids are.

And I’ve probably forgotten something…

But it’s all accessible and with most of these it applies as well to a zynthian canonic kit as it does to the most ghastly mistreated Pi that limps, dreaming of oblivion, from the plentiful dungeons we keep for the production of such monstrosities, long may they live!

Hi! Thanks for all your ideas wyleu and riban. I think for my needs, a hardware, permanent, no touch solution for running pianoteq to get a Steinway Model D was my original intent, and that’s where I stumbled onto this Zynthian project. After doing some light reading, I was happy to click the Buy and that’s when I found out there’s no inventory, so I guess I’ll wait a bit for the next kit to be available. For now, I was thinking about taking this Roland HP-603A and setting it to local control off, feeding the midi into a Zynthian, set it to pianoteq Steinway model D, hiding the box so I don’t have to look at it, and feeding the outputs into the aux in. That’s what I want to do for now, but who knows what else there is to play with, later.