Some days ago, I made the decision to move forward without using my own cast button pads. This process, whilst educational has failed several times. I hear this is possibly due to the size of the mould itself, as it’s small, any external pressure is causing unpredictable results on the final castings.
This is disappointing. So far, other than the 3D printed casings on the prototypes, I have went through the manufacturing process and created each component by hand. As design goes, another solution needs to be found.
The market presents many options of button pads that share similar specification to what I’m looking for. The issue with some of these as they are designed to fit in a ‘fixed’ layout. Most common controllers and machines display a 4×4 grid of pads. Because these are grouped together within close proximity, the sizing of the pad can leave room for play. In some cases, a little smaller (more to the natural spacing of our fingers perhaps) can ultimately offer much better results in our performances. My design proposes a form of ‘modularity’ and ‘openness’, meaning that these devices can be moved freely, and independently. This freedom comes with its downside. If our performer is using a kick drum assigned to a device to his left, whilst he has a cowbell assigned to his far right, he has to be more precise in his attack on the pad if it is smaller. With more volume, comes less thought. The larger the pad, the more instinctive and natural hits. Ideally, I could test such situations. As this decision has come later than I would like I won’t have that opportunity. Moving forward…
I knew that I needed to find new pads, reasonable in size, tactile to the touch and at least 8 of them.
The last few days have been an exploration of product in its own right. Naturally, this journey started on Google. I searched for every music product I could think of that had pads of similar specification. This naturally led to a few others. I had the idea of (hopefully) acquiring a broken controller or product that I could salvage pads from. eBay and Gumtree brought me to very little worth pursuing. Online forums and facebook gave me outdated ads which lingered, coming to a dead end.
Even looking for spare pads themselves failed, only accessible in the US. Time isn’t on my side, so this wasn’t an option.
I thought at this point that It may be worth contacting a DJCAD alumni who works for Native Instruments, to see if he could help out. After all, from my own experience I know these pads are excellent (although a little smaller than I’d like) and being able to get a hold of them from a company that I see myself working for in the future makes things that little bit sweeter.
Yesterday, my contact at NI came through and told me he’d send me some pads. I’m ultimately grateful. This means I can move forward with the redesign now that I know the specs of the pads themselves.
By chance, last night, I also found an ad on gumtree selling a used NI Maschine (of which the above pads come from). He had custom pads on his device and I wondered if he still had his originals spare. It turns out he does, he is willing to let them go for cheap and will even get them sent out first class post.
Now, pads shouldn’t be an issue. I have room to experiment with them and a few extra to create new devices if it should come to it.
More on the redesign in a future post.