Daisy is the tiny $29 computer that lets musicians make their own instruments

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Daisy is a tiny board that lets musicians make their own instruments.
Image: Electrosmith

Raspberry Pi and Arduino are probably some of the first names that come to mind when thinking of at-home engineering. However, those aren’t the only products on the market. For those who enjoy creating their own musical instruments from scratch, there is arguably an even better solution out there.

Daisy is an open-source microcomputer that offers everything a tech-savvy musician might need to create their next unique instrument. It allows you to write code for your own pedals, synths, modules and more. Better yet, it’s only as big as a stick of gum.

Size Isn’t Everything

Typical music hardware isn’t exactly the sleekest equipment out there. From bulky boxes to odd-sized jacks, the gear that musicians need to perform can be inconvenient. Perhaps that’s why more and more artists are turning towards making their own instruments.

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Daisy is built with this population in mind. The tiny board somewhat resembles an Arduino and supports multiple programming languages. These include C++, Arduino, Max/MSP, and Pure Data. While the latter two don’t have the name recognition of the first two outside of the music world, they are popular choices for building custom audio processors.

Meanwhile, Daisy doesn’t slouch in the specs department. It offers two paths of line-level audio along with MIDI connectivity—two features that are vital in the music world. Meanwhile, it has 64MB of SDRAM, a built-in micro USB port, and boasts a latency rating of just under 1ms. For those not familiar, that is blazing-fast.

What makes this board stand out (aside from its impressive features) is that it costs just $29. Daisy is a Kickstarter project that has already reached more than double its original funding goal. Early adopters have a chance to jump on board now and get ahead of the game.

Endless Options

While Daisy is a perfect board for creating custom music equipment, the company behind it (Electrosmith) also has a lineup of four pre-made, Daisy-powered devices to help newbies start out. A breakout board called Daisy Pod, the Daisy Petal guitar pedal, a Eurorack Module called Daisy Patch, and Daisy Field, a desktop synthesizer, make up the quartet. Each of them can be “purchased” by supporting various tiers of Daisy’s Kickstarter campaign.

However, if you’d rather just fly solo, Daisy operates by itself and doesn’t need any other branded equipment to function properly. It also comes with headers already installed so you don’t need to solder anything to get started.

For those with that do-it-yourself spirit, Electrosmith also plans on publishing the full schematic and technical documents for how Daisy works. Those will join example programs for each evaluation platform to help musicians learn how the board works and how they can harness its power to their advantage. Meanwhile, since Daisy is open-source, consumers can use it in any personal or commercial projects they dream up.

Although Daisy is built with music in mind, it also has a lot of potential to be a STEM learning tool. It’s a great beginner board for kids wanting their first taste of circuitry and computers.

Daisy’s Kickstarter campaign concludes on March 26 and device shipments will begin in April.

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