This workshop presents Bela, an embedded platform capable of ultra-low latency audio and sensor processing. Bela projects can be written in C/C++ or Pure Data, with beta support for the Faust DSP language, but knowledge of these is not required to participate in the workshop. The platform is a great base for building new musical instruments, interactive audio installations, synthesisers, guitar effects pedals, sound design tools or even kinetic sculptures.
The workshop is part of Into The Wild, an event which showcases nine projects developed during Makerversity’s MV Works, an experimental programme which supports creative practitioners working with technology. Bela is one of the projects which has been developed on the programme by Liam Donovan, a member of the Bela development team. Access to the event is free.
Bela was created in the Augmented Instruments Laboratory, part of the Centre for Digital Music at Queen Mary University of London. The platform is open-source hardware and software. In March 2016, Bela had a highly successful Kickstarter launch, raising more than 10x its original goal with support from over 500 backers worldwide.
This workshop will provide a hands-on introduction to the Bela environment, working through a series of example projects in C and Pure Data which showcase some of the exciting possibilities Bela makes easy. There will then be a hacking session, in which participants are free to build or work on whatever projects they like using the Bela environment with assistance from the Bela team. Each participant will be provided with a kit to use, including a Bela board, a breadboard, sensors and other parts.
What to bring: laptop (any platform); headphones; optional: personal hacking gear (e.g. sensors, custom circuitry, sound producing devices).
Platform tech specs: Bela features stereo audio in and out (16-bit, 44.1kHz), 8x analog in and out (16-bit, 22.05kHz; 4 channels can be used at 44.1kHz) and digital in and out (16 channels, 3.3V). Stereo audio output is capable of driving line, headphone or 8 ohm speakers (1.1W amplifiers built in). Round-trip latency can be as low as 100 microseconds. Sensors and audio are sampled synchronously to eliminate jitter. The BeagleBone Black on which Bela is based has a 1GHz ARM Cortex-A8 processor with 512MB of RAM.