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Max MSP and Arduino

Aug 31 2010 | 6:11 pm


I’m working on a project and I just learned that I will need to use Arduino for the sensors.

My project is going to involve a band playing and people jumping and sitting around on a piece of furniture and the way which they sit or move will do sound manipulation.

Can you recommend some places to help me get started and understand Arduino and sensors more?

Anything in Greek would also be VERY helpful.


Aug 31 2010 | 6:31 pm

You don’t say what your country of residence is, so i can’t really advise you on where/how to get hardware, but popular/common motion and presence sensors are: infrared range and PIR motion sensors; linear position and force sensors. See here for examples:

All such examples suit smaller scale projects; for physically larger installations you may need to explore video tracking (not my area I’m afraid).

For the specifics of interfacing an Arduino with MaxMSP look here:
and the Arduino Notebook (Evans) is a great introduction to Arduino programming;

and some general texts (In English I’m afraid)
Physical Computing (O’Sullivan/Igoe); p.177 refers to the Max serial object
Programming Interactivity (Noble)

Arguably one of the most concise and accessible tutorials on Arduino, sensors, and basic DIY electronics is ladyada, here:

Good luck

Aug 31 2010 | 6:38 pm

Wow, thanks!

What programs or other hardware would I need in order to use the sensors here: ??

thanks for the detailed response, brendan.

Aug 31 2010 | 7:00 pm

your sensor (there were several on the page you linked) will commonly need a voltage in (from the Arduino, usually 5v) and a ground, and Vref or Vcc etc, which is your analog voltage out (the data you want to read). You will hook up your sensor to the Arduino, whose microcontroller has been programmed with some simple code to read that data and send it across the serial port (most Arduinos have a serial-to-USB convertor). That code will either come from the examples that come with the Arduino, which also has its own IDE or intergrated development environment, or to you and I, coding and compiling software, or the code will come from the ladyayda tutorials or wherever, you just have to find the right one, adapt and learn it and then upload it to the microcontroller. THEN you need a MaxMSP patch, which will use the [serial] object to ‘listen’ to the serial port on your computer for the digital data which represents whatever the sensor is, erm, sensing. If you need to do this in a hurry and with little knowledge, you may fail many times due to simple errors, my advice is to start very simple (light an LED = "Hello World") and build from there. Check the Arduino forum too.

Keep us posted on your progress please

Aug 31 2010 | 7:35 pm

Yeah, Arduino playground is fantastic, lots of code and tutorials.

If you want a shortcut then check out Maxuino, its a combination of Arduino code and a Max patch that helps you read and write to the pins.

Aug 31 2010 | 7:50 pm

And SARCDuino is another self-contained program, from my old friends at SARC in Belfast

Aug 31 2010 | 8:11 pm

Cool, didn’t know about that, looks good.

Sep 01 2010 | 2:05 pm

wow, so it looks like I have a lot more to learn than I thought.

i’ll keep you all posted…


Sep 01 2010 | 11:31 pm

why would you need to specifically use an arduino?
There was a MIDI sofa that emerged about 5 years ago:
– it used the midibox platform which might be a helluva lot easier to implement, esp. for a newbie.

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Forums > MaxMSP