shop update updates & summer hiatus

heres a short update about whats been happening and whats coming up here at

summer hiatus

i have decided to effectively close the shop for 2-3 months over the summer here in new zealand starting from monday 27th november. i will be on and off the road for festival work and holidays plus moving out of my studio (and home) to relocate to melbourne.

there wont be any underscores releases or restocks during this time but for any remaining stock it will still be possible to place an order with the understanding that your items will ship by end of feburary 2024 at the latest – i will update here and on the mailing list when we get restocked and settled on the other side.

plans and projects for the new year

once we are settled and im back working in a studio space again i have a lot of projects i want to finish and share with you. heres a few of them:

works in progress

im also planning a monthly series of online talks hosted by where i share and discuss various works in progress from behind the scenes at

as you may have noticed by the sporadic updates, teasers and ideas thrown around here and elsewhere online, im much better at starting new projects than i am at following though, finishing and sharing current ones. im also not that comfortable with sharing too much about upcoming things publicly since it makes me feel bad when i cant meet the self-imposed deadlines or end up shelving them because i get overwhelmed. i want to get better at sharing the process and allowing room for feedback and discussions in these stages though. hopefully this informal format will help with this – would be nice to see you there!


recurBOY update

since the underscores soft-launch there has been a few updates to the recurBOY project:

hardware update

the recurBOY circuit depends on more harder-to-source components than others in the underscores catalog. This is because it was originally designed only to be built together in group soldering sessions – where we would source all the parts for the workshop beforehand.

Now that it is a fully open diy project (with some people sourcing the parts for themselves) I have updated the build guide with more information about selecting these parts

recurBOY uses a 1.8 inch tft display (ST7735S) in a form-factor commonly found on ebay/amazon/aliexpress – unfortunately this is not compatible with the waveshare version – who i have found to be a reliable supplier of display hardware in the past (perhaps a future hardware revision should somehow allow this version of the display to be used also ?)

a bunch of screens to test

based on some feedback from users + my own exploration of testing these displays, I found that some of them were not working on the recurBOY r0.6 pcb. However when i tested the same (faulty?) displays with pin-jumpers wired to the pi directly they would always work!?

A laborious process of trial and error discovered that in particular the SDA pin ie SPI data input between screen and rpi was the problem – soldering a floating wire to this was enough to consistently fix this issue across all the “faulty” screens i tested.

the DISPLAY_SDA trace between PIN38 on pi and PIN5 on display is the problem!

I couldnt really see any difference to the signal before and after this “fix” on the scope, but my best guess is that the trace on the pcb is a bit too weak for some screens to read it.

example of part of the SPI message on SDA pin

I updated the pcb to make this trace much bolder – bumping circuit from v0_6 to v0_7_1 (v0_7_0 fixed it also but accidentally broke a trace on the rca out – whoops) and now every screen that I have tested works

same schematic -> different pcb !

all of this could have been avoided if we had selected a more reliable part from a reputable supplier – however this could incur also a large increase in price for the project + ( potentially ) more difficulty for diy-er to source in small batches.

for as long as we design with hacky parts occasionally we will need to make hacky updates – and i stand by this decision !

open projects have the flexibility to adapt to their changing surroundings and this is a good example of that!

software update

recurBOY was designed to distill some of the best parts of a r_e_c_u_r video sampler while running on cheaper hardware (a rpi_zero) and keeping the interface simple.

one feature of r_e_c_u_r that i use often and miss with my recurBOY is processing live-video feed (eg from a camera or another video-synth)

processing live input

running input from a piCamera over csi into recurBOY proved to be too much for the pi_zero to handle. To my surprise however it could seem to handle input from a usb-video device like EasyCap capture cards

i cant guarantee it will work with any usb-video-input , but now if recurBOY detects a device on startup you will get access to a third source mode that allows you to preview that input and apply effects to it !

self-portraits w recurBOY digitial effects !

img file & other updates

you can download new image file and see the full list of changes on the v2.1.0 release page but in short, a few of the other ‘quick wins’ i also added in this release:

  • usb_midi support – including independent shaderParam and effectParam controls
  • sampler mode now plays images – jpeg/jpg, png & gif (single image only) supported
  • output sd over hdmi – defaults to 640×480 and seems to handle this without lag

please let me know if you have any issues or find bugs in this release – it has only been tested by me so far (i will keep old image up too if you need the stability)

when looking for things to update i rely on the issue tracker on github – no promises but putting your suggestions here is the best way to have them noticed!