System Theremino

Theremino is an Open Source, to connect computers with the real world. Applications range from music, teaching, scientific research. Unlike similar systems (eg Arduino), the system works just turned on, and does not require programming the firmware.

Theremino System - Musical instruments

The system Theremino not a card with micro programmable logic controller (like Arduino), but a device Input Output, as a Mouse.

The communication architecture is innovative. Different from any other similar system. The basic principles are explained on this page: contacts / Theremino-the-mission

The same user, even without knowing programming, can configure the modules, to measure physical quantities of each type: temperature, radiation, magnetic fields, earthquakes, pollution ... and to drive actuators, motors, LEDs and lamps, ovens, electronic valves, relays, robots, CNC machines, 3D printers, cutting machines and laser for engraving, etc ...

Theremino System Devices

The power of the Tablet PC and, combined with the flexibility of the modules of InOut, and to a whole ecosystem, of more than fifty applications, makes the system Theremino "different". The system Theremino, not a copy of Arduino. We would like to specify, because many have been deceived, the shape of the modules InOut. Which, admittedly, look like clones of Arduino.

Even the name Theremino, unfortunately, has inadvertently encouraged this misunderstanding. Many do not believe this, but it's true. When he was chosen the name, none of us was aware of the existence of the Arduino and the name refers only to Leon Theremin and the Input Output.

The system Theremino is also a container, for the exchange of ideas, including fans. As well as a catalog of sensors and actuators, a teaching aid, and a collection of technologies for the Input-Output, programming and electronics open source.

Purpose and philosophy of the system Theremino are teaching and collaboration. The goal is not to sell but to do good projects. The employees work only research and collectively contribute to the improvement of the system. The results are shared and must remain free, as specified in this page

Page index

To identify the specific matters, you should use the box "Search", located in the upper left. Then "Ctrl-F" on individual pages.

Theremino is similar (or compatible) with Arduino?

No, the two systems are very different.

Arduino is a "Single board micro-controller" that must be programmed, from time to time, with a bespoke firmware. If, for example, one wants to read a temperature, then you program the firmware to do so, if the temperatures are two, you change and reprogramming the firmware, to read two. Theremino is an "input-output device", such as a mouse or a printer. By connecting the modular units, it works immediately, without having to program its firmware.

The micro Arduino is an 8-bit, clocked at 16 MHz and 32 Kbytes of RAM (Note 1)
Micro Theremino is a 16-bit, clocked at 64 MHz and 64 Kbytes of RAM (Note 2)
But, beyond that, Theremino also leverages the power of the processor, and the math coprocessor PC. The total power combined, is about 1000 times greater.

Arduino communicates via USB, but transforms it into virtual serial, and is the processor itself, which must prepare the bits for the serial. This slows down the speed of communication with the PC. Theremino communicates via native USB and Micro Master has built two independent sections, one dealing with In-Out and the other is dedicated to USB communication. So the connection between PC and hardware is always fluid.

It is therefore advisable to use Arduino, to have a module that does it all.
It recommends instead Theremino, to harness the power of the PC (or tablet), and quickly communicate with the hardware.

(Note 1) There is a new version of Arduino, with improved features: 32-bit and 96 Kbytes of RAM. The new Arduino 2 costs about 45 Euro, including VAT. The compatibility with older versions, software and shield, is partial .
(Note 2) We are preparing the firmware for the new 32-bit micro, with 128K + 32K of memory. The user himself can replace it on the base, and it costs about 4 Euro from Mouser . The firmware will be open source and free, like all the rest of the system Theremino. Compatibility is total, not changing a line of software, and all InOut physical, remain exactly the same place. The abundant computing power, and the large amount of program memory, allowing you to implement new features in the coming years. The first upgrade will be the boot-loader, that allow you to do without the programmer (will update the firmware via USB).

Arduino clones

ArduinoDuemilanove, ArduinoDiecimila, ArduinoUno, ArduinoMega, ArduinoNano, ArduinoMini, ArduPilot, DIY-Duino, DuinoStamp, Duinomite, eauDuino, Freeduino, FreeduinoEpic, Funnel I / O, Hack The Badge, Illuminated Genesis, JeenodeWirelessFreeduino, Labjack, Lightuino, Netduino, Olimexino, PaperDuino, Phidgets, Photoduino, Penguin, ProtoDuino, R-duino, RoboDuino, Sanguino, SeeeDuino, Severino, Space-duino, StickDuino, uDuino, etc ...

They are all similar to each other, a micro-controller mounted on a printed circuit, with around some connectors for input / output. They are already many, because they propose a much more?

The best explanation was given by Stephen, a maker, who wrote: Clearly it always starts from Arduino, but soon I realized its limitations: it is a small computer with I / O that is programmed, but I want a BIG computer to add I / O!

What makes possible the operation "NO CODE"

Operation type PLC (programmable logic controller)
Since the "head" is the PC the most appropriate technical term is "Soft PLC".
The application HAL (Hardware Abstraction Layer) refreshes all inputs and outputs on a regular basis (normally 500 times per second) and normalizes the data, simplifying communication with the hardware.

Grouping of transducers in macro-categories
Digital Out
Out Servant
In Digital
In ADC - tension
Cap - electric capacity
In Res - electrical resistance
In Counters and frequency meters
In Periodimetri
In Ultrasound
In CapSensorsHQ - capacitive sensing distance

Hierarchical organization and modular
Software modules ... .. Applications high level. The brains behind the system.
Slots ........................ .. Communications between all system components.
HAL application ...... .. Communications between the software and the USB
Master modules ...... .. hardware modules, connected to the USB.
Slave modules ......... .. hardware modules, connected via serial DPM.
Pins ........................... Connectors Input / Output.
Adapters ................... Special adapters between the sensors and the Pin standard system Theremino.
Output transducers .. servomotors, sounds, videos, dimmers, controls on / off etc ..
Input transducers ... .. Light sensors, position, temperature, voltage, current, capacity etc ..

Communication between modules through the slot
Slots (interprocess communication) are the basis of the system Theremino and sets it apart from similar systems. With Slot not only modules but also hardware applications can communicate with each other.

Software and sign configurable and expandable in Open Source
Applications, available in open source, covering all common operations, the media, as measured by laboratory. New applications can be developed from Open Source code of the existing ones, as new bricks, to expand the possibilities of the system.

Modular hardware and software
Although applications can be added as modules, multiple applications can be configured to communicate with each other, and work together, without reprogramming.

Main features

The modularity of the software is a new concept. No system, until now, has never used the communication and modularity as the system Theremino.

In Theremino system, each application is only concerned with its specific functions, and most applications work together, to get the desired result. This allows to build complex systems, with simple brick.

With Theremino not have to be experienced programmers, to realize their ideas. Also artists, chemists, musicians, geologists, climatologists and students, can build what they need, combining the existing hardware and software modules.

The "Pin" of the system can be configured individually, with a large number of pre-programmed functions, which can meet any input-output.

You can connect sensors and assign new functions to the pins of In-Out, even during operation. You can add modules, and set them up in a few seconds. The modules are automatically recognized, and communicate with each other through a single-wire serial line. Each line supports up to 200 modules and each module a ten pin. The total number of InOut is virtually unlimited, and they can communicate with each other, or with other applications via HAL (Hardware Abstraction Layer) and Slots (interprocess communication). The modules can communicate with each other, up to kilometers, serial line, at great distances on wires and on the web. The usable operating systems are Windows, Unix, Linux, Mac OSX and Android.

The simplicity, small size and low cost of the modules, do not reduce performance, quite the contrary. The simplicity makes the system very robust, and the performance is such, they can refresh all InOut simultaneously, so fluid (up to 500..1000 times per second).

Portable Applications

System applications Theremino are portable. Copied to an external memory and bring on another PC, will resume work exactly the way they had come. You can also duplicate, in several separate folders, and make them work together, with separate parameters, without interfering with each other.

This also means that the computer is not altered (note 1). That does not install anything in the system, do not install Drivers, you do not write in the "Registry", and do not use data-base in common. Applications "thereminiche" do not change anything, out of their folders. More information on this page .

In Theremino system, applications do not have a fixed address (a folder type "Programs / Theremino"), but can move without having to "register" their new address, at a centralized unit. Slots are the only point of contact between applications, a kind of post boxes.

The Theremino HAL was originally designed as a driver, had a single database, common to all applications, and issued its icon in the status bar, near the clock. But we checked out early, that this made it dark, and opaque, its operation. Anyone with a modicum of familiarity with the problems of the driver, can attest. For further confirmation, look on YouTube "Drivers Nightmare": here is an example , and also other examples .

(Note 1) The basic principle, not to alter the operating system, it is applicable only on Windows. Other operating settle (Linux, MacOSX and Android), demand the installation of drivers and software. According to our principles, this is a mistake, a complication for users, and a potential source of insecurity. In such systems, users are continuously required, keywords and approvals. But users can not detect malicious software, so they get used to approve everything. Applications become more complex every year, and the human control, is no longer able to understand what they really do. It must be the operating system itself, to act as anti-virus, with an integrated anti-virus and free from temptations.

Because modules look so easy?

Click on images to enlarge.

The system modules Theremino (while being very flexible and configurable), are designed with low-tech and few components.

The current technology, would allow to construct PCBs, with isolations of a few tenths and slopes microscopic. It would be easy to redo our modules, with these techniques. By allowing you to add, a few dozen non-essential components, we could facilitate the design and cost less to produce them. The manufacturers would be happier and appearance would best satisfy lovers of miniaturization at all costs.

But there are good reasons to design your forms-style slow-food thereminico, low-tech, with insulation exaggerated, wide trails and single-sided PCB:

  1. Increase the reliability even in the presence of moisture.
  2. Being able to do without the protective coating (called "Solder").
  3. Not impose stringent manufacturing tolerances and also allow the construction of a thousand holes plates or gravure (without metallized holes).
  4. Allow the construction of the PCB with the cutter (minimum insulation around 0.8 mm, single-sided and no-holes).
  5. Allow easier removal components, substitutes, changes and experiment without ruining the PCB (pitches and diameter holes plentiful).
  6. Use only connectors simple stripes to 2.54, which all have in the drawer, or easily recycled from old equipment.
  7. Do not overdo the miniaturization. Our modules are already quite small, some have written that are too small. Overdo it difficult to hold.
  8. Keep to a minimum the environmental impact (minimum number of components and smaller PCB and single-sided, without metallization)

There are many systems with micro USB, micro connectors unobtainable and a disproportionate number of components, almost touching each other. Here are some examples (click on the images):

Master Module - Phidgets Master Module - Tinkerforge Master Module - OpenPicus

But the system Theremino wants to meet the real-makers. Make plans with incredible performance, but using only four components. And allow, as far as possible, the self-building, even to those who do not have high technology. At the limit, even with the Dremel "free-hand", as in the following example:

Theremini System - DIY PCB - Free Hand made with Dremel Theremini System - DIY PCB - Free Hand made with Dremel
Thank Marco Vitangeli for this wonderful example.

For tips on how to equip and settle easily SMD components, read this page: technical / tables-and-notes

Getting the system modules

The team system Theremino deals only with research and does not sell hardware. The system is completely "Freeware", "Open Source", "No Profit" and "DIY", but there are manufacturers who can deliver the modules assembled and tested at a great price. One could hardly self-build them spending less. A list of manufacturers in this page: www.theremino.com/contacts/producers


The source code of our programs does not contain copyright notices, names of authors and link to our site, so you can make any use, without restriction of any kind. We do not ask you to specify the original source or our website but if you are happy with our software remember us and make known this site to your friends. Any donations, however small, are very welcome and can help keep the software "free" and to produce again and again.

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