Arc newbie, trouble getting started

I bought an arc second hand on Lines and have finally had time to sit down and try to learn use it. I believe it’s a contemporary Arc 4. It’s alumninum, doesn’t seem to have any sort of integrated button, and the colors are maybe warmish? I’m a super newb with Max.

I’m trying to: use arc to make sound of any sort. Not really knowing where to begin, I downloaded the Electric Dharma Wheels. I’ve done the following:

  1. Installed serialOSC on my Mac.
  2. Learned about the monome package manager installation thingie and installed the monome package.
  3. Found arc-test and run that, my Arc is recognized as m1100088 monome arc and when I turn the wheels a tiny bit the patch moves between 0 and 15 on the app and the rings light up/dim down to match. I can play with this fun light tool for at least 2 minutes with no problems and then I am ready to move on. I haven’t been able to crash anything while playing with and it is lovely.
  4. Installed Electric Dharma Wheels from Github link at monome docs page.

So far so good. Now is where I don’t know what I’m doing wrong exactly. Having installed stuff and tested to see that arc is showing up I think I’m ready to play with it:

  1. Launch edw.maxpat and select the arc in the dropdown.
  2. Turning the knobs changes whatever parameter is in the top of the blocks on the right, one for each channel. Seems probably right.
  3. Turn the patch on via the I/O button.
  4. At this point the arc lights start rotating and the patch makes noise. If I turn the wheels it behaves as expected I think, they speed up and slow down.
  5. This lasts for [edit] 10 seconds before the lights blink/begin behaving oddly and then go out.

Once I’ve reached this point the arc no longer controls anything in EDW.maxpat or arc-test.maxpat nor do any lights come on. The arc is still selectable in pulldowns but there is no indication on either the arc nor in any either of the patches that it is working.

At this point, if I unplug the arc from USB and plug it in again there’s a quick little burst lights in the corner where the plug is and I can start over again from the most recent 5 item list above.

I can keep unplugging and replugging but this, of course, isn’t very fun.

Any thoughts on what I am doing wrong?

I get that since I bought this second hand it’s a bummer to offer support for it. But if there’s a way I can ease that burden and get this working I’d appreciate it greatly.


Just as a quick troubleshooting step, try to make sure you only have one arc app / patch open at a time. I’ve found that having multiple things talking to the arc simultaneously ends in a bad time. (Might not be your issue but useful to get out of the way.)


Could be something with EDW. I don’t use a Mac or Max so unfortunately I can’t be of more concrete help, but you might be on to something by trying a simpler application.

1 Like

I’m actually working on a standalone cv program for arc, but it’ll be for jack audio on Linux so probably not very useful for you…

1 Like

If you run arc-howto.maxpat from the monome package and just revel in the #s for a while does it remain connected for longer then 10 seconds?

full disclosure, I’m an arc noob too and just asking stuff until the experts come about

1 Like

:point_up: ya what they said… also, when i look through edw, the basic messaging could be tested with this:


hook up your arc, select it from the menu in serialosc, then try the messages(or move your arc and see what’s output)

edit: if you get input and output, then your arc is probably fine(even the arc-howto patch working continuously will prove the arc is all good)… i don’t actually have an arc(don’t know what the messages are), but i’ve tested grids similarly

1 Like

oops, sorry, here’s a more commented version, at least until others in the know get here:


basically(after copying and pasting everything between ‘…code> <pre…’ tags into a blank Max patch), connect up your arc, and then select it from the serialosc menu in the middle there, and after connection you can try out the in/out-osc-messaging shown there.

the osc messages are explained more in detail here:

1 Like

Hey just so you aware, this is no problem…i’m glad you shared your question despite harboring some initial concerns.

We can try to help on the forum to see what’s up but eventually (if it turns out to be a mechanical issue) emailing monome hq might be wise.

It’s been a while since i used an arc with any of the max apps like edw, so i want to know whether you have anything else to test the device with:

  • ableton / m4l?
  • ansible?
  • norns?

Bear in mind that the test patches shared above should be perfectly suitable for checking if it works…i’m just curious what else ya got

1 Like

They just announced a 90 day free trial of Live 11.

From having checked out some of your music and website, I think you might love Max for Live!


never a concern :slight_smile:

i’m not seeing similar problems with Electric Dharma Wheels on my machine, but this might be a Max issue – are you running the latest version of Max (8.1.10)? are you also running the edw.maxpat from the folder you downloaded? the other files are dependencies, which need to be closeby. this EDW patch also hasn’t been updated in the last few years, so that might contribute to startup trouble.

as far as testing your hardware goes, this patch should be rock-solid: GitHub - monome-community/returns.

  • when it loads, you should see a bright indicator on each encoder
  • turning any should move the indicator
  • hold X on your keyboard, the LEDs will go out, turn an encoder to widen the LFO range
  • release X, hold Z on your keyboard and the encoders with LFO ranges will light up, turn any encoder to start animating the LFO
  • release Z and you’ll see the indicators moving on the encoders with active LFOs

Just saw @stretta added arc support to their awesome Texture Explorer standalone max patch… maybe try that out?


returns rules. I have nothing to add except for my love of returns… Actually I haven’t checked, but can returns work on the 14bit midi specturm to get even more of that fine fine fidelity? This isn’t the place to ask that question. Just got excited. Don’t mind me.


is this version different? GitHub - stretta/gridlab: A suite of maxforlive monome devices

you might try checking it out


Ok yeah I’m an idiot…you had mentioned earlier that you don’t have live yet. It’s a max 4 live patch

Yes please! Check this thread or dm @dan_derks for more info on how to help (unless you’ve got it!)

btw have you tried any of the arc apps for norns? i think something like mangl is an example of the pain-free plug and play experience most people would expect after getting one


that would be wicked appreciated. apologies for the rough start – we never intend for the docs to be opaque or incomplete, it’s just that the “plug it in and play” docs debt is always a balance of what folks are asking the most questions about and what has the most energy within the community at any given moment. it’s bothered me for a while that especially outside of the context of ansible or norns, orienting to arc is a relic of the “wild west” days of docs – norns has just consumed a lot of my own cycles. we’re also working to migrate the docs to a brand new wiki platform, which will reduce friction w/r/t contributions.

all to say, thank you for the patience and great questions! please feel free to DM if you want assistance with the content – i’m also happy to merge the content in, if you want to author without going through the github rigamarole.

(also, dang, we gotta make it easier to develop arc-centric scripts for norns – i will tackle this soon)


The arc is a device that just makes me so happy, and I am excited for any chance for folks to better build apps. I have put all programming education behind me to dedicate to family, music making and work/personal fitness and would love any tool set that could allow users to further extend what the arc does. It’s beautiful and one of the most transcendent pieces of music gear. Thanks for keeping the docs and programming alive, friends!

I will be returning to Lua and Max in the future and am excited for whatever simplification layers might exist in the future


awesome, that would be incredible, thank you!! your writing via Thoughtfaucet is super appreciated :revolving_hearts:


we’re starting to consider information architecture and a learner’s orientation within the docs much more heavily, which is a worthwhile trade-off for a bit more scaffolding. some of it can be achieved with CSS, but we’ve found wiki.js is useful for presenting sort of a massive amount of learning content without overwhelming:



Beautiful, this is wonderful news!!! Thanks Dan!