Old non-varibright grids

hey fellas,
I‘m wondering if my beloved grid became obsolete in times of vari-brightness and norns etc…? I didn‘t really stay in touch with newer monome-technologies and I always just have used mlr and re:mix for my needs and shows, so I‘m not sure about the options I have nowadays… I was thinking about expanding old and exploring new territories with the grid, but it feels like being stuck within old apps and software…

Which really made me think was this video: Moog Sirin | Analog Messenger of Joy - YouTube
could i even do something like this with my „old“ grid? nowadays all I see are those 128 vari-bright grids working with everything, haha

I‘m currently working with elektron‘s digitone, octatrack and machinedrum, which all runs into ableton live… I‘d love to include the grid in this setup somehow… (ideally would love to get rid of the computer)

what about an old 256 grid + norns? does it even work?

any ideas, thoughts, suggestions to give my grid the love it still deserves in 2019?



I guess this mostly depends on if you want to get your hands dirty or not.

If you want to just use ready made stuff, then it seems to me that most stuff are being developed for the varibright grids.

If you are ready to start making stuff yourself then the 256 is amazing! Myself I am all non-varibright and happy about it.

A suggestion if you want to get rid of the (traditional) computer is to pair your grid up with something like either a Critter & Guitari Organelle, or a Raspberry Pi with Pisound. Then you can program patches in PD to do stuff like sequencing, sampling etc. And sync it up with your other gear.

In the video it looks like the grid is functioning mostly like a controller/keyboard. That could certainly be done with the setup I just described :slight_smile:


Nope, they’re totally redundant now. Worthless. I’ll take it off your hands just to do you a favour :slight_smile:

I think there are still loads of uses for them - mlr/re:mix on a 256 would still be fantastic; polygome was always great on a 256; even just as a clip launcher for Live it would be super useful.

will it make you sound like @madeofoak? unfortunately only he has that talent.

On norns - i don’t think the full 256 works with it but it’s probably something that could change.


I use a 256 with norns. Some scripts hardcode a grid size but it’s usually trivial to change. Other scripts already work without change.


to clarify for the less monome-fluent, the communication standard that grids have used since 2006 hasn’t changed really - it was all designed from the beginning with backwards compatibility which is beautiful. The only relevant addition was the move from 2 to 4 to 16 led brightness levels, so if you have an older grid you might just loose the “darker” parts of the interface but you can still interact with everything.

so in summary no grids will ever go obsolete. the sad thing is that a chunk of the old programs on (traditional) computers has gone obsolete because of macOS not being backwards compatible, and not everything gets maintained. that’s part of why norns is a thing now .

in terms of new things - a lot is happening in places like euro and norns in part b/c of aforementioned thing. @madeofoak I believe was using euro modules in that video. in terms of normal computers though gridlab in m4l is still getting new stuff and I’m finalizing some ideas for grid compositional environments in pure max. the pd folks are doing stuff still too.


256 hardware support right now, as I understand/experience it (via a varibright 2012 edition)
Norns: yes, but not all scripts use full grid
Earthsea: yes
Meadowphysics: yes (branch)
Ansible/Earthsea: yes
Ansible/Meadowphysics: ?
Ansible/Kria: yes (branch)
White Whale: yes (branch)
White Whale/Kria: no
White Whale/Orca: yes
Teletype 3.0: yes

In terms of modern software, Mark Eats Sequencer is great on 256, and most of the old Max apps work (some serialosc updating perhaps necesssry.)


I haven’t tried recently, but that used to be extremely false.

Like, if I made a patch which used nothing but brightness levels 0 and 15, you’d expect that to be 100% backwards compatible. But, it was only 50% backwards compatible. (Specifically, the “brightness at zero” half worked as expected.)

Again, possible that’s changed in the intervening years.

That was with max/msp, mind you.

The modular stuff, I believe Brian programmed support for older grids.

Norns, nobody has.

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would be nifty have some clarity on that - I use a 4-level grid from 2011 for all my development but I forgot that there are separate messages in the osc spec for led brightness that I assume were added around then. not really sure how non-vari grids reacted to those.

if they don’t it would be really easy to add backwards compatibility in any software/api. could be a nifty thing for norns

Well, the difficulty is that some apps encode meaning for more than two possibilities per light. Varibright becomes a requirement for these apps. But of course there is nothing about norns that prevents people from designing monobright compatible scripts. It’s just a design choice on the part of the scripter.

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There was talk of adding support into serialosc to make led/level messages above a certain threshold translate to old led messages. Not sure if that went through though, I think they are just ignored.

I’d test it, but my 256 is disassembled on my desk. I’m nearing completion of a project that’ll make this thread obsolete. I’ve said too much…


Oooh. Vari right conversion? Will this apply to all non-varibright grid sizes?


It’s always going to be a compromise. 2 values != 4 or 16 values. Some things will auto-translate better than others.

thank you so much for your responses, guys!
will definitely dive into it asap… glad to hear, that there are still so many possibilities :slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

you are good people.

and @declutter: you will never get my grid, hahaha :wink: even if it gets obsolete one day, i love this thing way too much to give it away.

peace to @madeofoak as well for the inspiring video!


thanks! and yes, I’m using the earthsea module in the video (and off camera I recorded the fluttery parts with ansible running kria) but you can totally do the same thing with any grid application that just transmits midi notes which would be even better on a 256 with the extra room.


As a monobright user, I am intrigued.

20 characters of me too


I will make a thread about this when I’m ready to.

Essentially a replacement for MAX7219 (led driver in 40h, series, gs grids) and a new firmware for the monome logic board to drive it.


Exciting news. I look forward to further details as and when they are ready!

it did, varibright translation currently happens in serialosc (actually, libmonome) - levels above 7 are converted to 1 :slight_smile:


how you manage to get earthsea controlling the moog?
grid -> modular earthsea -> cv interface -> moog ?