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DIY Tagtool

Hankyong National University

Posted on October 29th, 2009 | By | Category: DIY Tagtools, Workshops

Recently, I had a really great opportunity drop into my lap. Reversing the time machine several months, I built a Tagtool Mini for a friend’s birthday. He owns an art gallery in Seoul, South Korea and is actively involved in performance-related tomfoolery both in the gallery and out, so he has had a few chances to showcase Tagtool performances alongside some other friends’ music.


As luck would have it, he is also a professor at a university just outside Seoul — Hankyong National University — teaching motion graphics and web design. In this capacity, about a month ago he brought his Tagtool Mini to the dean of the University and gave her a little presentation of the capabilities of the software and hardware, and suggested basing a class around it. She was very interested and asked me to build an initial order of 20 Tagtool Minis for the school.

The internals of the Tagtools are based on the schematic posted on, with Bourns 60mm slide potentiometers and a Big Red Button (!), in keeping with Tagtool tradition. I also included a small reset button, as it is sometimes necessary to reset the Tagtool after loading up a Nodekit patch. The case was based on the design I used for my friend’s original Mini, to be cut from metallic gold acrylic (BLING!) by laser. However, in light of the fact that I was going to be building all of the units by hand, I revamped the design so that no gluing would be needed during assembly. The case sides fit to the top and bottom panel via mortise and tenon joints and all is held together by standoffs and machine screws, the holes for which are all countersunk so that the screw heads don’t stick out. The Arduino is mounted to the bottom of the case with standoffs, and holes are cut in the rear panel for the USB and power jacks, and for the reset button.

The build went pretty smoothly, and after testing and ironing out a couple kinks, all the boxes worked perfectly. But, a word of caution to anyone else thinking about putting together more than two or three Tagtools in one go: you’ll have to strip and splice a huge spaghetti-mess of wires, which is most decidedly not fun. I suggest finding a friend with some form of OCD to do that part for you, so that you can instead concentrate on the most important part of the assembly project: accidentally burning yourself with a hot soldering iron.


Anyhow, the school is still amassing the other supplies necessary to get their Tagtool classes up and running, but you can be sure that I will prod my friend to post updates when things start to happen. Many thanks to the kind folks at OMA and all the helpful peeps who post on the Google Group for providing me with the info and software to make this project possible!

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1 Comment

  1. Dan says:

    Those are flash gordon style minis…love it!

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