Scratchboxes are conceptual midi controllers for DJ software that simulate the haptics of scratching a record on a vinyl turntable

The Haptics of Scratching

When you place your hand on a spinning record and pull the record back you hear a scratch. Combine this with precisely timed quick cuts in sound output and you get what DJs call "scratching". Its the "wicky-wicky" sound that's synonymous with hip hop. While most of the DJing world has moved past vinyl to digital alternatives, scratch DJ specialists are still using turntables from the 1970s. The major reason for this is the haptic feedback these old models provide. The way the record pulls on and slides beneath your fingers actually helps the DJ to manipulate the music in a more precise way.

Duration:  1 Week
Instructors:   Bill Verplank  &   David Gauthier
Role:  Concept, Prototyping, Photography

This controller mimics the haptics provided by analog turntables by combining a motorized slider, like those found in mixing boards, with a capacitive touch sensitive control surface. When your finger makes contact with the surface, the DJ software receives a MIDI signal to pause the record. As you pull back, the audio of the track reverses and the motors in the slider apply resistance similar to that of a vinyl turntable.


This secondary controller allows you to quickly cut the volume of the music in and out. It’s built using a hacked hard disk drive with the moving actuator arm acting as a volume slide. The adjustable electro magnets in the drive give you the ability to dial in just the right amount of resistance to make quick accurate cuts.

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