Watch a DJ control a Tesla coil with his turntable.

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It doesn’t get much better than the world renowned DJ Qbert scratching insanely fast, except when every scratch is not just expressed as sound, but also sparks off of a tesla coil. That’s exactly what took place during Maker Faire Bay Area when DJ Qbert took to the stage to close the event.

Turntables are instruments in their own right. That’s a lesson I learned thanks to DJs Qbert, YogaFrog, and Hard Rich, all members of Thud Rumble this past weekend at Maker Faire Bay Area. The group, founded in 1996 by Qbert and Yogafrog, is made up of long-time Bay Area natives who are striving to take the art of scratching beyond what anyone thought physically possible.

To be sure, scratching is about a DJ’s manual dexterity, aural anatomy, and of course style. But it’s also about the electronics equipment that a DJ uses to help aid in the delivery of sound to the listeners.

These days, DJ performances require turntables, a mixer, and a laptop that holds audio files. Except for the move from vinyl to a laptop as the audio storage medium, little has fundamentally altered in a DJ’s workflow; however, laptops are not an ideal storage solution and are not optimized to match the speed and accuracy of master DJs like Qbert.

Not only is the laptop bulky, but it also introduces latency into the performance. While real-time operating systems (RTOS) exist for industrial applications, they have yet to take hold of the DJ scene.

Often DJs will seek to approximate real-time performance by adding additional RAM, reducing running processes in their OS, using solid state drives, and using high bandwidth connections such as Thunderbolt, but that only partially solves the problem. The crew at Thud Rumble teamed up with the Intel Edison crew to replace the laptop with the Edison.

While not much is public yet about how they’ve accomplished this feat, you can be sure that as soon as we know how they used Edison, we’ll share it with you.

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