How about this for a challenge in offtopic?
Make a synth layout. Assume a desktop or rack synth, to be note/PB/mod/etc.-controlled via MIDI. The layout however should form the synth model, so you can't do like a JV1010: a few buttons and program via MIDI..
- 12 knobs, bumped for exact positions, may have LED positions like the Nord Lead 3
- 4 buttons, controlling 4 on/off LEDs (the buttons them self don't stay in position). You may also use light emitting buttons, by the way.
- Synthmodel (FM, analogue, VA, samples, PM etc.) is free to choose.
- polyphony/multitimbrality is free to choose
- A knob may only be 1 type of parameter, but you may have arrays of parameters to control, by for instance having another knob defining the array. So, for instance, knob 7 may only be a filter cutoff, but if you have more than 1 filter, you can use knob 7 to control the cutoff freqs of other filters as well, given you have an array knob to select the other filter of course. Simply put: just assume you're labeling this knob's function with ink..
- You may decorate your panel with colors, lines, text, tables etc.
- You get a knob and a button for free: a volume knob and a power switch
- You get a 3-digit LCD display for free, showing numbers 0..127 for your presets
- You get an endless knob next to the LCD display for free to browse through your presets
- You get two pushbuttons for free next to the LCD display to store a sound and to copy all parameters (to paste it for instance into another preset)
- You get a 3-digit parameter LCD display for free to show knob positions (what it displays changes when you twist another knob), this is actually a bonus with regards to the possible NL3-style led-knobs you may already use. Sometimes you just need to see a value instead of an angle.
So, with 12 knobs and 4 buttons, let's see what you can make! The most advanced/flexible synth and/or the most usable design should eventually win (poll?)
Do note that apart from the mentioned rules, there are no rules, you may do a simple fixed synth, a modular (think of mod matrix!), anything. A knob or button may be LFO stuff, envelope stuff, oscillators, effects, you name it. As long as you keep the 5th rule in mind (knob/button type). You could for instance have knob 4 be a modulation source, and internally have a huge list of sources (more than you have controls for!). As long as knob 4 remains a mod.source, it's all ok.
Furthermore, assume any processing power you need. You want 64 voices? 16 part multitimbral? 8 DSPs? 128MB sample ROM? You get 'em, the trick is how to fit them into these 12 knobs and 4 buttons while still keeping a synth which doesn't require John Chowning to operate it!
Also note, imagine this would be a real synth, think of how you want to work with it. You can make it very complex, but would that be how you want it to work?
I've included a modest fixed-synth example (quick 'n dirty photoshop mock up), just to point out the idea a bit. The darker area are the 12 knobs and 4 buttons, the rest are the given standard controllers for volume, power and preset management.
Do note that my layout is just an example, yours may be completely different, with some knobs grouped on islands instead of just everything together in a 4x3 grid. Buttons could be placed everywhere and between knobs. Use your imagination!