Drone Machines are open source, industrial strength machines, made for hands on control of software and hardware. The original idea sprang from a desire to create live electronic music, where physical interaction with tools and mechanisms would directly control the sounds. The performance, quality of materials, and components used to fabricate these machines are as important as the sound itself. Drone Machines forge a connection with material and mechanical motion creating a human/machine interface for your audience to experience.

Built of components ranging from robotics and automation industries to older hand tools and musical instruments, these machines are meant to carry great weight and potential, directly in the face of disposable culture; the antithesis of cheap. 

Designed and conceptualized from the mind of Tristan Shone, AKA Author & Punisher, Drone Machines are created from parts more likely to be found in an old machine shop or in an electron microscope than any gear store you will find. We are working very hard to bring the best feel, performance, and durability to the devices.

Open Source-

Our machines are highly customizable with respect to material selection, dynamic properties, I/O and electronic/software configuration. These devices are intended to require maintenance: they should be oiled, cleaned, upgraded, repaired, and cared for like any other high end machinery or instrumentation. The addition of a community driven forum to share information like: use cases, source code, software patches, and hardware configurations will further aide in usability.

This is the essence of man/machine interface. The materials, the construction, the open nature of the firmware, all call out for these machines
to be your instruments, and you can customize them so they fit your needs and uses. You can set up your Drone Machine to behave in a myriad of manners, but it will always have the same level of high quality craftsmanship that begs to be handled.


Each DM model is over-built to endure the rigors of the road. From over 15 years of touring experience, Tristan has found a balance with these designs between rugged and portable. If you can’t check something on a plane without charges, it becomes impractical and unaffordable. Every tour is a journey and we have made these devices to be trusted physically from start to finish.

On Stage-

The connection and intimacy is not only felt by the performer. Your audience can actually see what you are doing with them, as they do with musicians playing traditional instruments. The machines as well as the customized racking we are developing, are designed to allow the physical interactions to be seen from all sides.


Highlighted Features:

  • Multi-lingual with built in connectivity for digital and analog applications.
  • Can be used as MPE devices with multiple control signals and axis per unit.
  • MIDI on DIN jacks for your standard connection to synthesizers, samplers, and anything with a MIDI port.
  • MIDI and OSC over USB for direct connection to computers, tablets and phones.
  • A plethora of 3.5mm CV jacks for triggers, gates, and voltages on modular systems
  • Built-in Audio DSP so these devices are also synthesizers on their own with audio output jacks.

Other applications

  • robotic control
  • interactive kiosks
  • art installations
  • DMX lighting rigs

Drone Machines Beginnings

Tristan Shone, a mechanical engineer, musician, artist and founder of Drone Machines started his musical project Author & Punisher in 2004 while attending art school following a few years bouncing around as a mechanical engineer within the semiconductor industry in Boston, MA. In the metal shop at University of California, San Diego, he forged a relationship with design, sound and fabrication now unharnessed from the cubicle and clean rooms that were so suffocating, leading to an MFA. 

This 3 year period yielded his first 3 albums and mapped the journey away from traditional instrumentation, towards custom made, precision machinery called Drone Machines. The physical movements alone control all aspects of the sound with limbs struggling in unison to coordinate a wall of rhythm and oscillation emanating from machinery but organic and loose, void of sequencing and plastic perfection. 

He has now released 8 albums, the newest “Kruller” is out on Relapse Records. This album was composed and written on a new set of Drone Machines which are greatly influenced by a now 16 year parallel life as a mechanical engineer at the National Center for Microscopy and Imaging Research (NCMIR) at the University of California, San Diego. 


When the time came to start Drone Machines, Tristan joined forces with longtime friends Adam Reed-Erickson (senior product design engineer), Jason Begin (sound designer and composer, who co-produced the last A&P album as well as collaborated on other A&P tracks and albums), and Hanri Thayyil (software engineer who was brought in at the beginning of the newest collaboration with Arca).