Posts with «synthesizer» label

Touchscreen Makes For A Neat Wavetable Synth

A popular tool in chiptune software like LSDJ allows the user to draw a waveform and use it as the basis for a wavetable synth. It’s fun and it can produce some great bleeps and bloops. [Kevin] has created a similar tool using an Arduino and a touchscreen.

You can draw the waveform! That’s neat.

The build is based on the Arduino Uno, the humble mainstay of the Arduino line. It’s hooked up to an ILI9488 color touchscreen display, which acts as the primary user interface. Using a stylus, or presumably a finger, the user can draw directly on the screen to specify the desired waveform for the synth to produce. The Arduino reads the step-by-step amplitude values of the drawn waveform and uses them to synthesize audio according to MIDI messages received over its serial port. Audio output is via PWM, as is common in low-cost microcontroller projects.

It’s a fun build and we’re sure [Kevin] learned plenty about wavetable synthesis along the way. We’ve seen his work on other Arduino synthesis projects before, too! Video after the break.

Homebrew Grain Synth Has A Rad Step Sequencer

In the world of homebrew synthesizers, there are plenty of noiseboxes and grooveboxes that make all kinds of wacky and wild noises. However, common projects like the Auduino and Atari Punk Console are often limited in that they can’t readily be programmed to play multiple notes or any sort of discernable rhythm. [Nick Poole] changes this with his Auduino step sequencer build.

The build takes the Auduino grain synthesizer, and modifies it by adding a step sequencer. This is possible as the Auduino code, which runs on the old-school ATMEGA-based Arduinos, is incredibly fast, leaving plenty of processing time for extra features to be added. [Nick] adds eight LEDs and eight buttons to the build, allowing the user to select one of eight steps to modify. Then, the sound parameters for the step can be altered with the standard Auduino controls. This lets the user quickly and easily build up 8-step melodies, something that was previously impossible with the Auduino.

It’s a fun build, and one that makes a great intro into the world of DIY synth builds. The techniques learned here will serve any aspiring maker well if they dive further into the world of modular synthesis and associated arcana. Video after the break.

 

Auduino software synth

Hack a Day 19 Mar 19:30

He’s the Operator of His Pocket Arduino

The band Kraftwerk hit the music scene with its unique electronic sound in the 70s in Germany, opening the door for the electronic music revolution of the following decade. If you’re not familiar with the band, they often had songs with a technology theme as well, and thanks to modern microcontroller technology it’s possible to replicate the Kraftwerk sound with microcontrollers as [Steven] aka [Marquis de Geek] demonstrates in his melodic build.

While the music is played on a Stylophone and a Korg synthesizer, it is fed through five separate Arduinos, four of which have various synths and looping samplers installed on them (and presumably represent each of the four members of Kraftwerk). Samplers like this allow pieces of music to be repeated continuously once recorded, which means that [Steven] can play entire songs on his own. The fifth Arduino functions as a controller, handling MIDI and pattern sequencing over I2C, and everything is finally channeled through a homemade mixer.

[Marquis] also dressed in Kraftwerk-appropriate attire for the video demonstration below, which really sells the tribute to the famous and groundbreaking band. While it’s a great build in its own right and is a great recreation of the Kraftwerk sound, we can think of one more way to really put this project over the top — a Kraftwerk-inspired LED tie.

The ZT-2020 is a portable SunVox synth

SunVox synth software allows you to create electronic music on a wide variety of platforms. Now, with his ZT-2020 project — which resembles a miniature arcade game — YouTuber “fascinating earthbound objects” has a dedicated input scheme.

This cabinet prominently features a wide array of buttons, a directional input from a PlayStation controller, and 16 potentiometer knobs. There’s also a screen on top for video output. 

Inside a Raspberry Pi runs SunVox, while most of the buttons and all of the input knobs are connected to an Arduino Mega. The Mega plays the role of MIDI controller as well, passing digital music info along to produce beautiful electronic music!

Arduino Blog 11 Feb 19:41

Wearable synth plays programmed or random tunes

Unless you’re very good, personal synths are fun for you — though often quite annoying for onlookers. After making his own wristwatch-based synth in 2016, Clem Mayer decided to build a new version that’s larger and louder than ever, and programmable via an Arduino controller.

Mayer chose the MKR WiFi 1010 here to take advantage of its LiPo charging abilities. This enables the device to be entirely self-contained in its custom housing, with a variety of switches and sliders for an interface. 

Users can program their own “tune” to be played back, or even take advantage of a random sequence generated on startup, then modify the sound as it plays live.

Bitty is a tiny Arduino-compatible drum machine/synth

There are a wide variety of ways to create electronic music. For a capable machine that fits in the palm of your hand and is loud enough to use outdoors, however, it’s hard to imagine a battery-powered device cooler than Bitty from Curious Sound Objects. 

The pocket-sized drum machine and synthesizer, currently on Kickstarter, was prototyped using an Arduino Nano and will be fully Arduino-compatible when released. This means that in addition to changing the sound and interface around with readily-available sound packs—which include Theremin Bitty, Techno Bitty, Basement Bitty, Trap Bitty, Lofi Bitty, and Beach Bitty—it can be programmed with the Arduino IDE. The device can even run sound software written for other Arduino boards.

Bitty features four sample trigger buttons, a pair of knobs, and a speaker. Designed for entry-level EDM enthusiasts and studio musicians alike, you can play the drums and melodies manually, as well as trigger patterns to produce dance music or hip hop beats. These can be chosen via the left knob, while the right knob handles pitch, note selection, and arpeggiation.

Check it out in action below!


Synthbike Rolls To The Beat

Modular synthesizers are some of the ultimate creative tools for the electronic musician. By experimenting with patch leads, knobs and switches, all manner of rhythmic madness can be conjured out of the æther. While they may overflow with creative potential, modular synths tend to fall down in portability. Typically built into studio racks and composed of many disparate modules, it’s not the sort of thing you can just take down the skate park for a jam session. If only there was a solution – enter the madness that is Synth Bike.

Synth Bike, here seen in the 2.0 revision, impresses from the get go, being built upon a sturdy Raleigh Chopper chassis. The way we see it, if you’re going to build a synth into a bicycle, why not do it with some style? From there, the build ratchets up in intensity. There’s a series of sequencer modules, most of which run individual Arduino Nanos. These get their clock from either a master source, an external jack, or from a magnetic sensor which picks up the rotation of the front wheel. Your pace dictates the tempo, so you’ll want to work those calves for extended raves at the park.

The features don’t stop there – there are drums courtesy of a SparkFun WAV Trigger, an arcade button keyboard, and a filter board running the venerable PT2399 digital delay chip. It’s all assembled on a series of panels with wires going everywhere, just like a true modular should be.

The best thing is, despite the perplexing controls and arcane interface, it actually puts out some hot tunes. It’s  not the first modular we’ve seen around these parts, either.

 

The Orbitalochka is a solar-powered satellite synth

This model satellite is both strange and mesmerizing with folding solar panels and a FM transmitter.

Media artist Dmitry Morozov, aka ::vtol::, is back with his latest kinetic sound object, this one resembling a satellite. The Orbitalochka hangs from the ceiling and broadcasts sound via an FM transmitter and a built-in speaker. These noises are based on the position of the satellite in space, and it can even transmit a pre-recorded lecture by Sergev Kasich, who appears to reside in the satellite’s clear bubble.

::vtol:: bases the sound signals on the generative sound processes created with Patchblocks, a modular mini-synth kit. The signals also react to a light intensity sensor, which responds to how the satellite’s position in space changes.

This happens due to mass redistribution as the solar cell changes location. The solar cells operate as sensors and produce CV (control voltage) to change sound program parameters.

Aside from its unusual sounds, what is really interesting about this synthesizer are the solar panels, which autonomously move around via four servo motors. The Orbitalochka is equipped with an Arduino Nano as well.

You can see the apparatus in action below, and read all about it on ::vtol::’s page here.

(Photos: ::vtol::)

Autonomous Musical Soundscapes from 42 Fans and 7 Lasers

[dmitry] writes in to let us know about a new project that combines lasers with fans and turns the resulting modulation of the light beams into an autonomous soundscape. The piece is called “divider” and is a large, wall-mounted set of rails upon which seven red lasers are mounted on one end with seven matching light sensors mounted on the other end. Interrupting the lasers’ paths are forty-two brushless fans. Four Arduino Megas control the unit.

Laser beams shining into light sensors don’t do much of anything on their own, but when spinning fan blades interrupt each laser beam it modulates the solid beams and turns the readings of the sensors on the far end into a changing electrical signal which can be played as sound. Light being modulated by fan blades to create sound is the operating principle behind a Fan Synth, which we’ve discussed before as being a kind of siren (or you can go direct to that article’s fan synth demo video to hear what kind of sounds are possible from such a system.)

This project takes this entire concept of a fan synth further by not only increasing the number of lasers and fans, but by tying it all together into an autonomous system. The lasers are interrupted repeatedly and constantly, but never simultaneously. Listen to and watch it in action in the video below.

There isn’t a lot of in-depth technical information on the project page, but there are many really good photos. We especially love the way that the whole assembly is highly visual with the lasers turning on and off and interacting with different fans.

Any changing electrical signal can be played as sound, and if there’s one thing projects like self-playing musical hardware can teach us, it’s that if you have an electrical signal that looks strange or chaotic, hook a speaker up to it because it probably sounds pretty cool!


Filed under: musical hacks

Turning a toy piano into a standalone digital synthesizer

Electronic musical instruments are fun for Makers. With some cheap tools, know-how and passion, anyone can become a real synth geek. Just ask software developer Liam Lacey, who also happens to be a sound coder and freelance hacker. He recently won element14’s Open Source Music Tech design challenge for his Vintage Toy Synthesizer project — it’s an acoustic wooden toy piano converted into an open-source, standalone polyphonic digital synthesizer running on a BeagleBone Black and an Arduino Pro Mini.

Playing an instrument is about a lot more than just the sound you create – the way you play it; the physical feedback; and the overall feel and aesthetics of the instrument also play a big role in the overall experience, with these elements also helping to nurture inspiration, and can even affect your perception of the sound created.

Lacey developed the voice engine using the C++ audio DSP library Maximilian, and the keyboard mechanism uses homemade pressure sensors made out of Velostat. The instrument has 18 keys, with players able to also alter scales using the knobs on top of the mini piano’s lid.

Other dials are used to toggle dedicated waveform oscillators, various filters and onboard distortion effects, and there’s even vintage parameters for replicating old or broken analog synth voices. What’s neat is that the converted toy can also act as a MIDI controller to send velocity-sensitive note messages and polyphonic aftertouch to Logic Pro, Ableton Live and various music software programs.

Here’s a diagram of the software architecture of the synth:

You can read more about the hack here, as well as listen to some quick and rough sound/patch demos:

The project took three and a half months to bring to fruition, and let us just say, the final result is quite impressive! Check out the video below to learn more about  its specs and explore the complete documentation on GitHub.