The synth prototype

After much stuffing around last week I can now tell you that I have built a fully functioning tape player synth prototype.It took about half an hour to build. And it sounds awesome. Really awesome. I’ll upload a proper hacker/maker style video of this working in the next week. I call it a prototype because it has an etherten board for brains which I plan to use for other things and it messy and extremely dodgy.

The back.

So the back has a speaker if you don’t have a big one to plug it into or can’t be bothered lugging one around and two wires for hooking it up to big speakers. There is a usb cable for power and programming.

The guts of the project.

Inside there is a rats nest of wires along with an arduino clone board. The original potentiometers are connected to the etherten’s power, ground and analog inputs. Here’s the extremely small amount of code that powers this project:

int note = 100;
int beat = 50;
int length = 10;
int pin = 9;

void setup() {
  pinMode(pin, OUTPUT);

void loop() {
  note= analogRead(0);
  length= analogRead(1);
  beat= analogRead(2);
  tone (pin,note);
  noTone (pin);

Analog pin 0,1 and 2 are hooked up to the potentiometers and read the changing voltages which is then output as sound. This makes the synth sound like not much fun to use but I can assure you it is. The atmega328 chip sometimes stuffs up the readings with interesting blips popping up every now and again. Certain combinations of voltages bring out these blips in full force providing a kind of random tone generator. There are a lot more imperfections allowing for weird sounds to be made using the synth. This is probably the most fun thing to use I have built with electronics. I promise I will upload a video in due course (probably some time this week) as it is a bit hard to convey sound with words and images. This thing is so much fun to use.


One thought on “The synth prototype

  1. Pingback: Making the tape-player synthesizer a permanent project. | Lochie Ferrier's Blog

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