August 2011

ATXMega32D4 microcontroller and the BassBoy

This is the first time I’m posting on a product. But a monophonic bass synth based on the Atmel ATXMega32D4 microcontroller a for only $29 bucks is a pretty good deal if you ask me. What I really like though is the inclusion of a full schematic, something of a rarity these days in consumer electronic products. Available via MikroElektonika.

From the manual:

BassBoy is a monophonic digital MIDI controlled bass synthesizer. Device receives all information via MIDI input (connector).Sampling frequency is 31.25KHz which generates audio range up to 15.625Khz. Although it’s based on 8-bit processor, the signal processing inside the unit is 16-bit. The unit consists of oscillator which generates SAW & SQUARE WAVE using 16-bit band-limited wavetables, thus making the number of harmonics limited. After that, the signal itself goes through a simple implementation of MOOG filter, whose frequency range is chosen by MIDI commands and which is affected by the level of the envelope. The filtered signal then comes to the controlled amplifier, which creates the signal shape, and in the end through DAC (WM8762) and pre-amp circuit goes to the audio jack 6.35mm. The unit is mono, and 6.35mm jack is also used as carrier for the circuit board itself.


Acording to this site site what we have here is ‘A. Magic Pulsewave. Tiny Dazzler – Radstyle.’ Radstyle indeed. I think it needs about a thousand animated gifs to kick it up a notch. Eitherway, what’s pretty cool is this psychedelic and aptly named “Mega Verb

Livid Instruments’ Code Station Prototype

Many times when I look at someones work I think of it in terms of ‘could I do that?’. For example, if my system were a scale from 1 to 10 a 1 would be ‘I can definitely do that’ and a 10 would be ‘I probably can’t do that without going back to school for 6 years, lots of practice, and a butt-load of cash’.

Livid Instruments’ photo stream on Flickr highlights one of their most recent projects – the Code Station Prototype. This is definitely one of those times I’d give this a 10 on my ‘Can I do that scale’. I’m looking forward to seeing this i production.

Cavan Fyans (and his tape box)

Cavan Fyans at the time of writing this is a PhD student at the Sonic Arts Research Centre. His personal site along with detailing his extensive academic work also outlines a number of his DIY electronic instruments. My favorite is the “Tape Box 2” which as the name suggests is an updated version of “Tape Box 1”. It’s perfectly simple, does what it should, and doesn’t distract with excessive controls, knobs, and gimmickry. I also have to give him a thumbs-up on his use of high quality pictures documenting his work online. Nothing makes me more disappointed than a thumbnail that leads to a picture of… a thumbnail.

Resource: Curious Inventor

I don’t post too many entries in the “resource” category but when I came across this I was really excited. This site is chock full of easy to follow how-tos, tips, tricks, and tools that anyone in DIY audio (DIY anything actually) will find useful. I recommend adding the Curious Inventor Blog to your favorites and reading it frequently.

I also love the “Guides”

RF’s DIY Modular Synth Pages

This is from another user named ‘RF’. ‘RF’ [Nick] has built a monster DIY analog synth built mostly from MFOS kits from Ray Wilson. RF’s site gives a great deal of information on where he got started when looking to explore DIY synthesis. One of these days I’m going to take off 5 years and photograph all of these synths and publish it in a luxurious hard cover volume with nothing but gear-porn quality photos.

RF’s DIY Modular Synth Pages.

Rich Decibels: Sinister Tone Generator

This post by user Rich Decibels highlights a industrial grade Tone/Drone generator based around the 40106 Hex Schmitt Trigger. He also provides the schematic for your benefit. This looks like a great build for a beginner which will provide immediate sonic enjoyment. Check out his blog for a handful of his other awesome projects (like a home-made oscilloscope). :: View topic – Sinister Tone Generator.

The Steam Amp | CopperSteam Blog

Generally speaking I’m not a fan of Steampunk. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate it or anything, it just isn’t my thing. But there are always exceptions to the rule and this beautiful DIY amplifier kicks ass in all of its steam-punk glory.

Here’s the completed project found on

The builder [Ævil Mike] has a thorough post about the amp which is constructed around a k-12g kit from tube depot but is housed in a copper enclosure of his own design. His notes and write up are here