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Hardware Hacking Music Games Build

The Chipophone — an 8-Bit Chiptune Organ 84

adunk writes "Linus Åkesson has built an 8-bit synthesizer inside an old electric organ case. 'All the original tone-generating parts have been disconnected, and the keys, pedals, knobs and switches rerouted to a microcontroller which transforms them into MIDI signals. Those are then parsed by a second microcontroller, which acts as a synthesizer.' The Chipophone is perfect for playing classics such as the Super Mario Bros in-game music or Rob Hubbard's Spellbound. A description of the build process, with photos, is available."
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The Chipophone — an 8-Bit Chiptune Organ

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  • by mccalli ( 323026 ) on Saturday July 24, 2010 @11:35AM (#33013706) Homepage
    Similar vein, and I always wanted one of these: SIDstation [], but sadly they're no longer made anymore.

    For those using softsynths, have a look at QuadraSID [] too (demo MP3 on the right-hand side of that page), particular with the Rob Hubbard expansion packs. I use that a fair amount in what I write. If anyone else knows of some interesting softsynths along the same lines, I'd be interested to hear.

  • a real mega man (Score:3, Interesting)

    by frank_carmody ( 1551463 ) <> on Saturday July 24, 2010 @11:47AM (#33013792)

    My jaw was already on the desk but when he started playing the Mega Man theme... OMG!

  • by Joey Vegetables ( 686525 ) on Saturday July 24, 2010 @12:55PM (#33014304) Journal
    I like the very DIY flavor of this particular installation. But old organs are commonly stripped and MIDI-fied through a similar process, frequently enough that there are forums and even commercial products to assist. Two of my favorite are Midibox (, and Hauptwerk ( The former is a DIY MIDI hardware site, with a forum for people trying to add MIDI capability to old organs and similar instruments; the latter is essentially a MIDI sampler designed specifically for playback of organ music. I am in the early stages of a similar project to add MIDI capability to an old Allen organ, which I am attempting to do without disrupting any of the existing electronics, which makes it quite a bit more challenging at least for me.
  • by TerranFury ( 726743 ) on Saturday July 24, 2010 @01:02PM (#33014370)
    He's apparently also involved in the 8-bit demoscene: Craft by lft [].
  • by Simonetta ( 207550 ) on Saturday July 24, 2010 @01:16PM (#33014494)

    For cheap cool music, I took a different approach. I wrote an open-source hardware controller for an inexpensive commercial MIDI tone module. The best tone module to use is the Yamaha TX81Z, because they are cheap and very flexible. They are widely available still because there were millions sold new about twenty years ago. They are available on eBay for about $60-$80. The sound engine is a four-operator FM synthesizer that can programmed to make all kinds of weird sounds, along with classic analog-synth sweeps and 80's video game sounds.

        Instead of a real organ keyboard, I use a standard PS2 (purple connector miniDIN6) computer keyboard to play the notes. The standard PC keyboard has its own internal microcontroller. It sends a scancode when a key is pressed and also when the key is released, which makes it able to be used as a music keyboard. Its advantage is that it's really cheap, about a few dollars each. The disadvantage is that the keys are small, and, certain combinations of keys (played as chords) don't sound. The specific combinations depend on the keyboard manufacturer.

        Google for the Two-Pot controller at the Yamaha TX81Z Homepage. I also do have later versions of the firmware, all open-source.

  • by d99mo ( 718046 ) on Saturday July 24, 2010 @03:43PM (#33015542)
    I was lucky to be one year senior to Linus at Lunds Tekniska Högskola (Lund University's tech faculty). He's done a lot of crazy things, his project where he implements a VM running Conway's Game of Life using symlinks is really out-there. Here's a link: []
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 24, 2010 @04:16PM (#33015836)

    Thanks for your reaction. I've learned a lot from it (and subsequent Googling).

    I'm not going into the Swedish/Finnish discussion (as I frankly don't know the details of that, although I can guess). Suffice to say that Swedish is a language that I could learn if I tried, but Finnish, no way I could master that one.

    And, seeing that my own country is rapidly declining due to insane government policy, I would like to think I'll someday move to a more pleasant country. And that would be an Scandinavian (in the broadest sense) country.

    If it wasn't that I can't leave my family, I'd already packed up and gone north...

Order and simplification are the first steps toward mastery of a subject -- the actual enemy is the unknown. -- Thomas Mann