Tony of Electrokraft has just released a set of new products: Super Synth Drums the DrumAxe. Both work in conjunction with an NES system running custom software called Super Synth Drums. The software translates button presses into Drum sounds that are being synthesized by the NES itself. Everything was written in 6502 assembly language and burned to a ROM by Tony. His main resources for learning ASM were books like “Atari Roots” by Mark Andrews and others written in the early 1980’s, as well as help from people at the NESDev.com website.
In the heart of the circuit is a PIC microcontroller driving a 4021 “parallel to serial” shift register. Multiple input buttons or in this case touch sensors are encoded to single serial output that is understood by the Nintendo System. The Sonic DrumAxe essentially replaces gamepad #1 on the NES. The second gamepad can be used to add a variety of pulsing/looping effects. Unfortunately given the current legacy status of the NES hardware, the actual NES connectors are hard to come by without cannibalizing and existing system, so Tony devised an RCA style setup with an OEM DIN to RCA cable. 4 RCA jacks on the NES correspond to the Clock, Latch, DATA, and Ground required for sending bytes to the NES CPU.
There will be an upcoming tutorial demonstrating how the Sonic Drum Axe’s circuit was made and how it’s connected to the NES. Also for those who have already purchased the Super Synth Cart or are thinking about it, please keep in mind that in the future Electrokraft may offer free ROM upgrades, which will include more sounds and features! Harmony Central just did a wrote up as well.
Super Synth Cart and the Drum controller are for sale at Electrokraft.com or on eBay, part of the proceeds will be donated to humanitarian organizations. Thanks Tony, great work!
HighlyLiquid has created another wonderful MIDI kit for emulating joystick control of an Atari 2600 with MIDI signals. Directions and buttons are mapped to a specific MIDI Note along with different keypad values. The the left and right ports can be independently configured via a dip switch to be either a Keypad or a Joystick. This finally allows the sweet sounds of Synthcart to be sequenced via computer. I can also picture using this kit with circuit bent devices that have an Atari Joystick style (DB-9) connector for triggering bends as well as custom circuits that rely on the same pin out for note triggering. Very nice work!
Highly Liquid’s MIDI Speak kit got a shout out on the Hak.5’s ubergeeky show Episode 3. A Canadian musician/engineer Andrew Barrow demonstrated the Nintendo Power glove being hooked up to PIC controller that converts its 3D movements into a MIDI note stream. The result was a stream of speaky-gargali-gook. In the segment Andrew does a good job of describing the ease of the MIDISpeak Kit installation process and the general terminology of what is happening and why. The Speak and Spell segment starts at about 47 minutes. Enjoy. Via the New Highly_Liquid Blog.
This acoustic piezzo trigger to serial interface is indeed pretty ghetto, but never to less there is plenty of great information on NoisyBox.net about programming a Pic Microcontroller for building such a device.The creator decided to use strait serial protocol for triggering samples through a custom application running on a PC and not through standard MIDI. Also housing projects in an external drive case does have advantages. Its cheap, rugged, and has a nice power supply built-in, so the circuit does not have to rely on battery power. The cases can always be painted if needed.
A Kaoss pad like device entitled Musical Blackboard was built by Ryan Avery and can be seen in action with this very educational video. The metal sheet interface is used as a sensor for reading body capacitance based on the hand position. The readings are done utilizing a circuit published by the delayed John Simonton of PAIA. Pic microcontroller is then used for processing the values and converting them a stream of serial data that triggers a 40 pin parallel switch circuit. The result is a burst of bends being articulated by the hand movements on the surface of this board. Pure circuit bent/pic microcontroller goodness! More images and the project page is located here. Enjoy.