Atari Punk Console schematics

atari punk console beep schematic 556suchaturnon atari punk consoleatari punk console schematic

The so called “Atari Punk Console” device is a great start for builders interested in working with components and circuitry to produce Bleepy-Bloopy-Gitchy goodness. Using a 556 dual timer IC and a handful of other components one can be built quickly. The basis for this noise maker was a schematic originally published by Forest Mims III, which now can be found around the web and posted above for easy reference. The APC can be built into any case of your desire, and in the case of The SquareWave Parade even a vintage Atari joystick. The circuit is not only easy to build, but it is also easy to modify. The 556 IC is very resilient and cheap so don’t be afraid connect various pins to each other in order to discover new sounds. Touch contacts can be added in conjunction or as a substitute for the potentiometers and different values of capacitors can be swapped in to change the tone color dramatically and provide greater expression. Lots of links are available on this great little circuit:

Atari Punk Console is now available as a Kit from GetLoFi for only $24.

Worth Ekik

Kaustic Machines

MatrixSynth: Entry

59 thoughts on “Atari Punk Console schematics”

  1. So correct me if im wrong. The 556 is a 2 oscillator chip. Its being wired so one oscillator is a tone generator and the other oscillator is modulating the pitch of the tone?
    I’m gonna build one of these next payday . Got some sweet vintage bakelite teletronic enclosures begging for 8bit guts 8).

  2. You are correct for the most part. Output A is connected to the Trigger B. The trigger basically flips the oscillator 2 ON for the duration that it takes to charge the capacitor B. In essence its very crude Frequency Modulation.

    1 Discharge A
    2 Threshold A
    3 Control A
    4 Reset A
    5 Output A
    6 Trigger A
    7 GND
    8 Trigger B
    9 Output B
    10 Reset B
    11 Control B
    12 Threshold B
    13 Discharge B
    14 VCC

    Please do build on and send in the PIX. Good luck.

  3. I think I built this circuit before.. Isn’t there a “Sound Effects Generator” in the Mims book?

  4. The one I built was in the 555 book. Timers, Op Amps, and something..
    It’s probably in both books, I’m guessing.

  5. Worth Ekik, Very nice application of the original circuit. Thanks for the acknowledgment. Note that this circuit can be easily controlled by light, temperature, pressure, etc. simply by replacing the pot with a suitable sensor (e.g., photoresistor for light sensitivity). Forrest M. Mims III

  6. Holly crap, Forrest Mims! Welcome, I speak for myself and possibly everyone else, when I say that you are a great DIY electronics hero! I got your books, and I page through them all the time. Lots of inspiration can be draws from your circuits and designs. Wow, please check back often and stay in touch!

  7. Wowser, Mims just talked to me. That’s pretty damn cool. Thanks for the credit w/ links and whatnot fellas!

    -worthekik

  8. Wow, Mims himself talked to me, sort of. That’s pretty neat. Nice blog! If anyone builds the APC from my layout, send me a picture and I’ll put it on the page. Thanks!

  9. Looking to build this soon, ive looked at all those links, new to building stuff from scratch. how do I add a led onto the project? where on the schematic does it go? thanks for any info, and for putting this up!

  10. In case I failed to post this earlier, the two 470K pots can be replaced by (or bypassed by) light-sensitive photoresistors to allow you to control the tones with light. You can also use anything with a resistance that changes when bent, pressed, etc.

    Forrest M. Mims III
    http://www.forrestmims.org

  11. That was pretty easy (once I discovered that the first 556 I tried to use was faulty) and it makes delightfully annoying noises.

    Perhaps someone here could help me with the next part of my project: I would like to be able to programmatically (via a microcontroller) enable/disable either of the 470k pots. To this end, I tried sticking a 3903 transistor in the path of the circuit coming back from one of the pots. (See image.) http://jarrin.net/sites/7f4b457c-f724-477f-af61-4f57a3d7662a/uploads/apc_3903.jpg

    I was hoping that if I applied enough current to the base pin that the current flow from the collector to the emitter wouldn’t be compromsied – but this is not the case. At a high resistance (say, if I were to simply touch the base pin) I get a nice percussive clicking noise and at a low resistance (connecting the base pin directly to +9vdc) all I get is a high pitched whine (which is only minimally controllable via the pots).

    Since I am not very familiar with the 555/556 I admit don’t fully understand what’s going on in this circuit; nor do I fully understand the consequences of introducing a transistor into the circuit path. Could anyone here perhaps give me some hint as to how I can accomplish my task?

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  13. Hi
    I have tried making one of these using a stripboard but with no luck. I get some noises when I touch the back of the IC but that about it. Any ideas where I may be going wrong?

  14. Hi !!

    I’ve made some pcb layout in order to build apc, but when i sold all the components, only the leds show me that it’s working.. but absolutely no sounds… i don’t understand cause i’ve built it exactly as it is shown just above…
    Can i have some help please ? thanks…

  15. Ok so I finally scored the parts and built this thing. Its the first pedal I built that actualy works (other then a volume booster). The only thing I’m guessing isn’t working quite right is that of the three pots two seem to control volume and only one does the modulating. The design I used called for two 500K pots not 470k…. I’m thinking thats not the issue. Any advice? So far I like what I hear but I know there should be more going on….works great when coupled with a delay!!!

  16. hi. i plan on building one of these, and i’ve ordered all the parts, but i’m really new to electronics and somethings really confuseing me. the battery and one side of the output connect to the groud instead of to the actual circuit. do these need to be connected together or something. i dont get how you can connect only one side of the battery.

  17. do u need to connect the circuits (the black lines on the map) if you are using regular breadboard (not solder-less breadboard)?

  18. It’s good to see this circuit in such wide use, for it is among the most entertaining and simple projects I’ve ever designed. Be sure to consider using CdS photoresistors in place of the pots to achieve light control over the sounds.

    Forrest

    Forrest M. Mims III
    http://www.forrestmims.org
    twitter.com/fmims

  19. I’m building this right now. I like your clean layout, but shouldn’t the pc board graphics be horizontally flipped if one was to use an iron on transfer like press n peel blue? I’m reading some of the comments and wonder if this may be an issue. Great site! Oh and thanks Forrest Mims for giving me something to do on a rainy day.

  20. I just put a video on youtube of a (slightly hacked) ATP connected to an oscilloscope to show the waveforms that produce the Atari sounds.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mTshZiLMUz4

    Hope this is useful to other ATP builders.

    Btw for everyone who is having trouble getting their ATP to work I’d say that investing in a small prototyping board is the way to go (mine cost £4), makes circuit bending easy too. You can solder it together later.

  21. I’m building a 8 sequencer based on the baby 10 and i want to trigger a Atari Punk Console with it via cv. My problem is I can’t seem to find any reference to where on the APC the cv is to be connected. Any suggestions?

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  23. I’m curious about the -4dB output as I’d like to make this mod on other circuits sometimes. What’s the math to figure out the voltage divider I need there to make it -4dB? Thanks!

  24. Voltage divider is basically what a potentiometer is. So if you connect the output of the APC to the center leg and the outer legs to Ground and Positive respectively you should have good volume control.

    Then if you measure resistance values between the center leg and outer legs you can replace the potentiometer with two fixed value resistors to achieve the volume.

    Hope this makes sense

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