Chipophone plays video game classics

This thrift shop organ gets a new life as an 8-bit music maker. Called the Chipophone, it relies on an ATmega88 to produce sounds that you might associate with classic video gaming. [Linus Akesson] takes us through all of the different sound settings in the video after the break, including performances of your theme music favorites.

The original organ uses transistor logic making it rather easy to patch into the hardware. Thanks to the build log we know that [Linus] used 74HC165 input latches to monitor each of the switches for the 120 inputs. Fifteen of these latches work like a backwards shift register 74HC595, cascading all of the parallel inputs into one serial signal. From there the microcontroller takes over, monitoring the keys, pedals, switches, and potentiometers and outputting the appropriate sounds.

[Thanks 7e]


  1. none says:

    “backwards shift register” the correct term is parallel to serial shift register and the other is serial to parallel shift register

  2. darkore says:

    Kinda hard to see so much win in a single place. Kudos to the author.

  3. osgeld says:

    thanks none, I was just about to jump them for that

  4. Xb0xGuru says:

    My daily glee has been used up on this one post. What an amazing piece of work!! Kudos.

  5. Mike Szczys says:

    @none & @osgled: Ok, point taken. Let’s call it a backwards 595. I think the parallel-to-serial shift registers are much less know components.

  6. sethj says:


  7. Rudolph says:

    “in the video after the break”

    This is the third post in as many days that I haven’t seen a video posted after the break. Anyone else? Or is it on my end somewhere?

  8. Stuart says:

    This is amazing!

  9. Acedio says:

    Linus is my hero! His work is always top notch and very interesting.

  10. SquantMuts says:

    @Mike Szczys

    There is a thing such as a backwards 74XX595, it is called a 74HC597.


    Very impressive. I loved how he documented in disassembling the organ. I would love to see some schematics and especially the sound generating code.

    I really like that he added features to enable him to play songs that may be hard to play with two hands. I do not know if the features he implemented are common on a ordinary keyboard.

  11. M4CGYV3R says:

    Yes, I was wondering the same thing.

    I haven’t seen several videos when “video after the break” has been claimed for the last few days.

  12. M4CGYV3R says:

    That was pretty amazing.

    I think I was more impressed that the guy could play all that than the actual build, though it was also awesome.

  13. Awesomenesser says:

    Links to his videos
    Overview with sample songs:

    Amazing Song (Spellbound)

    He certainly knows how to play. I can’t wait for more.

  14. Holy Moley! says:

    I’d give so many monies for this.

  15. zool says:

    very cool

    megaman2 music …nice

    so this uses midi control, some knobs and an atmega88, could probably make just a midi input with an arduino and get the same sounds? might be fun to try

  16. r_d says:

    The 74HC165 is a parallel input serial output shift register. What is with all this nonsense about it being “backwards” and trying to call it a 595? It isn’t an uncommon part.

    We don’t need these things explained to us, and anyone who doesn’t know would be better off checking Wikipedia or by googling “74HC165 datasheet”

  17. Benjamin Brown says:

    And sadly there was NO video after the break -.-

    I want to see and hear that there wire pron star.

  18. ChalkBored says:

    >I want to see and hear that there wire pron star.

    Not badly enough to click the link to it’s website, though.

  19. mre says:

    Most people dont keep logic gate chip data in their heads. The “backwards yadayda” bs doesnt help. Nyone with a few hours on the iron knows sipo and a piso.
    Had – dont make shit up. Its not scifi that needs to be explained in cryptic baby terms.

  20. Eddie says:

    Lol a edit/preview button would be nice :P

  21. chango says:

    @mre In all fairness the only experience most people here have had with any shift registers is in LED matrix drivers. Few people know the whole set of 74xx part numbers, but a lot of us know more or less what’s available in the series by function.

  22. Cpt.Soda says:

    There it is. Must have made a typo in the search bar :(. Awesome Project!

  23. Awesome!

  24. strider_mt2k says:


    Not only an incredible project, but he’s a great musician too!

    Great stuff!

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