Bitbuf delivers some of the best chiptune effects around

Wow. And furthermore, WOW! Just looking at that clean prototype you know that a lot of work has gone into the project, but when you hear this chiptune MIDI device you’ll really be impressed. We know what you’re thinking, but really, you’ve got to hear this to appreciate the quality [Linus Akesson] achieved in this synthesizer. You can catch it after the break.

He does a great job of showing off the different waveforms that can be produced by the ATmega88 on this board. But there’s much more. It also serves as a 16 frame, 16 channel sequencer for creating and layering your own loops.

He mentions that eight oscillators are used for the waveform generation. We don’t see hardware for this on the board. Either we’re missing it, or these oscillators are being created with software? If you have an idea of how this works please clue us in by leaving a comment.

[Thanks 7e]


  1. cpmike says:

    Me tune? No, [Linus] tune.

  2. TVHeadedRobots says:

    The oscillators are done in software. He mentions it on his blog here; There is a brief tech spec section that sums up how it works. Really cool stuff.

  3. Tryum says:

    youtube link broken

  4. Steve says:
  5. Roel says:

    Looks polished, impressive.

  6. krylenko says:

    The oscillators are being generated in software, I assume using direct synthesis with phase accumulators, since these are simple waveforms and he’s not looking for super-clean non-aliased sounds.

    Link with more info:

  7. bty says:

    reminds me of Jeroen Tel’s Cybernoid, very impressive!

  8. jc says:

    Now that is seriously cool !

  9. Roger says:

    Yeah its got a lot of features, but I don’t see it composing its own tunes, or folding my laundry.

  10. Sascha says:

    Reminds me to Little Sound DJ. Love it!

  11. anyone says:

    wow…this guy has some musical talent. very cool project. if he starts selling them, i hope makes a good user manual cause really…id be lost LOL

  12. error1 says:

    I guess the lesson to parents is that if you want your kid to become a computer genius, name him Linus.

    You should look at his other projects, they are all pretty amazing.

  13. Chris says:

    Amazing in every way.

  14. MooglyGuy says:

    Linus is quite experienced with using microcontrollers to generate audio, and often video. As far as I know, his demo “Craft” predated the TVOut library for Arduino as well as the various video shields.

    Some of his other builds include:

    The Chipophone, a full-fledged chiptune organ with a similar design to the Bitbuf, but with an actual amp and keys:

    Craft, a demo for an ATMega88 with video and audio:

    Phasor, which generates composite PAL instead of VGA:

  15. David says:

    holy crap? this sounds sweet as hell, wish I could play that good and be able to max it out to it’s fullest potential. NICE WORK!

  16. War_Spigot says:

    Very nice

  17. Alex says:

    This is so awesome. I love Akesson’s projects.

  18. Afroman says:

    This guy is one of the greatest hackers of all time.

  19. Jeroen says:

    Linus Akeson is a legend. Check out his Chipophone, which he uses to perform live renditions of famous chip tunes from way back when:

    Watching that video will be 8 minutes well spent.

  20. Knappster says:

    I’m throwing money at my screen, it does nothing :/. This should be in a pretty box with a well written manual in a webstore/music shop NOW!.

  21. GeneralChat says:

    That’s a rocking tune start at 7:32, far better than anything currently playing on the radio.

  22. Jim says:


  23. pRoFlT says:

    After watching the chipophone organ…Seeing people play like this makes me not want to play anymore because they are way better then me. I could practice more and get better. But i don’t. It’s even worse when i see a child play better than me.

    I’m the other way with hacking though. always want to out due someone else :)

    Is there software midi for 8 bit audio? so i could play mario style music on my pc with midi keyboard? that would be almost as fun.

  24. bzroom says:

    What kind of circuit board construction is that?

    • Sylv41n says:

      It’s a perfboard with vertical copper tracks(there are many types of perfboard ), with a sheet of paper glued on it. It’s like ghetto-serigraphy but give the whole prototype a neat look.

      Every time there is a ‘X’ on the sheet, it means the vertical copper track must be cut using a drill bit. Horizontal tracks are made using copper wire.

  25. Johan G says:

    Drugs to my ears… Give me more, please! :-D

    I really hope this turns into open hardware kits, not because I could use it, but because I could hear new chiptune(-like) creations more often…

  26. Josh Malone says:

    Holy living crud! I didn’t think his instruments could get more advanced than the chip-o-phone, but he’s done it. His C-O-P writeup indicated he had a bit of trouble fitting all the original functionality into the chip; how the hell did you squeeze all this into a single atmega then?!?

    Bravo, sir! Bravo!

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