A Modular Game Boy Synthesizer

Euro

Synth heads and electronic music aficionados the world over love a good rackmount synth. These days, though, synthesis tends more toward small, digital, and ‘retro’ rather than the monstrous hulking behemoths of the 60s and 70s. [gieskes] might be ahead of the curve, here, as he’s built a Game Boy module for his eurorack synthesizer.

The software running on [gieskes]‘s Game Boy is the venerable Little Sound DJ (LSDJ), the last word in creating chiptunes on everyone’s favorite 8-bit handheld. As with any proper Game Boy used in chiptunes, there are a few modifications to the 1980s era hardware. [gieskes] tapped into the cartridge connector with a ‘repeat’ signal that provides slowed down, noisy signals for LSDJ. There’s also pitch control via CV, and the audio output is brought up to 10Vpp

In the video below, you can see [gieskes]‘ euroboy in action with a few Doepfer synth modules. There’s also a very cool pulse generator made from an old hard drive in there, so it’s certainly worth the watch.

Comments

  1. DanielG says:

    My ears didn’t agree to the statement “so it’s certainly worth the watch.”

  2. rasz says:

    my C-64 made similar noises

    … while the game was loading

  3. Kim says:

    Synth-heads can only hope that this makes its way into the ears and hands of Moldover…

    • Delphi says:

      Moldover has nothing to do with synth heads. He just plays with crappy little modded midi hardware and released that god awful “controllerism controller” that costs over a 1000 dollars and was nothing but a crappy midi device with some buttons and sliders in a custom case.

  4. Gray says:

    If they tapped into the cartridge connector, I assume this could be done without modifying the handheld itself? I’m picturing a 2U rack unit which you slide Gameboys into like hotswap hard-disks.

  5. Sarge says:

    If anyone’s interested in looking into the capabilities of old gameboy’s as synths, there were some commercial products available a few years back. LSDJ was an original-gameboy cartridge that can still be found on eBay and other marketplaces (although it isn’t made anymore). Nanoloop was a more advanced version of the same concept for the (you guessed it) gameboy advance. I’ve heard some really great tunes come out of those programs utilizing off-the-shelf hardware only.

  6. aztraph says:

    This is one baby step above circuit bending, albeit done with quite a bit more skill in the electronics side, it is still torturing electronics. Despite it’s innovation with the controls it has the potential to be a playable instrument, it will still take years to master. Concept: A+. Proficiency/quality of output: D.

    Having digital output makes the output consistent and therefore learn-able, looking forward to see it in action after it’s been mastered, take your time, it looks rather difficult.

    • BBJamm says:

      You may not be the one to evaluate success or failure. There is a younger generation of synth enthusiasts who have different priorities.

      • aztraph says:

        Let’s see, I spend most of my waking day fixing electronics, using electronics, fixing home appliances, USING home appliances, and although I have not had an official music career, I did get my band letter in high school and attempted (and failed because i spent most of my time fixing things) my first year of college pursuing a music career.
        I cannot bring myself to intentionally damage anything electronic, and have a fairly decent ear for musical theory and have tried my hand at music composition. I understand that accidents happen but circuit bending is neither an accident nor beneficial to electronics unless it was built for that purpose from scratch by someone competent. This hack has the good fortune of being designed for this purpose at least so I have no qualm with it’s design and use.
        I do not recognize it’s output as music since it appears to be very random in it’s operation. Yes i do know of artist styles that produce seemingly random but these would only make sense if you are watching a particularly complicated run of Conway’s Game of Life, or have a jones for new age jazz or R&B that lake any form of rhythm, timing, or recognizable chords.
        Music has structure, and though it can be argued that lack of structure can be a structure of it’s own, this is not the case in music.
        Once this device is used with a well known structure and integration in musical form, it will just be noise.

  7. John U says:

    I have to say that I’m enjoying exploring his site and seeing the creative ways of generating & bending sound, and the execution of the circuits.

    HOWEVER this comes with the caveat that:
    – My work PC has no speakers, so it could sound like arse for all I know.
    – Circuit bending is for fucking hipster twats

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