Salvaged Scope Lets You Watch the Music

Everyone likes a good light show, but probably the children of the 60s and 70s appreciate them a bit more. That’s the era when some stereos came with built-in audio oscilloscopes, the search for which led [Tech Moan] to restore an audio monitor oscilloscope and use it to display oscilloscope music.

If the topic of oscilloscope music seems familiar, it may be because we covered [Jerobeam Fenderson]’s scope-driving compositions a while back. The technique will work on any oscilloscope that can handle X- and Y-axis inputs, but analog scopes make for the best display. The Tektronix 760A that [Tech Moan] scrounged off eBay is even better in that it was purpose-built to live in an audio engineer’s console for visualizing stereo audio signals. The vintage of the discontinued instrument isn’t clear, but from the DIPs and discrete components inside, we’ll hazard a guess of early to mid-1980s.  The eBay score was a bargain, but only because it was in less that perfect condition, and [Tech Moan] wisely purchased another burned out Tek scope with the same chassis to use for spares.

The restored 760A does a great job playing [Jerobeam]’s simultaneously haunting and annoying compositions; it’s hard to watch animated images playing across the scope’s screen and not marvel at the work put into composing the right signals to make it all happen. Hats off to [Tech Moan] for bringing the instrument back to life, and to [Jerobeam] for music fit for a scope.

17 thoughts on “Salvaged Scope Lets You Watch the Music

  1. The author forgot to mention that on the demoscene people use to build 4-channels audio: 2 channels for X-Y scope and the other 2 channels for stereo output. Using this method, those annoying sounds go straight to the scope, saving the ears.
    As an example check this:

  2. This is really really cool. I’m watching the videos referenced by Jerobeam Fender. Amazing stuff. Making me think about the future when mass data storage is ubiquitous enough that we can all have large localized databases (google server scale). This could eventually enable super-compression symbolic-dictionary schemes that would allow transferring insane amounts of information over relatively low-bandwidth channels.

    1. It’s not magic, just using the difference between L and R channels creatively. Digital audio compression schemes already go through great efforts to factor out imperceptible differences between stereo channels because it’s wasted data on your ears.

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