MIDI controlled Speak-and-Spell

We all love the Arduino, but does the Arduino love us back? There used to be a time when the Arduino couldn’t express it’s deepest emotions, but now that [Nick] hooked up a speech synthesis chip from a Speak & Spell, it can finally whisper sweet robotic nothings to us.

The original 1980s Speak & Spell contained a fabulously high-tech speech synthesizer from Texas Instruments. This innovative chip predated [Stephen Hawking]‘s voice and went on to be featured in the numerous speech add-ons for 80s microcomputers like the Apple II, BBC Micro, and a number of Atari arcade games.

[Nick] has been working on his Speak & Spell project for several months now, and he’s getting around to testing the PCBs he made. By his own admission, connecting an Arduino to a Speak & Spell is a little difficult, but he’s got a few tricks up his sleeve to get around the limitations of the hardware. The final goal of [Nick]‘s project is a MIDI-controllable Speak & Sound speech synth for the Arduino. This has been done before, but never from a reverse-engineered Speak & Spell.

You can check out [Nick]‘s progress in interfacing the Speak & Spell speech chip after the break. There’s still work to do, but it’s still very impressive.

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Notacon 2008: Circuit bending will get you laid


[Pete Edwards] and [Fred Owsley] openly admitted that the title was the most thinly veiled audience-bait ever constructed. Nevertheless, they poured through a great talk covering the basics of circuit bending and some of the pieces they had built over the years. Fred said that what attracts him to circuit bending is the hands on approach to something very scientific i.e. he can figure out how to construct an interesting circuit by rubbing his finger along the back of the board. As far as where to start: always a battery powered device and use the toy store as a last resort. You’re going to tear the thing apart so why pay for it? Dumpster diving, garage sales, swap meets, and flea markets are all places to look. Parts don’t need to be anything better than grab bag either. They suggested an easy first step is dropping the operating voltage of your device and seeing how it reacts. Pete and Fred had several examples of devices they’ve modified: Speak & Spells, Casio SA keyboards, Barbi karaoke machines, and the voice changing gas mask pictured above.

The Bent Festival for circuit bending is coming up soon if you’d like to see more. You can also check out these links for more information on circuit bending.

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