A stock Arduino isn’t really known for its hi-fi audio generating abilities. For “serious” audio like sample playback, people usually add a shield with hardware to do the heavy lifting. Short of that, many projects limit themselves to constant-volume square waves, which is musically uninspiring, but it’s easy.
[Connor]’s volume-control scheme for the Arduino bridges the gap. He starts off with the tone library that makes those boring square waves, and adds dynamic volume control. The difference is easy to hear: in nature almost no sounds start and end instantaneously. Hit a gong and it rings, all the while getting quieter. That’s what [Connor]’s code lets you do with your Arduino and very little extra work on your part.
The code that accompanies the demo video (which is embedded below) is a good place to start playing around. The Gameboy/Mario sound, for instance, is as simple as playing two tones, and making the second one fade out. Nonetheless, it sounds great.
Behind the scenes, it uses Timer 0 at maximum speed to create the “analog” values (via PWM and the
analogWrite() command) and Timer 1 to create the audio-rate square waves. That’s it, really, but that’s enough. A lot of beloved classic arcade games didn’t do much more.
While you can do significantly fancier things (like sample playback) with the same hardware, the volume-envelope-square-wave approach is easy to write code for. And if all you want is some simple, robotic-sounding sound effects for your robot, we really like this approach.