Synthbike Rolls To The Beat

Modular synthesizers are some of the ultimate creative tools for the electronic musician. By experimenting with patch leads, knobs and switches, all manner of rhythmic madness can be conjured out of the æther. While they may overflow with creative potential, modular synths tend to fall down in portability. Typically built into studio racks and composed of many disparate modules, it’s not the sort of thing you can just take down the skate park for a jam session. If only there was a solution – enter the madness that is Synth Bike.

Synth Bike, here seen in the 2.0 revision, impresses from the get go, being built upon a sturdy Raleigh Chopper chassis. The way we see it, if you’re going to build a synth into a bicycle, why not do it with some style? From there, the build ratchets up in intensity. There’s a series of sequencer modules, most of which run individual Arduino Nanos. These get their clock from either a master source, an external jack, or from a magnetic sensor which picks up the rotation of the front wheel. Your pace dictates the tempo, so you’ll want to work those calves for extended raves at the park.

The features don’t stop there – there are drums courtesy of a SparkFun WAV Trigger, an arcade button keyboard, and a filter board running the venerable PT2399 digital delay chip. It’s all assembled on a series of panels with wires going everywhere, just like a true modular should be.

The best thing is, despite the perplexing controls and arcane interface, it actually puts out some hot tunes. It’s  not the first modular we’ve seen around these parts, either.


11 thoughts on “Synthbike Rolls To The Beat

  1. There’s a cycling accident waiting to happen.

    On a bike, if you’re going to have something else there, it really needs to be set-and-forget. I often have music playing on the bike, as it is less transient than a bell, thus providing a better warning to pedestrians, and breaks the monotony of the commute for me.

    If a crap song comes on, the back of the power plug for the amplifier has a switch, I just hit that and the sound is cut. Then I can find an appropriate moment to change tracks. I don’t do it in traffic.

    Likewise, there’s an amateur radio station on-board too. I set it on a frequency, and leave it, especially if it’s a HF frequency, as changing frequencies there requires me to re-tune the antenna. I don’t try adjusting frequencies in traffic, and may even tell the people I’m talking to that “I’m entering some traffic, be back in a bit”, and concentrate on the traffic around me instead of the conversation.

    The idea has its merits… if you could pre-programme a MIDI controller with the score to play, then use your cycling cadence to control the tempo… sure. Maybe add one or two controls that you can tap when your not busy with other tasks … fine. But that thing has waaay too many knobs and dials to be adjusted and fiddled with whilst in motion.

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