[Kevin] over at Simple DIY ElectroMusic Projects has released a complete DIY modular design for simulating the classic 80s Yamaha TX816 DX/FM modular digital synthesizer. This beast of a synth was used by the cool bands of the 80s as well as TV studios, and ownership of the original machine is an expensive investment. But with the power of modern hackable electronics, and the MiniDexed firmware running bare-metal on a Raspberry Pi getting access to a compatible synth doesn’t have to break the bank.
[Kevin] wanted to emulate the look and feel of the original TX816 aesthetic, developing a custom PCB handling the user interface for four of the eight channels, and a second acting as an interface to the Raspberry Pi using a Pico. Also sitting on this PCB is the GY-PCM5102 I2S DAC, and the MIDI connectors needed to connect to the system controller. Both PCBs, including a PCB-based front panel, were developed with KiCAD. The firmware for the Pico part of the system can be found on the firmware GitHub. The video demo (embedded below) shows off the system running a very 80s-sounding rendition of Holst’s famous ‘Jupiter’ from the planet series, and we all agree it sounds pretty sweet. For a complete rundown of the build, here are the links for the blog series for ease of access: Intro, PCBs, Panel, Build Guide, Mechanical, Pico/TX816 IO code, and finally usage. Phew!
If MiniDexed sounds familiar, that is because we featured another of [Kevin’s] earlier MiniDexed projects a little while ago.