Stomping On Microcontrollers: Arduino Mega Guitar Effects Pedal

Effects pedals: for some an object of overwhelming addiction, but for many, an opportunity to hack. Anyone who plays guitar (or buys presents for someone who does) knows of the infinite choice of pedals available. There are so many pedals because nailing the tone you hear in your head is an addictive quest, an itch that must be scratched. Rising to meet this challenge are a generation of programmable pedals that can tweak effects in clever ways.

With this in mind, [ElectroSmash] are back at it with another open source offering: the pedalSHIELD MEGA. Aimed at musicians and hackers who want to learn more about audio, DSP and programming, this is an open-hardware/open-software shield for the Arduino MEGA which transforms it into an effects pedal.

The hardware consists of an analog input stage which amplifies and filters the incoming signal before passing it to the Arduino, as well as an output stage which does the DAC-ing from the Arduino’s PWM outputs, and some more filtering/amplifying. Two 8-bit PWM outputs are used simultaneously to make pseudo 16-bit resolution — a technique you can read more about in their handy forum guide.

The list of effects currently implemented covers all the basics you’d expect, and provides a good starting point for writing custom effects. Perhaps a library for some of the commonly used config/operations would be useful? Naturally, there are some computational constraints when using an Arduino for DSP, though it’s up to you whether this is a frustrating fact, or an opportunity to write some nicely optimised code.

[ElectroSmash] don’t just do pedals either: here’s their open source guitar amp.

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An Opensource Arduino Guitar Pedal

If you’re a guitarist, or know a guitarist, you probably know just how many guitar effects there are out there — but what if you could design your own effects?

[J Rodriguez] has just released his opensource Arduino guitar pedal shield, dubbed the pedalSHIELD. He designed it as a platform to learn about digital signal processing, effects, and synthesizers — without needing an in-depth knowledge of electronics or programming. It allows you to design your own effects in C/C++, or download from his own library online. Some of the downloadable presets include an octave pedal, reverb pedals, delay pedals, and even distortion pedals!

The pedal features three programmable potentiometers, two main switches, and the foot pedal switch. The shield plugs directly into an Arduino Due, and you can find all the schematics here and the parts list here. It was completely designed in KiCad which is an open source electronics CAD design suite.

Take a listen after the break to hear the pedal in action!

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