Behold the "smallest and worst" USB-C synthesizer

Originally published at: Behold the "smallest and worst" USB-C synthesizer | Boing Boing


“Tim Alex Jacobs”? Within two words, I knew that voice – it’s mitxela!

I was curious whether they can be successively pulled out of the hub, or whether that’s enough force to break them in twain. Also, why is the hole on the left one bigger than that on the other three? Mass production my foot.


“Comically I waited until this moment to realise I didn’t have enough piezo buzzers in stock. I ordered some more and the new ones are a minutely different design, which was inevitable. Never mind.”


Ah I hadn’t RTFA. Thank you very muchly.


Love the envelopes on that sound there, so buttery. Meliflous almost…


The old high-impedance piezo earphones for crystal radios can’t be found these days except by ordering them from afar, paying a bunch for shipping, and tax on that. I was reading that piezo buzzers can work as a substitute. Time to raid my junk box and test that!

And then rebuild the crystal radio into a one transistor SW regen receiver.


:thinking: I think the demo my Dad gave me on the “Straight-8” PDP/8 fuelling machine control computer at (Ontario :canada:'s) NPD nuclear station, where it played music through a radio on a particular frequency the machine emitted, was possibly a little better. That might be a contender for the “biggest worst” synthesizer, although “smallest worst” in terms of available processing power.

Yeah, yeah, what were we doing using a nuclear reactor control system to play music.


Anybody remember the SN76489 Digital Complex Sound Generator? You could get one new off the rack for about $7. As it was just an IC chip, you had to plug it into a “bread board” and then wire in all the potentiometers and switches. It performed as advertised.


That one is programmable, rather than external pots, caps and switches.

Possibly the SN76477?


“Smallest, worst” yet also most adorable.


Oh my god, I fell into that Wikipedia hole and ended up on the Gakken EX System. I had one of those as a kid!!! I loved screwing around with it. I love electronics though am not very creative with making up my own circuits and gadgets.


I’m not much at analog electronics, so my solution is to find people who are good at it, and study it.

(Still coping with the idea of using a 32-bit processor just to drive a beeper.)


I lost it when he mentioned its basic capability: A monophonic square wave!!! And those close-ups at the end, as each module was given its individual 5 seconds of face time! Then I really lost it!!!


Oh… yes, you are correct, mine wasn’t programmable. Thank you for pointing that out.


My favorite is still the biggest smallest synth, which was built into a MIDI connector. For a couple of reasons

  1. we’re already kind of used to “devices” that are just a USB connector and a bit attached - thumb drives, audio interfaces, mouse wigglers, bluetooth dongles etc. But “just a MIDI connector” is pretty unique
  2. it was parasitically powered by the tiny bit of current that MIDI connectors have - I think the reason they have a 5v pin is strictly as a reference? I’m actually not sure.

This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.