If you have a taste for cheesy 1960s combo organ sounds, I just posted the littleBits MIDI organ project. This project is an updated littleBits take on my old Combo Organ project. It uses the same “bottom octave generator” technique to squeeze five sample playback voices out of an Arduino.
Here’s why you should prefer the littleBits version. The original project uses the MidiVox shield which is out of production. The littleBits version replaces the MidiVox with two breadboard-based circuits: a MIDI input interface and a Small Peripheral Interface (SPI) digital-to-analog converter (DAC). Easy to build and functionally equivalent. The new sketch incorporates improvements made to the Arduino SPI library and PROGMEM. The current SPI library uses a different convention for sending data to the DAC. PROGMEM is way different now; the old code won’t compile. The newer version of PROGMEM is stricter about typing and
The littleBits MIDI organ could form the basis of a sample playback synthesizer. Just replace the Farfisa and Vox waveforms with single cycle samples of your favorite synth or retro keyboard. Waveform space in PROGMEM is still tight, but hey, this is science. It’s supposed to be fun!
You’ll need to add a few headers to the littleBits Arduino module in order to use SPI. Here are some simple directions and tips:
You’ll also find the SPI DAC and MIDI interface designs in parts 2 and 3, respectively.
While you’re at the littleBits site, check out f.j2’s Solina string synthesizer. Retro is bustin’ out all over!
I need to switch gears for a little while and be a musician again. So, I’ll be taking a short break from Arduino projects. More to come on the music side of things…