"FOR THE GHOST IN THE MACHINE"
The so called Atari Punk Console is a popular circuit that uses two 555 Timer Chips or a single 556 dual timer IC. The original circuit, called a "Sound Synthesizer", was published in a Radio Shack booklet: "Engineer's Notebook: Integrated Circuit Applications" in 1980 and later called "Stepped Tone Generator" in "Engineer's Mini-Notebook - 555 Circuits" by it's original designer, Forrest M. Mims III (Siliconcepts, 1984). But the Kaustic Machines Crew named it "Atari Punk Console", because of it's LoFi sounds, which resemble the old Atari noises, from the early video game history.
ATARI PUNK CONSOLE
Once again, it took me nearly half way, through the galaxy and back. It was completed after 160 hours of work and there are 25 m of wire inside of it. It’s a heavily bent Atari Punk Console in my own suitcase design. The whole story began with a small keyboard, which was a gift, from a friend. The power button was broken off, hanging on the rest of some plastic casing and it's wires. I took it through the city, in the middle of the night. It was snowing and I ended up, in a spontaneous snowball fight, with strangers. It was fun, but I slipped and the whole keyboard broke apart in two pieces, when I fell to the ground. But I kept the broken unit in a box and needed it for the speaker holding, to finish this project. The clue is, that the speaker on the back has a backlight and is entirely rebuild with wood and the cap piece from a bottle of wiper. Because the original speaker had different measurements, than the original, 4 Ohm speakers, but I needed an 8 Ohm speaker for it, to work properly. When I tried to assemble the case, there where two screw nuts, which I didn't had. But there is always a way and I drove to a scrap metal container. It was empty, but I climbed in, because there where some screws and screw nuts on the ground. And what a surprise. Two screw nuts, out of seven, which I found inside, had the right diameters. Jackpot!!! The orange cable chamber, on the back, came from the handle of an ironing board. The other orange plastic parts are from of a toy laser gun and the roll of insulating tape. I salvaged the eyes for the space invader, on the top panel, from an ugly sixties lamp, which came out of a pile of trash on the street. The wooden side-panels are made from an old shelf.This time, I had to make my own circuit boards, but it worked well. When the oscillator board made it's first noises, I tried to find different ways, to control the oscillators. I added one square wave “LFO” – one 8 step sequencer – routable to chip A and B. The keyboard design is dedicated to the arcade button style on the old cabinets. You can also transpose the sequence with the keyboard. Nearly every function on the front-panels are switchable to light control. The Ghost Hold function is a Key, under the real keyboard. Because the circuit is a mono synthesizer, you couldn't press the lowest key, if it would be solved, in this way. So this is one extra key and a hold function, across the whole keyboard. You can hold the key you like, with a 12 position rotary switch. Every step, on the 8 Bit Sequencer can be switched off, to alter the according sequence. The Keyboard can be switched to light control, as well, as the tuning of the two chips. You can control the pitch, the HP Filter, as well as the LP Filter, with the LFO. The main speed, of the LFO and the step sequencer, are also switchable, to light control. This mean machine, is a real beast and some adjustments, may lead to confusion, but I had to built it this way.
This little guy came out of a trash mountain and was stuck under some smashed laptops and a bunch of cables. I took it with me and gave this buddy a few days to dry.
I was surprised. Sometimes I can’t understand, why somebody would throw it away.
The main problem with these units was the power connector on the back. After a while, it gets wobbly and the unit starts to break down for no reason. Another problem is the power supply. It has to have 12 Volts with 2000 mA. These instruments used to break down during the operation, if they were underpowered. This Synthesizer had a broken Main Switch. You couldn’t change the operation to one hand and so on. So I went down in the basement and pulled a similar contact switch out of a dead Hohner Organ. The measurements were not the same, so I had to cut the iron feather in half, soldered the two contacts together and melted them into the original plastic holding. Hell Yeah, it worked and the rest is unknown history. The PSS 290 and the PSS 280 have the same board. But I noticed one jumper cable on the board, which seemed to be out of place.
THE PSS 2800 MK1
My first Synthesizer or Keyboard was a Yamaha PSS 290. A friend gave it to me in 2010 – thank you very much Karl. My first two Bends on this Keyboard were a true horror. I found a hidden distortion, but every sound used to end in a clipping. So I pulled them out again. But one year later, I tried to bend it again and I had more experience. In the end, I found so much interesting bends and tested it via the first prototype. They are not harmful to the engine. And a big respect goes out to Yamaha, because this machine never hangs up. If you think the unit broke down or crashed, you are wrong. All you have to do is …. pressing some of the keys or adding some more patch-cables. And the Ghost in the Machine will come back. This build was planned as a giveaway for an artist. After two prototypes, I moved the machine to a new level. And it went to London, to “Look Mum No Computer”. May the “Ghost in the Machine” be with you!
THE ROBOT PLANET
It’s a small suitcase Synthesizer with one “Crazy LFO” – one Bitcrusher – one programmable 8 step sequencer – and the “Robot Guru Spot” to crash the device in different ways. And sometimes, the Guru is meditating. The whole unit was built out of trash wood, which should be burned. One month ago, I added a Synch-Mod to enable two of these little synths, to talk to each other. This little buddy came out of a pile of trash and some lights broke down. The reason for this was a broken connector inside. I fixed it and it works wonderful.
This small device is a prototype for the Terrormin MK3. It has one “Simple LFO” – one Bitcrusher – The machine was also built out of trash wood. You have various random controls for the pitch and a hold function for the tone itself. The antennas are touch sensitive and you are able to play around with it, like on a normal Theremin. But it is quite different, especially the behavior of the machine. The base section holds some controls for the light sensitivity, volume, the LFO and the robot voice. There will be another one, but this will take some time on the drawing board, of the lab.
THE BLACK SMOKER
My second Bend was a small unlabeled keyboard toy. I could pitch it and one day it died. But I kept the parts in a box as usual. I had this idea of two voices in one box. So I took two smoke detectors, build this box and salvaged the keyboard unit. The keyboard is touch sensitive and changes the tone right before you could push a key. In the center of the panel you have a tune knob for the right pitch. Yes it is only a noise machine, but it has some points, to explore the capabilities of the sound. And like always, nearly everything was build from parts, which I found on the street or in the trash bin.
One night, a friend asked me, if I could build a Theremin and yes, it was possible, but in another way …. after this conversation, on the way home from the party, I found a smashed Ghetto Blaster and I took it with me. I realized it with an old cigar box and some parts from old furnitures. I didn’t have the parts for any circuit, so I used a smoke detector for the voice …. it worked fine …. during all test-sessions …. and it became a very strange machine ….
THE ROBOTRON ONE
It was a Casio MA 130 and it’s finished …. and there are still more things to do!” It became a real monster …. and now it’s a Space Machine …. ! It has a low filter and a high filter, which I found on the main circuit and a hidden distortion. There are two smoke detectors inside, which could trigger one note each. But the trigger time wont change, because I didn’t know, how to do it otherwise at the time. Behind the instrument is a hidden Random Trigger, which reacts to light like a Geiger Counter and matches every beat. Above this section is the Robotron Step, which is able to sequence 8 Steps like a traditional sequencer and you are able to add more steps to the according sequence. The next block houses one Bitcrusher and a simple Delay unit, which are patchable. The last thing to do is to fix the delay unit, but I know, why it isn’t working properly …. but everything step by step …. I think this old buddy has to be redone in a more actual style, because it is also a prototype unit, to test new ideas ....
THE PSS 2900 MK2
This Machine is the second version of the Yamaha PSS 2900 and it came from the trash. The machine was the most abused one in my collection and saw much better times. I had to remove everything, because there was water inside, spiders, much dirt and corrosion. On the downside, the case was cracked open and some of the screws for the housing were broken out. I decided to make new side-panels, to cover the broken edges. It looks used in a nice way and works fine ....