Homemade Hardware - Week 11

Alpha to Beta

After a few weeks of setbacks, making some forward progress on the final project. I’m feeling confident that I’m on a path to having a first milled board this week and toward having something pretty funky effects-wise to to mess with the tone output from a microcontroller.

First up: instead of trying to create boards that will play parts from Steely Dan’s “Peg,” I’ve shifted focus over to “Reptilia” by The Strokes. The reason is pretty simple: there are only four instrument parts I need to worry about in the latter song compared to sixteen in the former. With simultaneous tone generation it’s possible to get some chiptune-y renditions of full songs from a single microcontroller, but that makes it that much harder to then control the timbre of individual instruments with more circuitry.

My plan is to recreate the album art for Room on Fire, the album “Reptilia” is from, in the PCB design. Assuming I’m using copper clad board, I probably won’t go for a color accurate recreation (though I’m assuming I could use nonconductive acrylic paints if I wanted to go that route?) but starting from a black-and-white high contrast version to begin taking the shapes and lines and turning them into traces/places for components seems promising.

My experimentation with breadboarding guitar pedal circuits has led me to a combination of a basic boost pedal (adapted from this YouTube channel) and this LM358/LM324-based distortion. In working with the 358 I’m also drawing from what we learned about op amps in Pedro’s Electronics for Inventors class this semester.