For my internship at Create Digital Music/Meeblip I've created quite a fun little synthesizer. This thing is meant to be more flexible than other synthesizer by making it completely independent; it is battery powered, has its own amplifier/speaker and is controlled by a manually operated sequencer. Inspiration for this form comes from my frustrations with most synthesizers: that I can't just take them out and jam with friends!

The previous iteration of this instructable did not feature any sound or video of the actual synth, which is quite essential to see if you want to build something! So here they are:


A great video where Stefany June plays the instrument and I talk about it for a bit.

A quick video of a jam I did together with Roel playing electric guitar

A quick video of a jam I did with the synthesizer in Jasper's electronic setup


This instructable shows how I made my prototype and describes how you could make your own. It won't go into super-deep detail, so if you want any assistance, please don't hesitate to contact me!

More details can be found in the report I wrote here.

This document and all included research and illustrations, are covered by a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. The hardware designs, schematics and code are provided under GPL v3. This means that you can rebuild and improve on this project as you wish, just let me an Meeblip know!

If you want to know more about me, check me out at http://www.arvidjense.com

Step 1: Concept and design

So, synthesizers are pretty cool instruments, making the sounds for the mostof the music I listen to right now. Yet they are quite limited in where and how they can be used. For instance, I can play my guitar at home, but I could take it to the park or to a friend for a quick jam-session. Not so simple for a synth: I'd have to plug it out of my studio setup, take a midi keyboard or laptop and just hope the place where I'm going has the right connections to plug in again.

Another point where I feel synthesizers are performing worse than traditional instruments, is in their connection to the user. Where I can feel the vibrations of my guitar resonating through my hands and body, the sound of a synthesizer comes from a speaker a few meters away from me. Similar on the control interface; A guitar is quite clear in the fact that if you pluck a string,a sound comes out. But for a synthesizer you will have to learn the function of dozens of knobs which often have several layers of functionality.

On the other hand the palette of different sounds coming from a synthesizer is bigger than that of most traditional instruments. Also the possibilities for programming the notes allow for things not possible on traditional instruments. So why choose one or the other? I wanted to create a synthesizer which has the flexibility and direct connection of a traditional instrument.

As I've done this project for Meeblip, one thing was certain, I would use a Meeblip Micro as the sonic centerpiece. Other than that, everything was still open. Would it become a drumbox or rather a guitar-like synth? After looking at a lot of different synthesizers, reading up on synthesizer design literature and sketching lot of variations, I came up with something. 

After making a lot of prototypes of all the individual pieces (interface, electronics, sequencer etc) I finally found the 'final form' which is made in the next steps. All functions are directly accessible through the knobs and switches on the interface The internal speaker allows the instrument itself to vibrate, which, especially when you place the instrument in your lap, help you feel what your playing. The instrument is controlled through a circular sequencers, in which you set the notes form a range of -12 to +12 semitones from a center note set by the base knob.

I've yet to create a decent video showing all the function, but as soon as that is present, I'll put it in here!
<p>Where did the the title for this 'table come from? 'Acoustic' might be a bit misleading as it suggest that no electricity is involved. Other than that, great project.</p>
This is an excellent idea. I have alwys thought the same thing: There is too much involved in getting to the point where you can just play a synthesizer. If your &quot;no-strings-attached&quot; synth sounds good, you could really take off with it! I am terrible with electronics or mechanical sort of stuff, as I know a lot of other people are who would want what you have here. You could make a lot of money. Looking forward to the video. You'll post it here?
Here's the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32MlFpFa0pw
Any chance of a demo video ?
Yes, there will be! It should be around here before next week.
I look forward to seeing the video as well. <br> <br>Really nice design on the synth, I like the laser cut wood design you came up with. Good job.
Took a bit longer than expected, but: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32MlFpFa0pw
Its been a while, but here it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32MlFpFa0pw
<br> nice project - however for all of you who want something a little simpler there is a stripboard layout for a cool drone synth <a href="http://www.paulinthelab.com/2012/10/devils-triangle-drone-synth-stripboard.html" rel="nofollow">HERE </a>

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Bio: I'm a Dutch guy doing things with music and technology. At the moment I'm finishing my MSc in Industrial Design. Not limiting myself ... More »
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