Instructables
Picture of Making Music with an Atari Punk Console
Some ancient analog circuits are as popular today as when they were introduced decades ago. Often they easily beat micros and other digital circuit solutions in terms of basic simplicity. Forrest has done it again.. his favorite example is the Atari Punk Console.
 
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Step 1:

The Atari Punk Console has become the popular name for a simple circuit that I first described as a "Sound Synthesizer" in Engineer's Notebook: Integrated Circuit Applications (1980) and then a "Stepped Tone Generator" in Engineer's Mini-Notebook: 555 Circuits (1984).

The circuit created a sequence of tones whose frequencies vary in distinct steps as a potentiometer was adjusted. Some in the electronic music community began experimenting with the circuit, and it is eventually labeled the Atari Punk Console by Kaustic Machines. "Atari Punk Console" yields 15,100 hits in a Google search. The circuit even has its own Wikipedia page.

Thanks to YouTube, you can check out some sounds from the Atari Punk Console from the comfort of your computer desk. For example, here is a version of the circuit built inside an Altoids box. Go here for a list of more than 200 video clips showing additional implementations of the Atari Punk Console.

Even older than the Atari Punk Console is the integrated circuit that makes it possible, the venerable 555 timer designed by Hans R. Camenzind for Signetics. The 555 was introduced in 1972 and continues to be one of the most popular integrated circuits ever designed.

Greetings,

Thank you for the detailed layout + instructions! I'm however having trouble with R3. When connected where the directions say, it does nothing. R1 is controlling the pitch.

PhilieBlunt8 months ago
for even more fun replace r1 and r3 with photoresistors! its kinda like an atari punk theremin! awesome instructable, lovein the step by step assembly!
Shmeeper4 years ago
You mentioned you could alter the frequencies by changing the values of C1 and C2. Would it be useful/interesting to use variable capacitors there in order to make this alteration on the fly? Or does the effect just recreate the resistor's affect? Thanks for the great instructable!
atomize? you mean melt?
no,sort of vaporize
osgeld5 years ago
"Be sure to work in a well ventilated room when using lead solder." To be safe you should work in a well ventilated room when using any flux, It takes more than 800 degrees f to start atomizing lead, and at that temperature you will pretty much destroy anything your trying to connect Flux on the other hand is a mild caustic substance, and inhaled can cause lung damage over time All solder that has a flux core presents that danger, not just lead Btw good abile BUT! I was just thinking about making one on this exact subject a couple nights ago, and i would appreciate it if you would quit reading my mind (har har)
Well, in most situations, you are correct....by the time lead vaporizes, you've destroyed anything you are working on... And flux vaporizes much sooner(and is immediately harmful). The real kicker though, is that almost all electronic solder is now lead-free. Not to say that those other metals now used, and the related fluxes are good for you... but lead isn't the issue. Factoid: Lead doesn't even melt till over 620F. For Boiling Point(also called Vaporization temperature), it's 3180F. As to where you got the 800 number from, I'll presume it was a mistake, made based on the "Latent Heat of Evaporation" of lead being 859 kJ/kg. That is, however, a measure of energy/weight. To give perspective, the same "latent heat of evaporation" for water is a massive 2,272(boils at 212F remember). The point on ventilation is excellent though. The solution to air pollution is dilution. Really good ventilation(like a fume hood vented to the out doors) works wonders, since you avoid primary contact... and your secondary contact comes after using massive amounts of local atmosphere to dilute your exposure from parts per thousand(present in the "smoke") to parts per trillion(in the air you breathe). This diluted particle count is, for us older InstructaIbleists, lower than our lead exposure from pumping the real gasoline of our youths(you remember, before they even THOUGHT of putting "unleaded" in our fuel tanks much less alcohol). Hmm, I guess your points(on fourth reading) are essentially correct. just not super clear. I believe the author's comment on safe lead soldering came mostly from the fact that, in 1980, when the circuit was designed...lead solder was still commonplace. To the comment on your wanting to make this 'ible a few nights ago.... Give the author's name of JamecoElectronics, and the almost(not quite but almost) spam-like(ok, maybe advertising-like is a better term) use of Jameco part numbers.... I'd hazard a guess that you should let this one slide(as with any other 20 year old projects they post). To ihackeverything : YES. Atomize... aka vaporize, evaporate, etc. not melt. Melted lead, in and of itself, does not pose an inhalation hazard that requires ventilation. But lead solder is not pure lead... and fluxes are involved....and all sorts of nastiness... So it's just a general good idea to ventilate well. Why take the risk?
nak ironsmiter5 years ago
omg.
Quote Wikipedia : At the retail level, the two most common alloys are 60/40 Sn/Pb which melts at 370 °F And Atomize is not the same as vaporize, Atomize means to create a fine particle mist (nothing to do with boiling, but particles are in the air) Vaporize means to change from a liquid to a gas at a rapid rate (everything to do with boiling)
nak osgeld5 years ago
Actually to correct the correcting correctorerer I would probably work in a well ventilated room during ANY type of work, we breathe oxygen and put out CO2, we are filthy animals breathing our own excrement >: O
Doldrum5 years ago
Man, I wish I was good with electronics and circuitry. That's awesome! .... I think I'll have to get my big brother in on this one.. :/