What are Chiptunes?
To quote wikipedia
, "music written in sound formats where all the sounds are synthesized in real time by a computer or video game console sound chip, instead of using sample-based synthesis."
A lot of chiptunes are ripped from classic videogames, and some are new works. The SIDstick plays the most common variety of chiptunes, music written for playback on a SID chip. Probably the biggest collection of SID music is the High Voltage SID Collection
, which has 36,000 SID tunes, free to download.
How long do the batteries last?
Depending on the type of batteries you use, you'll get about 20 hours of playback. I suggest you use rechargeable batteries, but alkalines will work, too.
How many songs can I store?
All of them. A 2gb microSD card will store 20,000 - 30,000 songs, depending on filesize. That's about 60 days of unique tunes.
Is it hard to put together?
No, it's pretty easy - there aren't a lot of components on the SIDstick, most of the magic happens within the microcontroller. The microSD card slot comes pre-assembled, so you don't need to do any surface mount soldering.
I want technical details!
That's not actually a question, but here are the details of SIDcog, the core audio processor;
- 31kHz sample rate
- >16bit resolution
- Full filter support - any combination of Lowpass, Bandpass and Highpass filter
- Full envelope support with a logarithmic release/decay curve. ( uses the same logarithmic approximation as a real SID)
- Supports all 4 waveform types
- 16 steps main volume
- Waveform reset bit works. (many Rob Hubbard tunes relies on this exact behaviour)
- Ring modulation
- Oscillator synchronization
SIDcog runs on a Parallax Propeller, an 8-core, 80MHz microcontroller, and can be reprogrammed with a PropPlug, connectors are on the board.
The SIDstick is the product of a group effort - Johannes Ahlebrand
did the SIDcog core & desktop app, Jeff Ledger
did the SD card interface and track / volume control. I did the circuit board layout. Thanks also to James Long from Lil' Brother SMT Assembly for the microSD board design and assembly services.