Introduction: Simple Sequencer

Picture of Simple Sequencer

One of the keys to making good music is mindless repetition. That is what the simple sequencer is great at. It does the same thing over and over again in an eight note sequence. You can adjust the frequency of the note, the duration of the note and the pause between notes. If you get really good, you can anticipate the next note and change things up on the fly. This little box is sure to provide endless hours of fun.

Step 1: Go Get Stuff

Picture of Go Get Stuff

You will need:

- (8) 1M potentiometers
- (8) 50K potentiometers
- (8) 10K potentiometers
- (8) SPST 5V relays
- (1) 20K potentiometers
- (16) .1uF capacitors
- (16) 220 ohm resistor
- 74HC595 Shift Register
- Lamp pull switch
- M-type power adapter
- Mono audio jack
- 10K resistor
- 16F877 Pic chip
- 20 MHZ resonator
- PCB or two
- 40 pin socket
- Mat board
- 12 x 12 sheet of acrylic
- Wood grain contact paper
- 5 x 7 aluminum box
- An analog variable resistance based noise maker
- Rubber feet
- 26 knobs of various color
- A power drill
- C-clamps
- An awesome Epilog laser cutter
- A soldering setup
- Misc tools and hardware

Step 2: Cut the Top Panel

Picture of Cut the Top Panel

Stick your wood grain contact paper onto a sheet of acrylic. Lay it contact paper down inside the laser cutter.

Cut the acrylic with the following file and raster cut it with the following settings:
Passes: 5
Power: 100
Speed: 100
DPI: 600

After you are done raster cutting, vector cut using the following settings:

Power: 100
Speed: 10
Frequency: 5000

Step 3: Cut Some Spacers

Picture of Cut Some Spacers

Cut out some mat board spacers on the laser cutter using the file below.

The setting I used for the vector cut were:

Speed: 100
Power: 40
Frequency: 2500

Step 4: Wire the Pots

Picture of Wire the Pots

Attach wires to the left leg and the center leg of the 1M, 50K and 10K potentiometers.

Step 5: Assemble the Top Panel

Picture of Assemble the Top Panel

Now is time to assemble the top panel.

For each potentiometer, slide on a mat spacer and then install it through the back such that the notch on the potentiometer is aligned with the indent in the back of the acrylic.

In what you figured will be the top row, insert the 1M potentiometers.

In the middle row insert the 50K pots.

In the bottom row insert the 10K.

Step 6: Build the Circuit

Picture of Build the Circuit

Following the schematic posted below and build the circuit.

This will require using a fair amount of circuit board. I used two from Radioshack. On one I put the PIC chip and the 7805 regulator (and a relay I ran out of space for). On the second board I put the relays and the shift register.

I built as much of the circuit as I could and then I added the potentiometers and lastly wired it to the audio circuit.

I didn't wire up things that would need to be installed in the side of the case like the power plug and the volume knob. For testing I temporarily included a 9V battery adapter.

Step 7: Cut Mount Panel

Picture of Cut Mount Panel

Using the files below, laser cut a mounting bracket, 1/4" spacers and a cork liner.

To vector cut the acrylic I used these settings:

Speed: 10
Power: 100
Frequency: 5000

To vector cut the cork I used:

Spedd: 100
Power: 50
Frequency: 1500

Step 8: Assemble Circuit Panel

Picture of Assemble Circuit Panel

Fasten your circuit board to the base panel with nuts and bolts. Don't forget to sandwich in between the 1/4" spacer to give the circuit boards some elevations.

Neatly hot glue the cork base to bottom.

Step 9: Program the Chip

Picture of Program the Chip

Program the 16f877 chip with the following code and then transfer it into the socket.

CPU = 16F877
MHZ = 20
CONFIG = 16254

SI con A0
SCK con A1
RCK con A2

abit var byte(9)
nDur var word(8)
nP var word(8)

counter var byte
setValue var byte
noteDuration var word
notePause var word

'shift register address bits
abit(0) = %10000000
abit(1) = %01000000
abit(2) = %00100000
abit(3) = %00010000
abit(4) = %00001000
abit(5) = %00000100
abit(6) = %00000010
abit(7) = %00000001
abit(8) = %00000000

'duration array pins
nDur(0) = D0
nDur(1) = D1
nDur(2) = D2
nDur(3) = D3
nDur(4) = D4
nDur(5) = D5
nDur(6) = D6
nDur(7) = D7

'pause array pins
nP(0) = B0
nP(1) = B1
nP(2) = B2
nP(3) = B3
nP(4) = B4
nP(5) = B5
nP(6) = B6
nP(7) = B7

counter = 0
setValue = %00000000


for counter = 0 to 7
HIGH nDur(counter)
pause 1
RCTIME nDur(counter),1,noteDuration

setValue = abit(counter)
gosub out595
pause noteDuration

HIGH nP(counter)
pause 1
RCTIME nP(counter),1,notePause

setValue = abit(8)
gosub out595
pause notePause * 3


counter = 0

goto main

shiftout SI, SCK, LSBPRE,[setValue\8]
pulsout RCK, 8

Step 10: Debug

Picture of Debug

Hook up power and make sure that it works. If it doesn't work:

- Check all of your connections. Make sure none are crossed and none are missing
- Make certain the PIC chip is in the socket properly
- Turn the main volume knob. The sound could be down.

Step 11: Drill

Picture of Drill

Drill holes in the aluminum case to mount your volume dial, audio jack, pull switch and power plug. Also drill out some holes so that you can here the speaker.

I wanted to match the holes already on the speaker, so I rubbed permanent ink on the speaker and while it was still wet, transferred this to white gaffers tape and stuck this to the case as a drill guide. I then drilled.

Step 12: Line the Case

Picture of Line the Case

Cut a sheet of contact paper large enough to fold over onto all sides of the case with 1/4" to spare. In the corners, cut diagonally outwards so that you can fold them in.

Line the rest of the case with contact paper. Don't yet peel away the backing for the last 1/2" around the edges as you will need to keep this sticky to glue on when you glue the case closed.

Cut out holes where you will be installing your jacks, knobs and whatnots.

Step 13: Fasten Hardware

Picture of Fasten Hardware

Securely fasten all of your hardware to the aluminum casing.

Discover that your audio jack shorts your circuit when it is installed in the casing. Cover the hole for the audio jack with contact paper and drill a hole in the top piece of acrylic to install the audio jack. Install it again.

Put your circuit boards in there. I glued the audio board to the inside of the case. The main one I just let sit on the bottom as there are so many wires attached to it, it is not moving anywhere.

Step 14: Case Closed

Picture of Case Closed

Double check to make sure that your circuit works one last time and then hot glue and/or epoxy the case shut.

Peel the remainder of the backing from the wood liner and smooth it out onto the case.

Press on all of your knobs and dials.

Step 15: Rubber Feet

Picture of Rubber Feet

Stick some adhesive rubber feet to the bottom so that it doesn't get scuffed up.

Step 16: Make the Music

Picture of Make the Music

Turn the knobs as your heart desires and make some mighty fine pseudo-repetitive music.


yago r (author)2017-05-08

Nice project! Have you got any link of a youtube/ soundcloud or whatever showing how the sequencer sounds like?

LynwoodJ (author)2015-12-22

Can you edit and embed a video of this?

manicmonday (author)2015-12-22

But what is this thing used for?

daniel.stillmunks (author)2015-12-22

Dear Sir: You have a mighty fine product there !!

Q1: How much (ballpark) did you spend on parts?

Q2: How long did it take you to put this together??

I have epilepsy and can no longer work on small soldering projects; Would you be interested in building one and I pay for all parts and pay you double the minimun wage $8.50 x 2 = $17/hour to do the work?

Thank you. Have a blessed Merry CHRIST-mas.

Hesperia, CA 92345

sebastian cincotta (author)2014-07-02

is it expensive because im doing some djn with my game boy and ive blown so much cash on the parts but it sounds like such a great idea

evanmalmud (author)2010-05-23

could you post the dimensions of the box please

gardnsound (author)evanmalmud2013-06-28

Yes, Please post the measurements so I don't have to buy a laser cutter.

stealthop (author)2012-05-17

i'd rather have a mini moog than a laser cutter. call me crazy!

stealthop (author)2012-05-17

what pic programmer is that?

dlapham (author)2012-04-07

Can't I just use some plastic washers from Lowes?

dlapham (author)2012-04-07

Can't I just cut it with a hole saw on a regular drill?

randofo (author)dlapham2012-04-07

Sure. A normal acrylic drill bit should do.

antoon (author)2012-01-11

how much does it cost i am almost broke so ...

Rank Penguin (author)2011-12-14

Would it be too much trouble to ask for a little higher resolution picture of the schematic? Thanks!

randofo (author)Rank Penguin2011-12-15

In a few weeks I will be posting a new project with a much better circuit for doing the sequencing based on a 4017 decade counter.

randofo (author)Rank Penguin2011-12-15

Click on the "i" in the top left corner of the image for higher res versions.

apaterson1 (author)2011-04-13

i have no programing experience do u know where i can find a pre-programmed chip? thanks

blinkyblinky (author)apaterson12011-11-19

You can use a 4017...

randofo (author)apaterson12011-04-13

No one sells pre-programmed chips that I know of.

hintss (author)randofo2011-08-14

sell them

pieman445 (author)2011-08-30

AWWWESSSOME! I love sequencers, and with the looks of this one, i may have to see if i could make it XD
How much, excluding the cost of a laser (i may mount in something else), would you say this costs to make?

jordanwade (author)2011-07-22

what program did you use to code the chip?? i only have mplab and the arduino ones...

pietzeekoe (author)2011-03-12

MAKE A KIT!!!!!cant find the parts ...

xemiahx (author)2011-02-21

that is simple? lol

kasta96 (author)2011-02-12

what type of laser cutter do you bought?

the zing one?

randofo (author)kasta962011-02-12

I didn't buy any, but I am fortunate to be able use an Epilog Legend EXT. I have now used 3 different kinds of lasers and must say that I like Epilog the best.

kasta96 (author)randofo2011-02-13

so it's possible to build this project whitout the laser cutter?

randofo (author)kasta962011-02-13

I more or less used the laser cutter to cut round holes. This can easily be done with a drill press. Just download and print the file and use this as a drilling guide.

The spacers I made could easily be bought.

I think that about covers everything.

dark sponge (author)2010-08-22

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a video is worth a thousand pictures.

More than that. 30 pics a second. so 1 minute of video is 1800 pics right there. and 1440 pics at 24 FPS.

Sorry 'bout that...

AlternateLives (author)2011-01-31

This could be fun for Progressive House tracks! Perhaps get a few modulators in there, double the amount of I getting ahead of myself?

JaNsRex (author)2011-01-29

Hello guys...just to ask.....does this circuit has a tempo or just a beat?...such as a closed hat sound....

pietzeekoe (author)2011-01-07

I wish you made a kit for this.....I love the idea but i dont like part hunting and programming.

You should make kits with just the parts and a pre-programmed chip.....I would buy one :)

hazzalflame (author)2009-06-16

Hey... Just want to know how much your exact one cost and how much we could save on alternatives. some of these components ain't cheap!! Recession and all...

randofo (author)hazzalflame2009-06-16

Toy keyboard (free on sidewalk) Potentiometers and knobs (probably around $25 including shipping) PIC chip setup ($10) Misc other parts ($10 - $15)

Duke Luke (author)randofo2009-06-28

how did you get the potentiometers so cheap? as well as the other parts. What website do you use? i have had trouble finding potentiometers for under $10 each

amplex (author)Duke Luke2009-06-29 has great prices, or try local bargain bin electronic stores, and i actually have found pretty good deals for 10-15 at a time on ebay, for as cheap as $1 apiece, w/ $3-4 shipping from hongkong, etc

armenws (author)amplex2010-11-01

2nded - ebay is a great place to find them around 1$ or less each, just make sure you find the ones with the right rating and stem length you need and sort by price

copenhague (author)2010-10-18

I'm looking for a step sequencer but the monye is a problem..

is this Simple Sequencer for real or just a joke?

where can I listen to the sound of it?


Technoshaman (author)copenhague2010-10-25

Why don't you try the baby-10 step sequencer? Google it...

randofo (author)copenhague2010-10-18

I found a toy keyboard on the sidewalk and hacked it. I doubt you will find the same toy keyboard on the sidewalk. What mine sounds like probably won't be exactly what your sounds like.

Basically, it hits different notes in sequence, as expected. You can use whatever sound-producing device you want.

I have better things to do than write fake how-to instructions.

If you want a cheap and simple one, here:

amplex (author)2009-06-26

not to steal your thunder, OP, but for those interested in a MUCH much simpler (and also usable as a CV sequencer!) do a google search on Baby10 sequencer. No PIC required, just a simple 4017 (for 10 steps) or 4022 (for 8 steps), the 8 100k pots, 8 1n4148 diodes, and some leds and resistors if youd like. i can build these in an hour, and have put them in toy drums, synths, etc!

teeps (author)amplex2009-12-06

 Would you please make an instructable for this?  I would love to see it.  I am interested in all of this stuff!

amplex (author)teeps2009-12-06

I've had parts around to do a 16 step one for awhile, a very simple project with 3 chips (40106 timer, 2x 4022 or 4017), 16 diodes, 18 pots, leds+resistors.  It will have CV out with a pot to control the range, and 1 for gain (internal osc). I'll start working on it tonight.  The only thing I've never done is make a drawn schematic for it but its based on the common Baby10 schematic which you can search for.

teeps (author)amplex2009-12-06

Sweet!  Sounds awesome.  I can't wait to see it.  If you make everything else clear enough, the schematic might not be too big of a hurdle.  But then again, it might be a fun challenge that would hone your skills in an area that's not a strength at the moment.   :)

And on a separate note that I should have included in my first comment:  I really like THIS instructable as well, great job!

armenws (author)teeps2010-09-21
here's a 16 step sequencer schematic.

Frag (author)2010-08-25

The mp3 sounds like the love child of Mario and Daft Punk

FuzzyStefan (author)2010-08-24

how much did it cost you?

FroMeister (author)2009-09-24

Um, looking at the instructions there seems to be keyboards and relays which are never mentioned? Have I missed some other set of instructions?

flio191 (author)2009-09-23

but these go to ELEVEN

About This Instructable




Bio: My name is Randy and I founded the Instructables Design Studio. I'm also the author of the books 'Simple Bots,' and '62 Projects to ... More »
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