Picture of Tic Tac Tunes - Now with Tic Tac Beat Box

Micro-organ and drum-kit in a Tic Tac box

This tiny box will give you hours of fun composing your own tunes. You can vary the tune tempo and switch between a pentatonic and blues scale as well as producing a variety of percussion sounds.
Load up a different program and it will compose its own percussion rhythms(Tic Tac Beat Box) or play with half a dozen different musical scales (Tic Tac Scales). Another cool feature is no power switch - It will hibernate when it's not being used.

There are great musicians around . . . and then there's me with no musical talent at all, but even I can get some great sounding tunes out of this. Watch the video and have a listen to the MP3 files to get an idea of what this little marvel can do.

UPDATE - Two new programs added - Tic Tac Scales and Tic Tac Beat Box - See step 6
Couple more sound files added (better quality)
Modification for right-handed version added to step 4.

Step 1: Parts and Tools Required

Picture of Parts and Tools Required

As well as standard workbench tools and soldering equipment, you will need :-

1 x PicAxe 08M or 08M2 microcontroller chip - see below
2 x 10K resistors - all are 1/4 or 1/8 W
1 x 330R resistor
1 x 22K resistor
1 x 560K resistor
1 x red LED
1 x 10K linear dual gang slide potentiometer (60mm).
2 x 1N4148 or similar diodes. Just about any small diode will do
1 x 0.1 uF capacitor (10V or more)
1 x 28mm x 4mm piezo sounder. This MUST be a low profile type or it won't fit
1 x PX28A 6V keyfob battery (4LR44 PX28A A544 L1325 equivalents)
1 x stereo 3.5mm jack socket
1 x jack plug for probe. This can be 2.5 or 3.5mm, mono or stereo
1 x stripboard 22 x 12 holes
1 x spring from a retractable pen
1 packet of TicTacs. Your choice of flavour

You'll also need a few bits of link wire and something to decorate it. I used the old Blue Peter favourite - sticky back plastic.

If you need to brush up on your soldering technique, there's an excellent guide HERE.

Most of my parts came from Maplin (UK), but Mouser or your friendly local on-line electronics store will have these in other parts of the globe. All the parts (including Tic Tacs and battery) shouldn't come to more that 10 pounds (16 dollars), but that may vary depending on where you are, and doesn't include p+p, or the programming lead (see below).

I've used a PicAxe 08M microcontroller which comes as a blank chip and needs to be programmed. To do this, you will need a programming lead and the free programming editor software. Both the PicAxe chip and the lead are available from Tech Supplies in the UK or see HERE for other countries.  The 08m has been superseded by the 08m2 - Either will work.
Once you have the lead, you only need a PicAxe, two resistors and whatever sensors and output devices you choose to have a full PicAxe development kit which can program any of the PicAxe range, so you can design your own projects. I have an Instructable planned which will get you well on the way.
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So what chip did you insert in this tic tac tunes machine? I must'v missed it and can you buy it or do you have to make it?
Kjata10131 year ago
This rules. I love the idea! I'm making an arduino version of this. Simply because I don't have the funds to dive into the PicAxe.
Coolkid43 years ago
could you post a video tutorial on how to program the 08m2 chip
jdorne3 years ago
Here's an idea, change the instructable to use a 08M2 which has 2048 bytes of memory which means you can store all the programs on it and switch between them using a tactile switch connected to the unused PICAXE pin 3.
AndyGadget (author)  jdorne3 years ago
I made this around 3 years ago, well before the 08m2 came out, but yes, you could do a lot more with a re-write using an 08m2 (although I do quite like the challenge of getting maximum functionality out of a small device.)
Maybe one day, but I'm playing with polyphony on a 14m2 at the moment.
jdorne3 years ago
I have successfully made the Tic Tac Tunes. using the single gang slide pot made one half of the pot be the sounds and the other half the scales and its awesome.

Here it is: http://youtu.be/22etKzCdVO4
AndyGadget (author)  jdorne3 years ago
Great! - Glad you like it.
I've got and even awesomer (?) thing in the pipeline, if only I ever get around to finishing it.
jdorne3 years ago
I could only get hold of a single gang 10k linear slide pot but it is the perfect tic tac box size and tests 0-9k with multimeter. I noticed in the program that there is only a readadc command on picaxe pin 4. Do I need both parts of a double gang pot? or will the single gang do fine.
jdorne3 years ago
My piezo sounder I have is almost half the size of yours and has no screw holes. It works with the PICAXE and it has a tiny hole in the bottom of it and a larger hole in the top. will it be safe to super glue it to the top of the chip? Or does the tiny hole at the bottom have to be uncovered. Either way, I could glue just the edge of it on the chip and it'd still fit i think.
AndyGadget (author)  jdorne3 years ago
Glue it to the chip - No problem.
Covering the small hole may make it slightly quieter, but try it by blocking it with your finger first to see if it makes a difference.
The amazingness of modern technology...
Drakencas3 years ago
I think that this can also: http://www.rapidonline.com/Electronic-Components/PICAXE-08-Starter-kits-80318
Drakencas3 years ago
no i'm from the netherlands its not so funny in the netherlands they dont sell picaxe and download cable for picaxe and socket
AndyGadget (author)  Drakencas3 years ago
If there's no Picaxe supplier in the Netherlands then the UK Picaxe site, Techsupplies, may be your best bet.  It looks like postage for a smallish order to Europe is 3.6 Euro.  They do all the parts you need. 
Drakencas3 years ago
can this piezo sounder to? http://www.ebay.nl/itm/2-x-Cased-Toko-Piezo-Audio-Sounder-With-Leads-30-x-4mm-/390377033134?pt=UK_BOI_Electrical_Components_Supplies_ET&hash=item5ae448cdae#ht_1456wt_1139
Drakencas3 years ago
what is the sort socket a: stereo PICAXE socket or a: Surface mount Stereo Picaxe socket
Drakencas3 years ago
what will one tic tac tune cost if you have to buy everything (download cable)
AndyGadget (author)  Drakencas3 years ago
Assuming you're in the US (I'm not), probably around $20 plus P&P, half of which will be the programming cable.
Drakencas3 years ago
i have a question

if i buy the picaxe 08m2 whats in the box (download cable, programming socket)

AndyGadget (author)  Drakencas3 years ago
That will just be the chip - The other parts you'll have to buy separately.  The programming circuit is the 3.5mm socket and two associated resistors shown on the diagram as the chip is programmed in circuit.  You will also need the AXE027 programming lead which you can get from the same place as the PicAxe chip.  The software (Programming Editor) is a free download from the Picaxe site.
BrunoG3 years ago
How do I program it??
Could a 330 ohm 1/2W 5% Carbon Film resistor be used in place of the 330r Resistor or is that the equivalent??
I love it!!!
Whats the difference between each one?

Which one should I use?
madbutler3 years ago
You dont know where the cheapest place is to buy dual gang potentiometers? I would love my students to have ago at this circuit but at $12 a pot they are to expensive. Is there any other thing that would replace the dual gang pot?

gada8883 years ago
I found the picaxi 08M and pic12f683 out in market.are they the same thing?
no, PICAXE is pre programmed so that you can 'program' in BASIC unlike PIC which is different
Nice...but I tried my hand at PICAXE chips...

I like pics more though (No offense, though.)
Mutantflame3 years ago
Great instructable AndyGadget,

I was just about to make an order on Tech Supplies for the PicAxe chip, but then I realised that the link is broken for me. Is there any other website that sells them and will ship to the UK?


(Now, off to maplin!)
AndyGadget (author)  Mutantflame3 years ago
Are you using an old bookmark link?  The site moved a few months ago.
Currect address is HERE.

They're shipping the 08M2 now which is a more powerful replacement for the 08M, but It should work in this circuit - Please let me know if it doesn't.
(I know there's a problem using the 08M2 with my Piecax project, but I'm working on resolving that.)
Thanks, this link works fine for me.

Does the 08M2 cost any more than the 08M? If the price is the same or similar I shall be giving it a try.


Oh, and just to confirm, I only need the Chip and the cable right, not the CD disk or any of the things, correct? I don't want to make an order to find out that I am unable to program it.

AndyGadget (author)  Mutantflame3 years ago
I think the 08M2 is cheaper than the old 08M.  The reason is that it's a custom masked item from Microchip (i.e. a component in itself) and not a standard PIC programmed by RevEd like the 08M was.

You only need the cable and chip - yes.  The software you download from HERE. You'll need the Programming Editor and the AXE027 drivers.  While you're ordering, get yourself another 08M2 and a proto-board too for playing about with.  Also a battery box to power it.  It's amazing how many things you can do with just that setup and using different sensors and output devices. 

Thanks for your help, AndyGadget! I will get back to you in the future as to how it works!
Oi234 years ago
Is there anywhere I can buy a finished "Tic-Tac Tunes"?
AndyGadget (author)  Oi234 years ago
Nope, you'll have to make it yourself.
(If you're after something ready-built, there's always the Stylophone.)
How would you classify those audio files above? How would you describe their genre?
AndyGadget (author)  WhiteHatJake4 years ago
I've got another project in development which generates an endless succession of this sort of tune (algorithmic music generation) and I may set it up as a ShoutCast station.  I think the genre which best defines it is 'experimental'.
Thank you very much. :)
cool soldering iron
AndyGadget (author)  retrotimelord4 years ago

Thanks, and I'd bet money that it's a lot older than you are.  I've been using it since the early 1980's (but had to change the bit a few times #;¬)
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