Introduction: StyloBuzz - Synthesizer

About: Brian McNamara is an experimental instrument builder and sound sculpture artist based in Bungendore, NSW, Australia. Brian mixes his passions for music, electronics and sculpture into unique objects that shou…
The StyloBuzz is a small super lofi stylus synth that allows you to play one octave of notes, you can also modify the waveform in 5 different ways using the mode control.

It's really just an easy to build instrument that is lots of fun to play and can gives endless chip style sounds when you mess about with all the different modes.

You will need some basic tools, basic components, a circuit board, and the ability to program an 8pin PicAxe.

If you would like to buy a kit of parts including the PCB and programmed PicAxe you can find one here: Rarebeasts

Happy noise making.

Step 1: Parts

1 x 100nF Capacitor (C5)

1x 10nF Capacitor (C6)

1x 10k Pot(PCB mount) (VR2)

1x 100r Resistor (1/4W) (R5)

1x 220r Resistor (1/4W) (R9)

1x 330r Resistor (1/4W) (R11)

1x 560r Resistor (1/4W) (R12)

1x 820r Resistor (1/4W) (R13)

3x 1K Resistor (1/4W) (R8, R10, R14)

1x 2.2K Resistor (1/4W) (R15)

1x 4.7K Resistor (1/4W) (R16)

1x 8.2K Resistor (1/4W) (R17)

6x 10K Resistor (1/4W) (R2, R3, R4 , R6, R7, R18)

2x 22K Resistor (1/4W) (R1, R19)

1x 100K Resistor (1/4W) (R20)

1x 220K Resistor (1/4W) (R21)

1x Regulator 78L05 (5V) (IC3)

1x Ic Holder 8Pin

1x Toggle switch(miniature PCB mount) (S1)

1x Momentary switch (Small tactile) (S2)

1x Picaxe 08M2 (IC2)

1x 3.5mm Socket(stereo switched) (SPKR)

2x LED (Red) (LED1 LED2)

1x Battery connector(9v)

1x Project box with mounting screws(105mm x 70mm x 30mm)

1x Circuit board

1x Wire Multi strand 20cm (Pad1)

1x heat shrink (40mm)

1x 9volt battery

You will also need the ability to program an 8pin PicAxe. Programmer, program cable etc.

Step 2: Fit: Resistors, Capacitors, the Audio Connector and the IC Socket

In this step we fit the resistors, capacitors, the audio connector and the IC socket.
  • Solder the 100r (R5) resistor to the PCB.

  • Solder the 220r (R9) resistor to the PCB.

  • Solder the 330r (R11) resistor to the PCB.

  • Solder the 560r (R12) resistor to the PCB.

  • Solder the 820r (R13) resistor to the PCB.

  • Solder the 3 1K (R8, R10, R14) resistors to the PCB.

  • Solder the 2.2K (R15) resistor to the PCB.

  • Solder the 4.7K (R16) resistor to the PCB.

  • Solder the 8.2K (R17) resistor to the PCB.

  • Solder the 6 10K (R2, R3, R4, RR6, R7, R18) resistors to the PCB.

  • Solder the 2 22K (R1, R19) resistors to the PCB.

  • Solder the 100K (R20) resistor to the PCB.

  • Solder the 220K (R21) resistor to the PCB.

  • Solder the capacitors 100nF(C5) 10nF(C6) to the PCB.

  • Solder the 8pin IC socket to the PCB in the IC2 position.

  • Solder the 3.5mm audio connector to the PCB in the SPKR position.

Step 3: Fit: LEDs, Switches, Battery Connector, Potentiometer and Regulator

In this step we will be fitting the LEDs, switches, battery connector, potentiometer and regulator.
  • Solder the LEDs to the LED1 and LED2 position on the PCB. Note: the the long lead of the LED is positive.

  • Solder the voltage regulator(IC3) to the PCB. *Note the flat side of the Voltage regulator needs to be fitted on the same side as the white bar(left side) on the PCB.

  • Solder the Momentary switch the S2 position on the PCB.

  • Solder the Toggle switch to the S1 position on the PCB.

  • Solder the potentiometer(10k) to the VR2 position, it's not marked but it's to the left of R5.

  • Solder the 9v battery connector to the bottom of the pads marked PWR, red to + and black to -. *Note the battery connector is soldered to the bottom of the PCB because the battery will be inside the enclosure.

Step 4: Fit: Stylus, PCB to Enclosure

In this step we will be fitting the stylus to the PCB and fitting the PCB with the battery to the enclosure.
  • Program the PicAxe 08M2 with the file StyloBuzz.bas
  • Fit the Picaxe 08M2 to the ic socket on the PCB. *Note the Picaxe needs to be fitted with the dot indent to the top left.

  • Strip both ends of the multi strand wire and tin one end and shrink the heat shrink over the tinned end of the wire.

  • Solder the wire to the PCB at the Pad1 position.

  • Fit a 9volt battery to the battery clip.

  • Sit the PCB on top of the enclosure making sure that the battery is sitting inside.

  • Secure the enclosure to the PCB by fitting the 4 screws.

Step 5: How to Play the StyloBuzz

Now your now ready to play; Plug in some earphones or an amp, switch the StyloBuzz on and have a play.

Stylus: The stylus is pressed on one of the 13 keyboard pads to play a note.

Mode select: The mode is changed by pressing the S2 button and cycles through the 5 modes back to 1. The mode levels are adjusted using the vr2 potentiometer.


  1. Frequency: Shifts the frequency up or down.

  2. Sweep Size: Controls the amount the frequency will shift up and down.

  3. Sweep intensity: Controls how quickly the sweep frequency will change.

  4. Chopper intensity: Changes how quickly the note is strobed.

  5. Note Length: Change the length of the note.

The output is via a 3.5mm stereo socket which can be plugged into earphones, a computer sound card, mixer or amplifier.

Step 6: Mod the StyloBuzz

This is the most important step, I want you to mod this sucker. Change the code to make different sounds, change the enclosure for a mad synth look or remake the entire project using an arduino. Be creative and I'm always happy to help out with your modding.

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