Atari Punk Console

Introduction: Atari Punk Console

About: I am electronics and robotics enthusiast and love making new and innovative things everyday!

Hello everyone! Welcome to my first Instructable about how to make the APC or the Atari Punk Console.

The Atari Punk Console is a popular circuit that utilizes two 555 timer ICs or a single 556 dual timer IC. The original circuit is known as a "Sound Synthesizer" . It uses a few discrete components along with the IC . it was designed by the most famous Forrest M. Mims III. You can read more about it at .It's really simple and quite enjoyable to build.

Let's Begin!

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Step 1: First, a Bit of Theory

Atari Punk console is an astable square wave oscillator driving a monostable oscillator that creates a single (square) pulse. There are two controls, one for the frequency of the oscillator and one to control the width of the pulse. The controls are usually potentiometers but the circuit can also be controlled by light, temperature, pressure etc. by replacing a potentiometer with a suitable sensor (e.g., photo resistor for light sensitivity). Most of the time there is also a power switch (often a toggle switch) and a volume knob.

The Atari Punk Console is built using the 556 dual timer which consists of 2 independent 555 timers.The 555 timer IC is an integrated circuit (chip) used in a variety of timer, pulse generation, and oscillator applications. The 555 can be used to provide time delays, as an oscillator, and as a flip-flop element. Derivatives provide up to four timing circuits in one package.

The IC 555 has three operating modes:

- Bistable mode or Schmitt trigger : the 555 can operate as a flip-flop, if the DIS pin is not connected and no capacitor is used. Uses include bounce-free latched switches.

- Monostable mode :in this mode, the 555 functions as a "one-shot" pulse generator. Applications include timers, missing pulse detection, bouncefree switches, touch switches, frequency divider, capacitance measurement, pulse-width modulation (PWM) and so on.

- Astable mode : the 555 can operate as an electronic oscillator. Uses include LED and lamp flashers, pulse generation, logic clocks, tone generation, security alarms, pulse position modulation and so on. The 555 can be used as a simple ADC, converting an analog value to a pulse length (e.g., selecting a thermistor as timing resistor allows the use of the 555 in a temperature sensor and the period of the output pulse is determined by the temperature). The use of a microprocessor-based circuit can then convert the pulse period to temperature, linearize it and even provide calibration means.

Step 2: Gathering the Parts

You would need the following parts to build the Atari Punk Console :

-NE556 Dual Timer Chip

-Switch (probably any type should work)

- 3.5 mm mono Audio Jack

-Potentiometers 50K X2

-Potentiometers Knobs X2

-9v Battery

-9v Battery Connector


- Perfboard

-Resistors (all 1/4 watt)

1K X2




0.01 uF

0.1 uF

10 uF

You would need also need the following parts to build the APC:

Solder Iron

Glue Gun

Solder Wire

Step 3: the Schematic

Step 4: Building the APC

I would suggest you to first prototype the circuit on a breadboard. The image above has been taken from

Then build it on the perfboard. You can place the components on it as I have done. After Completing the circuit on the perfboard, check for any unwanted solder paths. Use a hobby knife or a paper cutter to swipe of the unwanted solder of the perfboard.

Step 5: Testing the APC

Hook up the audio cable to the audio jack of the APC and connect it's other end to a set of headphones, music player or an amplifier. Connect the 9v battery to its connector . Place on the knobs on the potentiometers and turn on the switch. You can hear the audio file to see how the APC sounds.


Step 6: Enclosing the APC

You may enclose the circuit in an electronics enclosure and glue the bottom of the perfboard with the glue gun.

Now the Atari Punk Console is complete!

Thanks! Enjoy......

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    Arush Bansal
    Arush Bansal

    Reply 4 years ago