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a instrument of my own... Answered

ive been listening to quite a bit of 8-bit sounding techno and such. And i really wanted to know if there was a way to make a computer keyboard make diferent pitched "beep" and "boops" of sorts. is there anyway to do this?


you can load soundplant on to your computer and set each key to play a certin file. thats what they use at the theatre at school. you could set the keys for differant notes and riffs go to google and type in soundplant

If there is a computer attached for sure (I am unable to view the video at the moment, I am still on dialup). I even made "music"albeit one note at a time, on my old Co-Co II....many years ago.

Due to interference from the TIMER IRQ, an oversight by MS, The CoCo has some of the nastiest buzzy sort of notes. But I guess it has a unique sound! I also have an MC-10 and it makes pure notes with the same basic program.

Also if I had time and I wanted to, I could easily hack up a PC keyboard to make notes all by itself with a PIC and a speaker.

Oh, that would be amazing. Is there anyway you could teach me to do this or make an instructable? it would be greatly appreciated!

Well the simplest way I can imagine to do it is get a cheap toy music keyboard for kids, disconnect the piano keys (or remove the circuit board) and remove the chip inside the PC keyboard and after determining the "rows and columns" pins, connect the PC keyboard to the toy chip as the toy's keyboard was connected. BUT, the result of doing THAT will definitely have the notes on keys that are in even more random order than the QWERTY alphabet. (imagine like ENTER for A , 5 for B ,SHIFT for C, W for C#...)

ok ill give it a shot. what will the chip look like and how do i connect them?

It depends. A PC keyboard has one chip in it, probably an i8048. It doesn't help make music without a PC so it can be removed. The toy piano has a chip-on-board "dot", very cheap, you have to google for "circuit bending" to see examples I guess. It's the wires that go to the toy piano keyboard that you want to hack first, when connected together any two wires either make a note or don't. You can probably get cheapo toy pianos for around $10. ... I know, I should take a picture inside of one.

Various PC and music toys, two open. It just so happens that the opened PC keyboard chip (purple) is one of those cheap dots, but that's ok, it's the wires going to the keyboard that you care about if you do this. Red and yellow arrows show music toy board and wires going to it's keyboard.


oh ok, so do i attach with iike soder or what? and is there a way i can make it so i can have it all wrapeed up into 1 device?

Yup, you have to solder, and move the music board, batteries, and speaker into the PC keyboard, and add a new switch+volume control, at least.

so the volume up and down on the keyboard would not work?

The buttons on the toy are too cheaply made to move in to the PC keyboard.

hmm, the computer part may be a bit hard for me, ive never coded anything before. Worth a shot though, and im sure that this topic will eventually make a great instructable while i start to work.

ok. circuit bending has been fun for me. but now i have another challenge, there is a instructable up on how to make a dj mixing tabel with the carboard box and analog mouse. i figured wouldnt it be cool to make a attachment for my macbook with a spinner on the side and a usb keyboard on the front making the sounds i please with djing and keyboard programs. only problem is the garage band feature only allows a small bit of the keyboard to make music instead of the entire any suggestions?

Oh, BTW Cool Video. It would be easy to do that with
an old 8-bit computer or two, obtainable practically only
from eBay, if you lived in Alaska and had a whole dark
boring winter to cheer up in by teaching yourself how to
program ancient computers that 10 year old kids used
to do this all the time on in the 1980s.

Here's another one:Junior Senior

Well, I haven't fired up the ole lady (Co-Co) in a long time, so I don't really remember. At the time it was fascinating though.

I GOT IT! In garage band there is a option allowing me to use my keyboard as well a keyboard and with that 8-bit plug in its perfect thanks!

sweet thanks! hmm now i wonder if theres a way to make a program like garage band use my computer keyboard as my computer keyboard. hmmmmmm ill see if theres a plugin

Though I can't help you out on your question, I can give you another bit of advice: If you see a comment, and you want to tell them something, instead of clicking Add Comment at the top and bottom of the page, in the bottom right corner of the comment, there should be text that says Reply. Click it, and type, so that the person knows you got their info, and can help you out further, if needed.

hmmm, i downloaded vice, andsome c64 synth stuff but whenver i open it i get nothing. Are there any programs that i can just straight up open and play with my keyboard? Or are there any ways i can like ciurcet bend to make a keyboard and a old computer make some sounds


10 years ago

It's not really 8-bit sound, but zynaddsubfx is a really powerful synth package with a 'virtual keyboard' (uses your computer kbd.) Works on both Windoz and Linux. I bet you could make patches that sound primitive and 8-bit-ish.

Try some old school C64 music software with the Vice Commodore 64 emulator. It has software SID support. There are SID players for Windows, also (but not 'real time', AFAIK.)

Or just pickup an old 8-bit computer...

sweet, i have a macbook would i just end up using that as the machine itself or is there a way to take a keyboard an hook it up to like commodore 64. or some old tower running like windows 2.0