Last year, sonic wizard Sam Battle transformed an old kids bike into a rolling synthesizer. The faster the Synth Bike 2.0 was pedaled, the quicker the beat. Now he's updated the design for a Science Gallery Dublin exhibit, plonking an analog synth and drum sequencer between the handlebars of a BMX. As with the earlier hack, the faster the rider pedals, the faster the tempo – but this time, the Synth Bike 3.0 goes nowhere fast.
The 1973 Raleigh Chopper sacrificed for the Synth Bike 2.0 certainly gave it some cool retro chic, but the coffin-shaped synth control panel wasn't exactly user friendly. This is something Battle has rectified in the next iteration, which was "designed to be ridden by any Tom, Rick or Sandra."
UPGRADE TO NEW ATLAS PLUS
More than 1,500 New Atlas Plus subscribers directly support our journalism, and get access to our premium ad-free site and email newsletter. Join them for just US$19 a year.UPGRADE
"Every function is on the front panel, there isn't anything hidden," he told New Atlas. "It can be quite daunting but it's all immediate. You twist a knob, or flick a switch you'll hear the effect. It's got a bass synth, with two oscillators. One analog and one wavetable oscillator on an Arduino, this goes into a 303 style filter and VCA from frequency central. Along with a load of effects and such. It's a really fun sequencer with switches to make it slide into the next note, or pluck really quickly."
Controls for the synth sit at the top of the console, with banks of switches below for the drum sequencer. The neatness and order up top disguises chaos underneath, where 12 Arduino Nanos, strip circuit boards, frequency central PCBs and a Sparkfun WAV trigger are brought together in a colorful mess of cable spaghetti. The handlebar-mounted control box also has its own speakers to output the synth creations.
Where riders of the Synth Bike 2.0 could wander far and wide on tune-creation quests, version 3.0 has been hitched up to a trainer so that the bike remains static. This means that the sound box can be hooked up to a wall outlet for power, while also providing a living room-friendly, beat-producing exercise machine.
Finally, magnets attached to the rear wheel help set the tempo and the wheel spins around.
You can see the build and hear the tones in the video below, and if you want to try it out yourself – the Synth Bike 3.0 is part of the Sound Check exhibition at the Science Gallery Dublin until September.
Source: Sam Battle