Electronics

Simple MIDI synth squeezed into a USB plug

Simple MIDI synth squeezed int...
The USB MIDI "chiptunes" synth
The USB MIDI "chiptunes" synth
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The USB MIDI synth is even smaller than the tiny MIDI DIN synth from last year
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The USB MIDI synth is even smaller than the tiny MIDI DIN synth from last year
The circuitry is hidden beneath the metal housing, which is attached to a piezo buzzer
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The circuitry is hidden beneath the metal housing, which is attached to a piezo buzzer
The USB MIDI "chiptunes" synth
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The USB MIDI "chiptunes" synth
The electronics are all squeezed, shaved and shoved into the plastic frame of a USB plug
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The electronics are all squeezed, shaved and shoved into the plastic frame of a USB plug
The USB plug that's home to the "chiptunes" synth
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The USB plug that's home to the "chiptunes" synth
The pins were cut back and the electronics installed into a scraped out cavity in the black plastic frame
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The pins were cut back and the electronics installed into a scraped out cavity in the black plastic frame
Breadboarding and testing the circuit
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Breadboarding and testing the circuit
The USB MIDI "chiptunes" synth
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The USB MIDI "chiptunes" synth

A few months after creating what was claimed to be the world's smallest MIDI synthesizer, which was smaller than the capsule at the end of a 5-pin DIN cable, a self-confessed MIDI lover and prolific electronics tinkerer has managed to cram a tone generating circuit into the black plastic frame inside a USB plug.

The project began by taking a metal-encased USB plug apart to reveal the plastic frame. This was then trimmed and scraped out to make room for the circuit components. The pins were cut back and the electronics installed, which included Zener diodes flattened with a grinding wheel, capacitors and an ATtiny85 microcontroller. The circuit was covered with kapton insulation tape to help prevent it from shorting and the metal housing replaced before attaching a piezo buzzer to output the monophonic "chiptunes."

The pins were cut back and the electronics installed into a scraped out cavity in the black plastic frame
The pins were cut back and the electronics installed into a scraped out cavity in the black plastic frame

Its creator, Tim Jacobs, reckons that the build took no more than 5 hours and admits that the device is completely pointless. There are none of the envelopes, filters or oscillators you might associate with a genuine synthesizer. It's only able to function when plugged into a computer or laptop, generating square waves from MIDI data.

But he says that it wasn't built to be useful, rather for the challenge of putting it together. And in that respect, it succeeds magnificently. A walkthrough of the creation process and an example of the chirpy tunes it throws out can be seen in the video below.

Source: mitxela via Hackaday

An even smaller, even sillier synth

2 comments
Mik-Fielding
Would be great for bird song compositions!
stale
This is actual something to be very useful in the automation industry. I googled for a USB buzzyr today and this turned out as the best solution. This should be put in to commercial production! Well done!