SVP Technology at Fiserv; large scale system architecture/infrastructure, tech geek, reading, learning, hiking, GeoCaching, ham radio, married, kids
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Commodore 64 + Raspberry Pi 4 = Synth6581

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We have a special blog today from one of our own design engineers, Simon Martin. He’s the designer of Raspberry Pi 400 and our High Quality Camera and spends his free time tinkering with electronic music.

This video is a classic. Settle in…

Simon has wanted to make his own electronic musical instrument with Raspberry Pi for some time. He designed a circuit board for the project a year ago, but it lay around in a drawer in his desk while he finished Raspberry Pi 400. Finally, the winter months gave him the incentive to get it working. 

Simon’s electronic musical journey

Simon: The Synth6581 device doesn’t look much like an electronic musical instrument, but just like circuit boards stacked on top of a Raspberry Pi 4. You have to plug a musical keyboard into a USB port and a pair of speakers into the audio jack on the bottom board to make it work.

Hefty stack ready to play some electronic music

The code is written almost entirely in Python, with a little bit of C to speed up the communications to the chips. I designed and laid out the circuit boards, which were ordered online. The first six boards cost only £20, but the components were another £100. I spent more than a day soldering the components on the boards by hand. It took much more time to check every chip and connection worked, a common problem with hand-soldering new boards.

Synth6581 — no ordinary sounding instrument

The 1982 Commodore 64 – works like Raspberry Pi 400, only slower

And Synth6581 is no ordinary sounding musical instrument. It’s based on the music chip inside a vintage computer: the Commodore 64. The microchips are almost forty years old and they have a quirky sound that kids in the 1980s loved and parents hated. By the way, did you know that the Commodore 64 was the inspiration for Raspberry Pi 400?

The SID chip sound

The MOS6581 SID chip — just a little smaller than a Raspberry Pi Pico board

I was one of many hobby programmers in the 1980s that used to attempt to program Commodore 64s. Much like people today dabble with programming on Raspberry Pi 400s, kids and adults were dabbling with the BASIC programming language on their Commodore 64s back then. Nowadays, Raspberry Pis have video, graphics, and audio readily available, but back in the 1980s, the hardware registers had to be ‘poked’ one by one into the console window. You had to get quite technical just to get the computer to make a musical sound. Those sounds came from the MOS6581 or ‘SID’ chip. It had such a famous sound character that it formed the basis of the chiptune music genre, and people are still writing music on Commodore 64s today.

Using BASIC POKE commands to control SID chips on a Commodore 64. Not the easiest thing to read.

Poking SID chips

By borrowing a few chips from broken Commodore 64s, including one or two lying around Raspberry Pi Towers, I made those 1980s ping noises into a polyphonic synthesiser controlled in Python on Raspberry Pi. The registers in the SID chips are simply being ‘poked’ by Raspberry Pi instead of Commodore 64. I also reverse-engineered the music from old games and made the sound effects and instruments work across the keyboard.

Simon with his creation
Simon with his electronic music creation

One of a kind electronic musical device

This device is unique: only one of these will ever be built, so please don’t wait for a launch date. There were over 10 million chips manufactured for Commodore 64, but production of the chips ended nearly 30 years ago. The Commodore 64s and spare parts for them are still in high demand, which is pushing up second hand prices. Nonetheless, the code and schematics are available online on GitHub, and I invite other Raspberry Pi users to use them to make musical instruments out of other games consoles. I reckon Sega Megadrive has a lot of potential for a Raspberry Pi port…

Simon Martin youtube channel
A few of the demos of the electronic instrument on Simon’s YouTube channel

For more video demos of this instrument, head to my YouTube channel.

The post Commodore 64 + Raspberry Pi 4 = Synth6581 appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

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JayM
4 minutes ago
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Beat It on that sounded pretty dang good.
Atlanta, GA
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Juneteenth is the newest federal holiday: Here’s what’s open and what’s closed

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Most federal employees will have the day off, according to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Juneteenth officially became a federal holiday yesterday when President Joe Biden signed into law legislation that Congress passed earlier in the week.

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JayM
10 minutes ago
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Atlanta, GA
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These community banking institutions should be the center of the recovering economy

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Big corporations should redouble their support for community development financial institutions, which are designed to the kind of business that will make the recovery more equitable.

The light at the end of the pandemic tunnel is growing brighter, but a complete small business recovery is going to take time, money, and a concerted effort. And if it is going to be an equitable recovery that helps under-resourced small businesses—those owned by women, entrepreneurs of color, and those in rural communities—we must continue to enable and empower community development financial institutions (CDFIs)—nonprofit lenders that did yeoman’s work during the depths of COVID-19 to distribute federal aid to the hardest-to-reach small businesses in our country.

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JayM
11 minutes ago
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Atlanta, GA
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Don’t just put a rainbow on it. Build a culture rooted in authenticity and belonging

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LinkedIn’s vice president of Global Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging who is lesbian Afro-Latina says the journey to inclusion lives in everyday workplace interactions and organizational policies, and processes and small changes can make a huge difference.

June marks Pride Month, a time to recognize the vast contributions of the LGBTQ+ community and reflect on the progress we’ve made and how far we still must go to achieve equal rights and equity in our workplaces. As a lesbian woman, who is Afro-Latina, my identity puts me at the intersection of many different worlds. It also makes the topic of diversity, inclusion, and belonging inherently personal to me. Being a multifaceted human being is what inspired my own awareness of the alchemy that results when our human differences are valued, appreciated, and welcomed. And as the diversity, inclusion and belonging leader at LinkedIn, I know that when I am authentic, I provide the space for others to express their authenticity, too.

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JayM
15 minutes ago
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I am like un-diverse… white cis male. :)

The world is made of up of so many different human beings… why wouldn’t I want to know and learn from as many as a possibly can?! Whether it is life experience, beliefs, choices in who to love (or not), regional history, skin color, how a person copes with stress, how much a person loves a certain type of music or art, a single mom of 2 kids, a confirmed bachelor, or a husband and wife with 38 kids, or a communal family of a few moms and dads or whatever… I could keep going on and on. We all are as unique as we are; we each have a unique viewpoint and we each bring something different to the table (I hope). The more diverse those around the table are - the better the chance of us having incredibly well honed ideas and execution.

By the way, some of my bits of diversity are that I didn’t go to college and I was raised by a single mom after an accident took half my family when I was two and half. What I have been able to learn and execute throughout my career and now as an SVP of Platform Engineering for Fiserv, Fortune 205 company, has been without a formal higher education. That said, happy to argue the details of my org’s P&L statement or get into the nitty gritty of how we are doing infrastructure as code… or how as a leader I do my best to give folks the freedom and desire to change and grow new skills for the modern age.

BTW, I still love rainbows. But yes, is about much more than just coloring your logo and everything else with primary and secondary colors… I mean what about the “rest” of the colors too, there at least 16,777,210 more…

May everyone have a peaceful and joyful Juneteenth.
Atlanta, GA
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Scratch Built Tracked Robot Reporting for Duty

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Inspired by battle-hardened military robots, [Engineering Juice] wanted to build his own remote controlled rover that could deliver live video from the front lines. But rather than use an off-the-shelf tracked robot chassis, he decided to design and 3D print the whole thing from scratch. While the final product might not be bullet proof, it certainly doesn’t seem to have any trouble traveling through sand and other rough terrain.

Certainly the most impressive aspect of this project is the roller chain track and suspension system, which consists of more than 200 individual printed parts, fasteners, bearings, and linkages. Initially, [Engineering Juice] came up with a less complex suspension system for the robot, but unfortunately it had a tendency to bind up during testing. However the new and improved design, which uses four articulated wheels on each side, provides an impressive balance between speed and off-road capability.

Internally there’s a Raspberry Pi 4 paired with an L298 dual H-bridge controller board to drive the heavy duty gear motors. While the Pi is running off of a standard USB power bank, the drive motors are supplied by a custom 18650 battery pack utilizing a 3D printed frame to protect and secure the cells. A commercial night vision camera solution that connects to the Pi’s CSI header is mounted in the front, with live video being broadcast back to the operator over WiFi.

To actually control the bot, [Engineering Juice] has come up with a Node-RED GUI that’s well suited to a smartphone’s touch screen. Of course with all the power and flexibility of the Raspberry Pi, you could come up with whatever sort of control scheme you wanted. Or perhaps even go all in and make it autonomous. It looks like there’s still plenty of space inside the robot for additional hardware and sensors, so we’re interested to see where things go from here.

Got a rover project in mind that doesn’t need the all-terrain capability offered by tracks? A couple of used “hoverboards” can easily be commandeered to create a surprisingly powerful wheeled platform to use as a base.

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JayM
40 minutes ago
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Nice
Atlanta, GA
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There is no “us” in team

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JayM
43 minutes ago
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Interesting insights that on initial read I agree with!
Atlanta, GA
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