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Game Boy Analog Sync (video)
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Modular Synth General Discussion  
Author Game Boy Analog Sync (video)
unexpectedbowtie
I got into modular synths (and electronic music generally) from the chipmusic world, and I've been looking for different ways to integrate my Game Boys with the Eurorack.

I picked up this dedicated analog sync box from DigDugDIY in New York, which lets you either clock the modular from the DMG, or vice versa. I finally got a chance to try it out tonight, and recorded a wee example video as there's not too many of them kicking about.



Here the Game Boy is being clocked from the Trigger Riot, which is also triggering some drum modules (Uoki Toki and Pico). Pretty simple patch, but the possibilities are pretty exciting. I need to look into how to switch seamlessly between presets on the Trigger Riot...

Does anybody else have examples of similar setups? Worth checking out DigDug's Etsy shop as he has some cool stuff come up from time to time:

https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/digdugDIY
unexpectedbowtie
Just found the BeatSync setting... very frustrating
Huba-Swift
I got a ton of old Gameboys too (I think around seven or eight) and I've had thought about making some chiptune with them but never have. This looks pretty sweet, but how do you program melodies into the Gameboy's sound chip? or play it from an external keyboard (if a mod like that is even possible). I'd like to try attempting something like this too.
ranix
I use a hacked up Sega Genesis sometimes but it's been a little redundant since I got the DX7
Infinity Curve
Check out nanoloop or lsdj. I much prefer nanoloop, but in some ways lsdj is more capable, but I don't enjoy the tracker interface. Nanoloop is much more immediate, better for jamming for me. Both are capable of analog and midi sync, and you don't need anything but an old gameboy to gameboy link cable to do it, just hack one end to an 1/8in jack and away you go. Pinout and explanation on how to do it are on the nanoloop website.

Nanoloop you can buy from the guy that makes it, few different versions available with different functionality/features for the different models of gameboys. I prefer the original gameboy version, but the gameboy advance version has some nice extra features like some polyphony etc. He also just released nanoloop mono, which is basically an analog synth with 808 sounding drum section running through a gameboy, with analog filters and everything. Sounds really nice, but only just got it, so haven't dug too deep. Same interface as the original nanoloop, so easy to pick up if you are already familiar.

http://www.nanoloop.com


For Lsdj you just buy a rom cart and then you buy a licence for lsdj form the creator for a couple bucks and download it, put it on your rom cart and away you go.

http://store.kitsch-bent.com/product/usb-64m-smart-card

http://www.littlesounddj.com/lsd/

Tons of info and videos online on how to use both. Lsdj will take a bit of time to come to grips with, nanoloop is pretty easy to pick up
Huba-Swift
Infinity Curve wrote:
Check out nanoloop or lsdj. I much prefer nanoloop, but in some ways lsdj is more capable, but I don't enjoy the tracker interface. Nanoloop is much more immediate, better for jamming for me. Both are capable of analog and midi sync, and you don't need anything but an old gameboy to gameboy link cable to do it, just hack one end to an 1/8in jack and away you go. Pinout and explanation on how to do it are on the nanoloop website.

Nanoloop you can buy from the guy that makes it, few different versions available with different functionality/features for the different models of gameboys. I prefer the original gameboy version, but the gameboy advance version has some nice extra features like some polyphony etc. He also just released nanoloop mono, which is basically an analog synth with 808 sounding drum section running through a gameboy, with analog filters and everything. Sounds really nice, but only just got it, so haven't dug too deep. Same interface as the original nanoloop, so easy to pick up if you are already familiar.

http://www.nanoloop.com


For Lsdj you just buy a rom cart and then you buy a licence for lsdj form the creator for a couple bucks and download it, put it on your rom cart and away you go.

http://store.kitsch-bent.com/product/usb-64m-smart-card

http://www.littlesounddj.com/lsd/

Tons of info and videos online on how to use both. Lsdj will take a bit of time to come to grips with, nanoloop is pretty easy to pick up
Hey, that's sweet, thanks! Most are out of stock right now, but once they're back in I'll check it out.
unexpectedbowtie
Huba-Swift wrote:
I got a ton of old Gameboys too (I think around seven or eight) and I've had thought about making some chiptune with them but never have. This looks pretty sweet, but how do you program melodies into the Gameboy's sound chip? or play it from an external keyboard (if a mod like that is even possible). I'd like to try attempting something like this too.


What Infinity said is right! LSDJ or Nanoloop are the two main options. The former is more of an in-depth tracker, and the latter is... well, it's totally different.

I prefer LSDJ for songwriting as it has a lot more control, and you can send MIDI out (CC/clock/notes), which is pretty wild. It's become my favourite sequencer as a result... That said, Nanoloop is great fun.

You just need a Game Boy and a cartridge to start making music, but once you get into it there are all sorts of things you can do, like backlighting the screen (almost a must unless you have awesome eyesight), installing line level audio, MIDI mods... etc. I've been doing Game Boy music for about 6-7 years, and it's crazy how far things have come, and how accessible they all are now.

Kitsch has the USB 64MB carts in stock just now if you want to try out LSDJ. There's a few different options, but that's the one I use.

In terms of other ways to interact... if you want to 'play' the Game Boy like a synth, that is possible. You would need an Arduinoboy (also available at Kitsch) which lets you connect up MIDI DIN cables to the Game Boy, and then some free software called MGB to put on the cartridge. Then it plays just like another sound module, and sounds awesome!

There's loads of good info available over on http://chipmusic.org if you're interested smile
Huba-Swift
unexpectedbowtie wrote:
Huba-Swift wrote:
I got a ton of old Gameboys too (I think around seven or eight) and I've had thought about making some chiptune with them but never have. This looks pretty sweet, but how do you program melodies into the Gameboy's sound chip? or play it from an external keyboard (if a mod like that is even possible). I'd like to try attempting something like this too.


What Infinity said is right! LSDJ or Nanoloop are the two main options. The former is more of an in-depth tracker, and the latter is... well, it's totally different.

I prefer LSDJ for songwriting as it has a lot more control, and you can send MIDI out (CC/clock/notes), which is pretty wild. It's become my favourite sequencer as a result... That said, Nanoloop is great fun.

You just need a Game Boy and a cartridge to start making music, but once you get into it there are all sorts of things you can do, like backlighting the screen (almost a must unless you have awesome eyesight), installing line level audio, MIDI mods... etc. I've been doing Game Boy music for about 6-7 years, and it's crazy how far things have come, and how accessible they all are now.

Kitsch has the USB 64MB carts in stock just now if you want to try out LSDJ. There's a few different options, but that's the one I use.

In terms of other ways to interact... if you want to 'play' the Game Boy like a synth, that is possible. You would need an Arduinoboy (also available at Kitsch) which lets you connect up MIDI DIN cables to the Game Boy, and then some free software called MGB to put on the cartridge. Then it plays just like another sound module, and sounds awesome!

There's loads of good info available over on http://chipmusic.org if you're interested smile
That's really neat. A bit more digging and I found out that it's also possible to use a Gameboy as a 4-channel sequencer that would be possible to hook up to a modular. I'm surprised more wigglers with Gameboys lying around aren't getting into this.
unexpectedbowtie
Huba-Swift wrote:
That's really neat. A bit more digging and I found out that it's also possible to use a Gameboy as a 4-channel sequencer that would be possible to hook up to a modular. I'm surprised more wigglers with Gameboys lying around aren't getting into this.


Right! You can use LSDJ as a MIDI controller essentially, which is awesome. I've not got much experience or gear for MIDI to CV, but when recording Game Boy tracks, I've been using the DMG channels to control three synths and a drum machine... so, for example, in my DAW it would be:

1. Game Boy channel 1 - pulse
2. Game Boy channel 2 - pulse
3. Game Boy channel 3 - wav
4. Game Boy channel 4 - noise (drums)
5. Game Boy channel 1 MIDI out - Twisted Electrons TherapSID
6. Game Boy channel 2 MIDI out - Dreadbox Erebus
7. Game Boy channel 3 MIDI out - Dreadbox Hades
8. Game Boy channel 4 MIDI out - Drum machine (Volca Beats or Vermona or something)

That's the sort of method I used to record my latest album if you're curious...

https://bowtie.bandcamp.com/album/tokyo

I'll need to try out MIDI to CV in general though. It would be pretty awesome to use the Game Boy to sequence the modular. The convertors are just so expensive though for just single channels, and I don't have any more HP space (unless I get a new rack, which I'm really trying not to do!)

I really love the LSDJ sequencer. It's much more feature filled than a lot of other hardware sequencers, but still limited enough to stimulate creativity. I can sequence wherever I am as well, which is nice. The BSP for example has only 2 channels (+1 drum), whereas the Game Boy has the 3 (+1).

There's an internal mod variation of the above box that some guy called Joe Bleeps has just come up with, where you install an analog sync port in the Game Boy shell directly, which is pretty cool. I tried it out on my latest build that I finished today:



The bottom right socket is the sync jack. The one thing I noticed is that I had to send the modular clock into an envelope first for the Game Boy to recognise it, which was a bit odd... but no big deal.
Infinity Curve
I've found it varies from one clock source to the other, depends on the pulse width of the output. Gameboy doesn't seem to like really short triggers

When nanoloop first added analog sync, I built a sync adaptor with an old link cable, an old plastic gameboy cartridge case and a couple 1/8jacks. So I just connect the link cable to the gameboy and I have a jack for sync in and sync out ready to hook up to whatever. Easy as pie.

Good idea adding it to the case itself, might have to try that out. Sync in only, ya?
unexpectedbowtie
Infinity Curve wrote:
I've found it varies from one clock source to the other, depends on the pulse width of the output. Gameboy doesn't seem to like really short triggers


The weird thing is that it worked fine with the external box and the Trigger Riot clock out, but not when going directly into the DMG. hmmm.....

Quote:

Good idea adding it to the case itself, might have to try that out. Sync in only, ya?


Stick in a switch and you can have both in and out!

Infinity Curve
Oh, nice!! I'm totally going to do that on one of my dmg's.

Strange about the sync input. Maybe try patching the clock to a buffered mult and then to the dmg? I've never really run into issues with mine aside from skipping pulses if they're too short
unexpectedbowtie
Infinity Curve wrote:
Oh, nice!! I'm totally going to do that on one of my dmg's.

Strange about the sync input. Maybe try patching the clock to a buffered mult and then to the dmg? I've never really run into issues with mine aside from skipping pulses if they're too short


Yeah, it's odd. It's fine with an envelope... I don't actually have a buffered mult eek! I'll have a play and see if I can work out why.

Post back pictures! Here's how the side of mine looks. I bodged the drilling for the main hole as the vice wasn't set properly and it slipped, but ah well...



The second hole - on the right - is a teeny tiny dip-switch that I can flip with a flathead screwdriver or pen or whatever to switch from IN/OUT sync. Pretty cool.
Infinity Curve
Do you have any other clocks you can patch to it? Even a square wave from an lfo should do it.
unexpectedbowtie
Infinity Curve wrote:
Do you have any other clocks you can patch to it? Even a square wave from an lfo should do it.


Yeah! It works with an LFO, and with an envelope or whatever. It'd just be awesome to be able to directly patch it into Tempi or from the clock out of the Trigger Riot. No big deal though smile

Let me know if you do the mod!
Rob_C
Nice work unexpectedbowtie.

You and Look Mum No Computer (LMNC) seem like kindred spirits. LMNC has 32 gameboys synced together in his Gameboy Megamachine:

Link->Gameboy Megamachine

Musical demonstration starts at 14:50.
spilthyfred
Have you messed around with the NerdSeq? You can control it with a SEGA controller which is pretty cool.
unexpectedbowtie
spilthyfred wrote:
Have you messed around with the NerdSeq? You can control it with a SEGA controller which is pretty cool.


Not sure why I didn't get a notification for this!

I've seen NerdSeq, but haven't played with one. My eyesight is pretty crap, so I'd struggle to see the screen if it was rack mounted. Dead Banana
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