This post contains instructions on how to create your own Frequency Modulation Synthesizer using only simple and cheap components. This project revolves around the Arduino Nano Board which can be picked up for around £2. This is a great project for beginers to delve into the world of electronic music device creation. If you are looking to learn how to build your own synthesizer, you have found the right place!
Here is a demonstration video of the synthesizer in action!
– Arduino Nano Board
– Audio Socket (1/4″ or 1/8″, I prefer 1/4″)
– 5x Potentiometer (doesn’t matter too much what the resistance value is, they might all need to match 100k is good)
– Micro USB Cable (different arduinos use different cables – check!)
– Solder & Soldering Iron
– Electric Wire
– Some Kind of Speaker/ music system
– Additional: Breadboard, Light Variable Resistor, Case/Housing
1. Solder Potentiometers & Audio Socket to Arduino Nano
2. Upload Code to your Arduino (How To Guide)
3. Test It
4. Put in case
Solder the middle leg of each potentiometer to it’s own analog input on the arduino board (A0-A7). Connect the left leg to power (marked as 5V), and connect the right leg to ground. (it doesnt matter too much which side they go to, but it affects which way the knob is turned).
2. Then soldier the audio connector, hot terminal to arduino digital pin 9 (D9), cold terminalo to arduino ground.
I find it easiest to solder all the wires to the potentiometers first, then attach the wires to the arduino board. You can use a breadboard at this stage to test it out, or you will need to solder your arduino to some stripboard.
You should hopefully have something that looks like this:
Note: you will need to make sure legs of the arduino are not connected. This might be ok depending on the stripboard you have, but I had to drill out the strips that connected the legs.
3. Uploading Code:
The next step is to upload the code (aka “sketch”) to the arduino board.
After you have installed Arduino IDE Software + Mozzi Libraries, Open the Arduino IDE Software, and connect your arduino to your computer. Ensure you have selected the correct board and port on the software (MORE INFO HERE).
CODE: The code we will be using in this case is an adaptation of a Mozzi Example Code. Delete all the text in the arduino code box and copy and paste the code FROM THIS LINK – CLICK HERE FOR CODE.
Once you have pasted the code, and ensured in the “Tools” menu you have the correct “board” and “port” settings,
the lights on the board should flash and you will eventualy recieve an upload complete message!
4. Your synth should now be ready to start making noises!
The arduino nano board will be powered by the USB cable so all thats left to do now is to plug it into your speakers or audio interface and start going crazy…
after this you can mount the circuit and potentiometers in a case, this can be anything, a tin etc. then you can stick some knobs on it.
Send in photos of your synth creation or comment for advice!
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