Wish you could build your own music devices? Our friend Jason Kramer points to the Critter Board, a “hardware platform for creating self-contained electronic music devices.” The board looks great: it’s based on the 32-bit 58 MHz ARM microcontroller and programmed in C, like some other boards, but features a unique setup perfect for making musical toys: 21 I/O connections for adding knobs, sensors, LEDs, and the like, flash memory support for storing sounds, and a line out jack.

Of course, all of that is meaningless if you don’t already know how to build electronics projects. Fortunately, there’s a growing collection of very tasty tutorial examples for MIDI, synthesis, and audio:

Critter Board Tutorials

Best so far: a 4-voice FM synth in a cigar box. Jason writes:

just got mine today, I actually bought one of Owen’s one-off projects touted as a tutorial to demonstrate a possible application for them; the 4 Voice Cigar Box Synth. It sounds pretty amazing, but apparently it can do way more just make sounds.

The board itself is US$64.95, including the flash card socket, and can be programmed via any Mac, Windows, or Linux machine using the USB programmer. You can also buy the pre-built FM synth for US$190, but where’s the fun in that?

And more projects from these guys are on the way — stay tuned!

Speaking of which, for those of you who add visuals to your work, as well, whether it’s custom imagery or just a simple controller screen, try pairing this with the video version on CDMusic’s sister site:

Video Critter: Custom, DIY Video Synthesis [Create Digital Motion]

  • I'm loving mine, it's a lot of fun! the fact that it's a polyphonic/FM synth makes it surprisingly rich and quite sweet and clean sounding as well. Although mine came all ready assembled, I'm thinking of adding some additional functionality to it, cause I think there are four or five open i/o's inside. I was hoping maybe to get it to interact with some of my older synths thru their CV/Gate in's. – jk

  • slabman

    I wonder if this could be used to develop some voltage controlled modules that would sit in an otherwise analogue modular synth. Something like the new Buchlas.

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