WalkSX from Gijs on Vimeo.

As the Sony Walkman turns 30, many of the mobile cassette’s fans wax nostalgic. But it takes Gijs Gieskes to wire up a new Rube Goldberg-style musical instrument based on the Walkman’s simple tape playback.

Follow along carefully through the signal flow of this unusual instrument:

1. The Walkman has audio on the tape itself, sampled from a Roland TR-808 drum machine.

2. Because a compact cassette has two tracks (left and right, for stereo), one track is dedicated to the drums, another to the rim shot.

3. The rim shot track is fed as a mono audio input to an Arduino (the open-source microcontroller platform). The Arduino responds to the audio level, so each time a rim shot hit occurs, it ….

4. …sends a sequence event to the Gakken SX-150. That means that you can adjust the speed of the whole contraption by…

5. …adjusting the speed of the tape. (Bless you, analog playback!)

It takes Gijs to think that way somehow: put together, these elements are actually fairly simple, but strikingly effective. Fortunately, if this does inspire new ideas, Gijs has posted all his Arduino code, so you can check this out and try something yourself.


  • I've never been one for dance parties or raves, but if one were happening that focused on DJs making and using this kind of inventive gear, I would definitely check it out. I can't dance, though, so I'd be hanging out by the bar. 🙂

  • Sasa Rasa

    The last version of Bhajis Loops for PalmOS was able to do something similar.

    From http://www.chocopoolp.com/bj_features.php
    "Analog clock synchronization: the left and right channels of music are mixed and output on the left channel, and a 24ppqn clock signal is generated on the right channel"

  • tobamai

    Some of the projects on this site are straight out of the labs of mad scientists. They're crazy, but maybe that's why I love 'em.

  • cody

    Can't you just record CV to the tape?

  • does anyone understand how he is speeding up and slowing down the tape? it seems to be a potentiometer on the arduino board but what is that pot doing to the walkman to control the tape speed? its a wonderful creation. and the code is nicely done. inspiring.

  • there is already a potentiemeter on each walkman to tune the right speed, you have to open the walkman to access it or sometimes there is a little hole on the back of the walkman,

    i have got a friend who had made his first mix tape with a walkman and a tape recorder, he used to play with that feature

  • i definetely don't know nothing about phisical computing

  • Pingback: Synth « Electric Mud()

  • Gijs, you got too much time…as i told you 1000 times before 😉

  • Loved it! Thanks!!!

  • Gijs is a Genius. I have a HSS2C and it's really worth checking those too.