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A DIY kit containing all that is required to have a fully functional Gecho. One SMD and 6 THT elements remaining to be assembled, plus a few wires. What is it? Digital, polyphonic pocket synthesize...Read More…
A DIY kit containing all that is required to have a fully functional Gecho. One SMD and 6 THT elements remaining to be assembled, plus a few wires.
Digital, polyphonic pocket synthesizer controlled by buttons, infra-red proximity sensors and a magnetic sensor, which you can influence by a "Magician's ring".
Whenever you power it on, it becomes a meditation tool, source of endless music from your environment... or an amusing sound processor reacting to your voice, other instruments and various objects that make sound or noise. You wouldn't believe how interestingly a random thing will sound!
Listen to textures, vibrations, magnetic fields and infra-red light. Connect it to other small synths, DIY projects and gadgets. Let it play chord progressions in the background while you practice, or be an instant inspiration when you get stuck while composing.
There is a lot of demo videos on my channel.
While experimenting with the great "Discovery" and "Nucleo" boards from STMicroelectronics, I often ended up building contraptions like this. Spending lunch breaks coding in coffee-shops, I wished to have all the hardware in a more compact format, and it occurred to me that apart from a very handy development platform, it may become an interesting music instrument too. After few iterations, I've showcased the prototype on Kickstarter where it was met with very enthusiastic response and got funded to 204%. Also, after people received it, the feedback was very positive overall.
People who own it, call it "the intriguing, amusing or even unputdownable little gadget". I am still struggling to define what it really is - instead, I'm spending time to push it towards its potential. Can we call it a reverse music instrument, where you don't play the song but everything else around it? You can compose songs in form of chord progressions and melodies, but the real magic happens after you hit "play".
Still, it surely is a quite interesting form factor for a "playable" polyphonic synth. It can even have a MIDI input and output, it is easy to add it if you so wish. Only two or three "channels" (i.e. presets) are playable through MIDI for now, but features like this are constantly getting better with new releases.
Gecho is a custom designed, business-card sized board, integrating a very popular STM32F4 Cortex-M4 MCU (1MB FLASH, 192kB SRAM, 210DMIPS) with advanced and reliable DAC (CS43L22), two very sensitive (52dB) electret microphones, 4-channel pre-amp (LMV324), four proximity sensors (QRE1113GR), one linear magnetic sensor (SS49E) and 28 colourful LED lights. For your convenience it has two outputs, good for recording or sharing the experience with someone. One input accommodates piezo pickups, electric guitar or any other source. All connectors are 3.5mm stereo jacks, A/D converter and signal lines from sensors are protected against voltage spikes.
The board has ton of hackability potential, various signals are exposed on soldering pads (not highlighted in the picture, there are also four smaller pads to connect small 8 Ohm speakers; CS43L22 integrates a stereo Class D speaker amplifier too).
It is compatible with other development boards so you can easily download and adapt software written by someone else. You will receive all source codes for the "official" software, schematic and diagrams.
This is your opportunity to learn basic DSP coding. Whether you are familiar with 8-bit platforms or not, maybe you feel like exploring the power of 32-bit, and learn something about the ARM architecture too. For example, invent your own guitar effects. Implement tuner, metronome, drum sequencer or colourful VU-meter. Control it remotely via serial line (USART or serial over USB). Drive LED stripes, MIDI gear, even servo motors. Read data from gyros. Code sound and touch triggered games, follow tutorials, learn and have fun!
Since cameras, lighting conditions and monitor calibration have influence on how colours appear on screen, to give you better impression here is a picture showing all three finishes under various conditions (first row is Light Oak, second row Antique Oak and third row Ebony).
Please note that rechargeable batteries are not included due to shipping restrictions. They are common types, you can buy them locally or on-line. The 14500 format is almost identical to AA battery (apart from voltage). Your kit will include a standard AA holder to accommodate it. For 18650 format, two contacts are provided to be glued to the sides of internal compartment of the box. Charging module is standard circuit utilizing TP4056, with DW-01P and 8205A dual mosfet for over-current protection.
Gecho is meant to be a stand-alone device, and everything (1) can be done using buttons - however an app is provided (2) (so far, Windows only) to program your compositions in a more handy way, and to download firmware updates and flash them into your board (3).
usually, new functionality appears in the app first, then is migrated to the firmware
the linked article and demo video is old, app has since significantly evolved
if you use Mac or Linux, you will need to upload new binaries manually, at least for now
This is relatively new development and lot of things is still under construction. Updates are released frequently (usually twice a month).
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Shipping to United States starts at $14.00
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Mario is a programmer by education and hardware engineer by trade. He is also aspiring artist and loves music, sound and everything that surrounds it.