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Chiptune Tech: Ep.6 – DMG-01 and Chiptune Music

Category : Blogs, Chiptune Tech, Mods · Comments · by Aug 5th, 2017

How’s it going everyone? In episode 6 of Chiptune Tech, Anthony talks about the pros and cons of the DMG-01 for making chiptune music. He will talk about the sound, ease of modifying, and the CPU limitations. Welcome to a new episode of Chiptune Tech!

Links
NeX’s Megatron DMG-01: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6y3_B2kH7dY
Installing a Gameboy Pocket Screen in a DMG-01: http://chipmusic.org/forums/topic/14000/solved-pocket-lcd-in-dmg/
Lithium Ion Battery
Kitsch-Bent: http://store.kitsch-bent.com
Nonfinite Electronics: http://nonelectronics.com
Retro Modding: https://www.retromodding.com
CM.o Forum: http://chipmusic.org
Contact us: mikee@ohmnohmnohm.com

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New days of decay – An interview with Jack Rubinstein

Category : Mods, Music · Comments · by Aug 8th, 2016

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Jack Rubinstein is a Chiptune musician in Las Vegas who writes music under the name solo name De La Decay,  two piece Decaying Tigers and builds custom glitch equipment under the moniker Decaying Electronics. He can be seen posting on the Glitch Art Collective Facebook page

Michael Television: How did you start off with circuit-bending and modding electronics?

Jack Rubinstein: I make Chiptune music so the first thing I modded was my Game Boy. A few years ago I started with the pro sound mod then went to doing led backlights. The reason I did the mods because modified Game Boys on eBay were like  $90 easy. I’m cheap and I wanted to get my hands dirty so I performed the surgery myself.

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To compliment my chiptune music, I opened up a Nintendo NES. followed some instructions on how to get started on Casper Electronics web site and had real Glitch visuals for my shows. Before this I was using a GlitchNES cart from No Carrier. GlitchNES is a soft circuit bending tool. (It’s still one of my favorite visuals.) At this point I was happy with soldering and wanted more.

Were you part of the early era of console gaming? NES, Atari, Master System? When did you adopt that part of it. Do you consider yourself a gamer? Are you still a VHS / Laserdisk / Betamax purist? Did you formally study or is it something you’ve been into for a while?

Yes, I was a early Gamer. I was 5 when the NES came to the market. I got it for Christmas and loved it instantly. I’m an only child and having R.O.B the robot for help was awesome!! Although after a while I just use my feet for the second controller, it was faster. I like 2D side-scrollers and some RPG.
But when the Sega Genesis hit I really loved the speed of Sonic and NES took a back seat for a few years.
Video Games music and visuals have been the biggest part of my life so I can say I never adopted the 8-bit lifestyle it’s infused into my blood.

I don’t consider myself a gamer. I’m not up to date on the most recent games and consoles. I know a crap ton about retro gaming. I live in Las Vegas so we have great conventions. I Have attended everything from EVO to the Classic Gaming Expo.

I don’t game as much as I should because I’m too busy make Chiptune with LSDJ on a Game Boy; [takes me hours to create an original song.]

I do love the look of a VHS tape but I’m not a purist. I use DVDs and burn disks from Datamoshing to YouTube clips. I like using different video sources because they have different output looks after its Glitched.
I went to a Vocational High school for T.V. production. I’m glad I went because the equipment we used was very antiquated and it took up many rooms. By todays standards you can do all of it on your laptop. But my teacher was a stiff and didn’t like any of the experimenting we did. The rules of editing a commercial is so boring back then. We were doing what car commercials are doing today with fast cuts and Drum and Bass. But I was in the class of 98′ with equipment from 78′

What sort of projects are you working on in the future?

The projects I have now are with people in Las Vegas. I do visuals for a monthly live show in downtown call Friday Noise. I’m doing collaboration with 710 Visuals. He’s more of the hippy visuals and I’m more robotic. I’d like to collaborate with people all over the world if I could.

You produce glitch art, circuit bent equalizers, video mixers. Why don’t you talk a little bit about that…

I wanted to make video Glitch unit so I created the Glitch Zapper. It’s a dirty video mixer housed in a Nintendo Zapper. I started sell them on Etsy and sold 28 so far in a few months. The reason I started selling them is because i wanted people to have a legit Glitch tool for cheap. Under $50. The next Glitch tools are around $200-$700. So my product has a purpose.

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When I circuit bent my Videonics mx1 and posted it to social media no one has bent it yet and got some respect for my masters. So I circuit bent the Videonics titlemaker 2000 and got the Glitch Fx I was really looking for. And now I sell that one too I call it the Dream Crusher. $179
I found over 15 different Glitches on that unit.

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My mx1 unit is for sale but it’s hard to track down the proper board to bend. It’s called the Psytronic.

Glitch has been around a long time and still continues, like Chiptune, to remain wholly popular in some circles, but still kind of underground to mainstream counter culture. Give me some examples of the sort of chiptune and glitch art you really inspired and what kind of visual and musical work you’re trying to put out there?

…Glitch fucking art. I Don’t care for App Glitch art to start out. If you do it’s your life and time used. I have never left a negative comment on someone’s app art. But it is a pain in the ass to go through the Glitch Art Collective and find pixel porn after pixel porn. It’s just not what I like. I like O.G. rainbow feedback and real sync corruption. The Masters I follow and talk to are Portland’s own BPMC (glitchart.com) and Florida’s Tachyons+

A selection of works

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Links

Decaying Electronics on Etsy

Decaying Electronics on Facebook

Decaying Tigers on Facebook

De La Decay on Facebook

 

 

Biography – Anthony Hom

Category : Blogs, Mods · Comments · by Feb 25th, 2016

I wanted to add this as an post as we’re hoping to be working with Anthony in the future. He’s been modding since 2011 and has already made some excellent contributions to the chiptune and modding scene.

My name is Anthony Hom and I am U.S. chiptune modder from Southern California. I first got into the chiptune scene after watching the documentary “Reformat the Planet” in early 2011.  After being blown away by the work of 2 Player Productions, I dug through my old shipping boxes from Japan for his old soldering iron, ordered a DMG from eStarland.com, an 1/8” prosound kit from Nonfinite Electronics and never looked back.

 

I had to open and re-mod my first DMG six times in order to get my first prosound mod to work properly. The Gameboy shell didn’t even close properly. I showed all my friends at school and I didn’t even know how to use LSDj.

 

I remember back when you could still browse forums at 8BC and order Bleep Bloop carts with flashing LEDs in the cartridge case from Nonfinite. Backlight kits with 2 LEDs were still available for anyone to purchase. At that time the commercially available backlight kits weren’t the “slim-type” which all backlight kits are now. You had to snip off tiny component legs sticking out of the PCB from behind the Gameboy LCD to keep them from making pressure points on the screen when you closed everything up. Backlights were much thicker, didn’t run any built-in resistors that were optimized for different colors, and had metal legs sticking out of them from the LEDs. The backlights weren’t evenly lit, you had pressure points in the corners and it was really hard for perfectionist modders to deal with.

 

Back in 2011 Thetris and Capcomposer were still painting console cases, TVDeathSquad was still active on the forums, NeX was still modding Gameboys. NeX is my biggest inspiration as a modder. He’s a really humble guy and his work just blew my mind. I poured over his blog, photos and build posts just drooling at everything he was able to shove into a DMG, GBP, GBC and GBA SP. It was insane.

 

For a few months my only exposure to the chiptune scene was strictly via online forums. I posted on 8BC, a once active forum where chiptune musicians and enthusiasts worldwide would log into, and asked if there were any chiptune artists in San Diego. Jesse Escobar (Auburn Kitsune) informed me that Mike Charak (Bleeds) and Patrick Trinh (Space Town) were based in San Diego. Soon after finding them on social media, Mike contacted and invited me to a local artists show at the Che Café at University of California San Diego.

 

That night I met a group of people who would turn out to be some of my best friends and friends for life. Mike and Patrick played chiptune sets and I was floored listening to sounds that were coming from Gameboys and being spit out through PA speakers. If you ask them about that show, I’m pretty sure they’ll tell you that it wasn’t the highlight performance of their lives, but I was entranced and blown away. You always remember your first chiptune show and how exciting it was listening to something so different and so familiar.

 

I remember back in the day there were very few and obscure resources online when it came to modding Gameboys and accessories. A webpage that I frequented for reference was http://blog.xero.nu/gameboy_prosound_mod for prosounding a DMG.  Michael J. Moffit’s (Bibin), NeX’s, and Low-Gain’s blogs were also resources I used for information on how to mod different types of Gameboys. Those were some of the only resources we had, and a lot of the tutorials weren’t fleshed out or explained completely. There was a lot of time for innovation back then. I wish I took a few pictures of some of my prototype accessories. I had made an external prosound attachment with link capabilities housed inside a Gameboy Advance Wireless Adapter. I was also making an ultimate DMG inspired by NeX that housed a Mega Memory Card coupled with an N64 Transfer Pack connector inside a DMG.

 

I had started a youtube page a number of years ago with the purpose of showing how I do my mods and educating others. It has since not been updated since I have moved overseas. The link is www.youtube.com/willworkforric3.

 

            When I started modding, I wanted it to be a side gig where I could earn a little extra money. One December I made US$1400 in sales from buying/modding/selling Gameboys on eBay. After being in chiptune scene and meeting the people, I changed how I looked at modding. I started modding for cost of parts and I didn’t charge for labor. I felt that if I really wanted to contribute to the scene positively and if I really believed in what chiptune stood for, I needed to get these Gameboys into the hands of up and coming chiptune artists. I started taking commissions from 8BC and CM.o and I only charged for parts and shipping.

 

I went through 3 different revisions of what wires to use and 4 different revisions of what audio jacks to use. The chiptune scene is full of people who use Gameboys to make music. I saw sellers on eBay trying to sell backlit and 1/8” prosound DMGs for US$140+. It was ridiculous and I felt that these people were trying to make a buck off of decent people. I fought back with giving high quality mods and equipment back to the scene at cost. I have modded Gameboys for Bleeds, Space Town (Savior), Wizwars, Dasid, Computeher, Jiffypop23, chiptuners in South America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. I felt that during the time that I was very active modding for the scene, that I did contribute positively to it.

 

My Chiptune Modder Senpais include NeX, Bibin, Trash80, Xero, Low-Gain and Simon Schäfer. Thank you for paving the way and inspiring me with your innovations to chiptune and encouraging me for my own modding journey. Please notice me.

 

I currently work as an English teacher in Taiwan. There really isn’t much of a retro gaming scene here for a number of reasons, but I will get to that in a future article. Trying to find a good condition Gameboy at a local 2nd hand store here is as hard as trying to find a Gameboy Micro at a Goodwill back in the USA. Due to the lack of access to Gameboys and a non-existent chiptune scene here in Taiwan, I have since stopped modding actively. I do mod Gameboys from time to time for friends who are local to me, but it has all but come to a grinding halt. I am currently focusing on composing LSDj tracks, going under the name of Bananasan, and contributing to Mikee’s and Max’s project. I have a number of tech articles I am planning on writing for this site. Stay tuned.

 

You can find me on CM.o under the screen name katsumbhong, and I have made Gameboy related posts around the internet as soondubu, bananasan, willworkforice or willworkforic3.

You can find this Biography in our Wiki here.

Xmas Update

Category : Blogs, Mods · Comments · by Dec 8th, 2014

We’ve been a long time updating, so I’ll fill you in.

We’ve been sat long term on a large project. That is, Scott and I have gone back and forth sourcing components for something special, exciting and affordable.

Scott has had a few components he built that we wanted to spend time packaging and creating a tutorial. As we want to lower the barrier of entry of modifying Gameboys, we spent time trying to create tutorials for some of the products. Because I’m not very au fait with electronics. (I’m more of a, you-hum-it-I’ll-play-it kinda guy) I asked 2xAA (Sam Wray) to help out and what a job he did! Check it out here. Forgive the formatting, that’s still a task we need to get onto. For now, we’re pleases as punch with the quality of the images.

The quality of both the images and the build of the mod are perfect. Everything is in high-res and we’ve worked to make sure the mod is nice and simple to follow. Check out the HLK_CLK kit here. Note that this kit completely replaces the original oscillator on the board, meaning that when you use the half clock, it remains in tune still.

In addition we have our own Silicone buttons made by Kitsch that we’ll make available once we’ve used them for something exclusive.

We’re going to try to branch out the Wiki in 2015, with artists and more complete mods. We’re mostly working on our own thing at the moment, so if you want to help, get in touch with us on our Facebook page.

Happy Holidays.

Google Cardboard and the DODOcase

Category : All, Mods · Comments · by Aug 26th, 2014

If you haven’t heard about Google Cardboard it is because the INTERNET IS MADE OF HEATHENS. The Page for Google Cardboard states “David Coz and Damien Henry at the Google Cultural Institute in Paris built a cardboard smartphone housing to prototype VR experiences as part of a 20% project. The results elicited so many oohs and ahs that they inspired a larger group to work on an experimental SDK.” it’s basically VR on your Android phone.

So why haven’t we heard of these oohs, or indeed aahs? Perhaps the DIY approach is mostly something for the modding scene; the creatives. I like building things myself. But I also love buying low-cost products from independent companies. I didn’t have to measure it up, or pick up an NFC Tag – I just ordered my kit from DODOcase. Assembly took 10 minutes.

DODOcase 3

DODOcase 4

DODOcase 5

DODOcase 2

DODOcase 1

The list of components to make your own Cardboard VR headset includes the exact magnet pieces and lenses, so if you want to make your own, you’ll want to do it with some sagely advice: It is fucking awesome. No hyperb. The VR effect you get is pretty mindblowing. I tested this on a Samsung S4. I was concerned there would be too much light leakage, like some kind of Lomo effect with it held to my head. It is nothing like that. The simplest ideas are the best. Standing in the middle of my living room, I watched YouTube videos on a screen in the centre of a virtual cinema and scanned my head around a floating auditorium where I could pick videos to watch with the tug of a magnetic ring. My right-hand was outstretched like a victim of a triffid attack. Flipping the magnetic ring to make selections.

I walked around a sample Google Street, visiting a location in virtual reality. Imagine taking the walk to a job interview ahead of time? Or visiting places you’ve been to and have fond memories of. I’d like to see how this could be coupled with augmented reality.

I viewed artifacts in 3D, which ironically would have been a better place to show off a 3D design recently than my own cardboard maquette and certainly would have saved my integrity.

I’ve found myself packing it in my bag to show off to people. The price is low and the assembly is simple. If you have an Android phone, are handy with a scalpel and some double sided tape, you need to get on this now.

The Gameboy Pocket That’s Big On Content

Category : All, Blogs, Mods · Comments · by Jun 9th, 2014

The Raspberry Pi has quickly gained a cult following over the past few years, and this mod is not the first to squeeze the board into a Gameboy case. What really sets this mod apart is the fact that it is crammed into a Gameboy Pocket case and is an excellent compromise between aesthetics and function.

Original Pocket on left, modified shell with Raspberry Pi on the right

Original Pocket on left, modified shell with Raspberry Pi and other components on the right

The build, created by Travis Brown, features original Gameboy Pocket buttons driven by a Teensy 2.0 board to output button presses as if it were a QWERTY keyboard which interfaces with the Rasp Pi. The 2.5″ backlit color screen is suitable for emulating many consoles (NES, Gameboy Color, Master System, and Game Gear) and even playing games such as DOOM. Other aesthetics carried over include using the original headphone jack and AC adapter, as well as the volume potentiometer and power switch. Borrowing from its younger brother the Gameboy Advance (SP), the power indicator LED is two-colored to indicate charge level and charging status. The mod uses very little original code, just what was written for the Teensy to work with Gameboy buttons. Otherwise, everything made use of existing code created by the Rasp Pi community. The rechargeable battery provides about 3 hours of uptime per charge, but it can also be played while charging, extending its playability considerably. A brilliant application of thoughtful design and resourceful repurposement of parts that easily could have been discarded, this mod can be bragged on for authenticity as well as innovation. Check out the full build log here, and to see a the beginnings of a Raspberry Pi – Gameboy build in progress by OhmNohmNohm’s very own Michael Television, check out this post.

Overall, this thing looks really really good. I have a passion for hobby programming and retro games, and the pair of broken Gameboy Pockets in my closet make attempting such a project myself look very feasible. In the build log linked above, the parts list helps prove just how possible it is to do this mod on a tight budget. Perhaps one could be for gaming, the other a portable pirate box or music station. Let me know what you think! Please like, comment, or share!

Expect to be hearing more from me in the near future.
Max

Behold the Tannin!

Category : All, Blogs, Mods, Music · Comments · by May 18th, 2014

“A tannin is an astringent, bitter plant polyphenolic compound that binds to and precipitates proteins and various other organic compounds including amino acids and alkaloids.” (Wiki)

Tannin

Behold the Tannin! An awesome Midi controller that is made from a grip of potentiometers, buttons, LED’s and an arduino! The project was released on Hackaday.io and the project can be found HERE. The Tannin midi controller demo can be viewed HERE.

So WTF is a Produino?

Category : All, Mods, Music · Comments · by May 13th, 2014

We’ve been chatting about this for a while and it occurs to me that we haven’t even started at the beginning. The Produino is Alley Beach’s own version of an Arduinoboy on a tiny, tiny board. He’s been working on this non-stop this year and it is right at the final stages of testing: ie, does it do everything it is expected to do? What does this mean to people like you? Incredibly. Affordable. Midi for Gameboys. The idea is to keep the solder points to a minimum, board as small as possible and full components as part of a kit. What I like most about Scott’s dedication to electronics, is his attention to form, components and size.

NeX has made the Midiboy a most wanted must have object: a fully complete Gameboy with MIDI embedded right into it. We want to make this an affordable product. We’re hoping to sell a kit for around 50 dollars with all the parts for you to make your own. For those who like to get less dirty, we’re hoping to produce a Midiboy 2.0 – A fully MIDI gameboy with no extra outboard components at the lowest price we can make them at.

In the meantime, watch this space…..

Minecraft on the Gameboy

Category : All, Mods · Comments · by Apr 28th, 2014

OK, so I’m lying. It really isn’t. We’re talking about housing a Pi in a Gameboy. While it’s already been done, I’m looking to create a controllable game of Minecraft with the Gameboy in the left hand, and a wireless mouse in the other. The Pi can be utilised with an emulator so that traditional DMG/GBC/NES games can be played also with the front panel, (as well as a little bit of LSDJ/nanoloop  fun)

So I’ve been hankering after a Raspberry Pi for a while and I just couldn’t justify buying one for the hell of it. My initial desire was the interest in some basic coding skills in linux because I work as a Cross-Platform analyst and the truimvirate of Mac and Windows and  Linux is desirable to me. Mainly because I’m such a fussy completionist.

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So when I saw that such a thing as Minecraft Pi exists, I immediately splashed cash on a Pi for next day delivery, convincing myself that I’ll have my own Pi-Pirate broadcast network in my neighbourhood and build an intelligent thermometer to control the water boiler in the flat.

But fuck all that, because making something simple that works is a lot more rewarding that an experiment that fails right? Probably not. But that’s my ballsy arrogant mantra for the project and if it gets the job done, then let’s do ‘er.

So it’s not Minecraft on a Gameboy. It’s Minecraft Pi, on a Raspberry Pi in a Gameboy shell, with a working set of buttons on the front. The D-pad will control Steve’s footwork and a wireless mouse will help him look.

What is Minecraft Pi then?

Let’s talk about what this thing isn’t going to do first. It isn’t the guts of the Gameboy anymore. We’re putting a computer into it and emulating the Gameboy part. Minecraft Pi is also not even the full Minecraft experience. It’s a very stripped down version of the full fat release. It doesn’t have sound. It isn’t online. It’s essentially free and offline. It works smoothly and it’s still the building-block part of Minecraft. It also has a Python API for real time hacking and coding, which is the exciting bit.

I’m trying to make a fun machine that sits alongside your other older Gameboys. Essentially, the iconography of the classic shell, mixed with the inner workings of the most modern micro computer available. Not only this, I’m going to show you the easiest way to do it and lay out your options as I go.

 

 

 

 

Alley Beach – CMOY 1.0 and 1.1 – micro amplifier, massive sound

Category : All, Mods, Music · Comments · by Apr 24th, 2014

I recently received a parcel through the post with a California post stamp on it. I was super-pumped, because Scott was sending me one of his CMOYs: a tiny, symetrical board, mini-jack in and out, potentiometer and LEDs that amplifies anything you plug into it to the max. It was mounted, fairly neatly in a Tazo tin. Sadly, the California customs decided that even though it was leaving the country, it needed its face smashed in, even if it didn’t  have one. It arrived broken with a few leads snapped. It must have been used as a football.

Brilliantly though, its a kit that you put together yourself, so I just fixed it under his instructions with a couple of solder spots and it was up and running.

Because I wanted to paint the Tazo tin, I got viciously annoyed with the amount of adhesive on the tin and set up a tiny replacement box instead while I wait to get some paint thiner. The replacement box originally came with a foam insert for the mouse. I ditched that. The beauty of this tin is that you can see inside the board and LED.

CMOY Tin 1

CMOY in tin – Front

CMOY Tin 2

CMOY in tin – Top

The sound that you get out of this thing is MASSIVE. Why would you need such a thing? It’s a fun piece of kit to have around. It’s small. It’s fun and simple to make and it can amplify a hell of a lot in such a tiny box. Perfect for amping up Gameboys, Toy pianos, Speak and Spells. There’s a revision coming shortly and we’ll make these available. With the kit placed at about ten dollars, it’s hella cheap and hella fun.