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Thread: Mega Drive Chip music keyboard

  1. #1
    Tiido's apprentice Road Rasher TulioAdriano's Avatar
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    Genesis Mega Drive Chip music keyboard

    Hi everyone, it's been a while.

    I have been busy lately! While working to get my new company going, I started working on a project that was always something I dreamed of: A music keyboard with the Mega Drive chip.

    After talking to the electronics guru Tiido (also known as TEE or TmEE) he started pointing me in the directions of how digital electronics worked. I had ZERO experience with building anything. My most intense experiences with electronics until then were replacing capacitors and resistors here and there, but no knowledge whatsoever. But Tiido is a wonderful mentor, and he taught me the ways of the digital electrons, and the project building is a success!

    I had the idea of recording videos of the progress and posting them as I went, but on my excitement to work on the product I turned out not spending the time to upload the videos which resulted on a massive 51GB of video accumulated.

    Yesterday I decided to upload them and I wanted to share with all of you. Game music has been something that always meant a lot to me, and really what fascinated me the most since I entered the 3rd generation with the Master System and then the Mega Drive.

    But well I think I already told that story many times so I won't bother you.

    Here's the link to the video and the playlist where they'll be popping up. If you find yourself wanting to follow it, do subscribe to my channel.



    Link to the playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...ZTkJbjDhuXYqzh

    Main features of the project are:

    - Full fledged FM Synthesizer, complete graphic patch editing with real time response to the edits.
    - 2 x YM2612 for a 12 channel polyphony, and not running out of channels for your 10 fingers.
    - MIDI in and MIDI out support.
    - External controllers through MIDI, should you need real piano keys or more octaves, including Key velocity, Pitch Bend and sustain pedal.
    - Supports MIDI playback, including multi-timbral MIDIs, individual patch change, pitch bend, channel volume, key velocity, etc...
    - Support VGM Playback through USB streaming when connected to a computer and a VGM player that is prepared to communicate with the synthesizer.
    - That same protocol can be implemented in any music tracker for a real hardware sound testing. It could also be implemented in emulators for real sound output.

    Future plans include:
    - Built in VGM Player
    - Importing instruments and building a sound bank from a VGM file.
    - Ability to mute FM channels during VGM playback and play along with your favorite song.
    - Built in Music Tracker (this one is for a very far distant future).

    Hardware revision plans include
    - Addition of more sound chips (PSG, other FM Chips, special chips).
    - Make this addition modular, through expansion boards.
    - A full plastic shell and piano keys.
    - Open to (realistic) suggestions of the community.

    I hope you enjoy building this dream with me.

    See you later!
    Last edited by TulioAdriano; 07-29-2016 at 03:06 PM.

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  2. #2
    Outrunner thesegadude's Avatar
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    Tulio!!!
    It's great to see you! I am ready to build this dream with you
    Sega Dude

    Visit my Instagram @RetroMegabit or RetroMegabit.com

  3. #3
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    Nice project and nice kitchen, hehe.

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    Road Rasher zredgemz's Avatar
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    Sweet, just checked out the first three videos. I like the detailed diagram you made before started putting everything together.

  5. #5
    Tiido's apprentice Road Rasher TulioAdriano's Avatar
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    Hi everyone! Thank you for the words of encouragement, there are new videos today! Here's the link in case you haven't subscribed.

    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...ZTkJbjDhuXYqzh

    More to come soon!

    All the best!

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  6. #6
    Tiido's apprentice Road Rasher TulioAdriano's Avatar
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    Hi everyone. Please don't mind the double posting. There are updates in the playlist, I left out some videos that show progress in the software side while I waited for the headers to arrive.

    I hope you enjoy.

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  7. #7
    Hedgehog-in-Training Hedgehog-in-TrainingRoad Rasher AggroSky's Avatar
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    This if great Tulio! I am really looking forward to it!

  8. #8
    Tiido's apprentice Road Rasher TulioAdriano's Avatar
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    Thanks a lot AggroSky!

    Everyone, there are new videos posted, check the playlist.

    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...ZTkJbjDhuXYqzh

    All the best!

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  9. #9
    Elemental Master WCPO Agent GameUser-16-32-128's Avatar
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    This all sounds like a great idea to me, but I'm wondering about the patch editing controls. Will this be easily changed using knobs and sliders/faders on the hardware itself, or all done on software through MIDI connection to a computer? Yamaha's old FM synths weren't very friendly when it came to editing the sounds. The friendliest FM synths I can recall are Korg's 707 and VolcaFM. Also, will you be considering mini keys or regular sized keys? Rubber pads for tapping in percussion notes? I'm interested to see how this project turns out in the end.

  10. #10
    Tiido's apprentice Road Rasher TulioAdriano's Avatar
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    Hi GameUser.

    The design approach I went with on the YMK itself was to have one button to select each editable parameter, and a rotary wheel that changes the value of the selected parameter. Take a look at this attachment.

    YMK_Mockup.jpg

    As you can see everything is accessible at the touch of a button.

    Other than direct edit of each parameter through the YMK, they can be edited via MIDI as well. You'll be able to map a specific parameter to a CC MIDI message so it can be controlled directly via a MIDI software or a MIDI Controller. There is a video that demonstrates that in action, but it isn't published yet. If you need to see it you can PM me for a direct link.

    Also a good time to remind everyone that there are new videos being published every day so come, watch, comment, share, follow!

    All the best!

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  11. #11
    Tiido's apprentice Road Rasher TulioAdriano's Avatar
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    There has been so many updates in this project! If you haven't been up to date, what the wrap up below, and also check the playlist link above for more videos!



    Also, I now have a playlist just for music being played on the YMK. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...YUknLBnO4i3yD3
    Listen to music from Chrono Trigger, Legend of Zelda, Streets of Rage, Shinobi III, Shining Force II and even Sonic for the Master System.

    Feedback and comments are always welcome!

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  12. #12
    Bite my shiny, metal ***! Hero of Algol retrospiel's Avatar
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    This project is a dream coming true. Scratch that, I wouldn't have dared to even dream about this. This is amazing.

    The one thing I do not understand is why you don't add a real PSG ? Is there a particular reason for this ?
    The Mega Drive was far inferior to the NES in terms of diffusion rate and sales in the Japanese market, though there were ardent Sega users. But in the US and Europe, we knew Sega could challenge Nintendo. We aimed at dominating those markets, hiring experienced staff for our overseas department in Japan, and revitalising Sega of America and the ailing Virgin group in Europe.

    Then we set about developing killer games.

    - Hayao Nakayama, Mega Drive Collected Works (p. 17)

  13. #13
    Tiido's apprentice Road Rasher TulioAdriano's Avatar
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    Since this was planned to be an instrument, and to keep costs of prototyping low, I felt that PSG was unnecessary at this time.

    The YM2612 with its FM Synthesis is perfectly capable of producing a square sounding wave, and this fact is demonstrated on the VGM Playback of Streets Of Rage title theme for example:



    Adding a PSG chip such as the SN76489 is part of my plan, of course, as I want this keyboard to have multiple chips from multiple systems, being the one and only true video game sound instrument, but that would be on the KickStarter phase. So far I'm trying to get as much people to learn about it and build some audience so that this project can be successful.

    All the best!

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  14. #14
    Hero of Algol
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    Tulio had uploaded new updates a few days ago:









    I meant to post a comment here about this project before but I ended up not doing it.

    It's a wonderful project IMO. And I say this as someone who is likely to never use it since I'm a complete zero in terms of musical knowledge; but even so I admire the initiative.
    Tulio is one of those guys that you can tell he really, really loves his project and really pushes hard to make them successful. He also seems to have a very positive outlook on life, in a very awesome way.

    I've been following the progress he made so far and it has had a lot of progress already IMO.

    The previous video when he talked about using it as some sort of sound board expansion for emulators got me wondering if it would be feasible to have something like that for real hardware.
    It's a very pie in the sky thought, but imagine if we could somehow connect it to a Mega Drive (maybe using a lock-on cart) and have the option to replace/improve/expand the sound capabilities of the system; even if for just a handful of games.
    If we could, for an example, make use of two YM2612 instead one so we could have one chip handling the music and other just for the sfx for those games which would usually cut music channels to play sound effects. And maybe re-rout the PCM commands for an specific chip which would provide us much better playback quality... Oh, well, I know it would require patching the games (and it can easily be not-feasible after a certain point) but, man, it could be awesome. Imagine having different profiles on the YMK for each game and being able to edit these profiles; replacing FM explosions for PCM ones; selecting the sound of the guitar we like better, etc.

    Anyway, awesome project with lots of possibilities and amazing things already implemented.
    Looking forward to the next updates.
    Last edited by Barone; 10-16-2016 at 08:21 PM.

  15. #15
    Framemeister Expert Hedgehog-in-TrainingOutrunner Tower of Power's Avatar
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    Sounds incredible, hope I can get in on the Kickstarter, this is just the sort of thing I've been looking for from a keyboard!

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