This Arduino-Powered "Probability-Based Sequencer" Upcycles an Unreliable Kids' Toy

When a kids' musical mat toy stops reliably playing its samples back, there's only one thing to do: bend its circuits.

Gareth Halfacree
1 month ago β€’ Music / HW101 / Upcycling

Maker and musician Michael Scruggs has taken a children's musical toy and circuit-bent its control box, creating an Arduino-powered "probability-based sequencer" that is at once more music and more portable than the original.

"This toy was originally a piano mat, but the mat didn't trigger consistently and the piano didn't sound all that great," Scruggs explains of the upcycling project. "I removed the mat and rewired the drum sounds to the buttons on the case."

What was once an unreliable kids' toy is now a hi-hat synth, triggered based on a variable probability. (πŸ“Ή: Michael Scruggs)

The resulting device retains the three giant buttons of the original multi-instrument kids' toy β€” which used an unreliable pressure-activated mat system to offer four drum types, a small keyboard, pre-recorded vocal snippets, and mixing between two "decks" β€” but adds a new switch and three potentiometers, all connected to an Arduino Micro.

The result is a probability-based sequencer that uses the toy's pre-recorded hi-hat drum sound as its sample. "The knob on the far left controls the temp," Scruggs explains, "the middle knob controls the swing, and the last knob controls the probability the hat will trigger."

More details are available in Scruggs' Reddit post; source code for the project had not been published at the time of writing.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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