The Atari Punk Console is one of the simplest synthesizer circuits possible, which is one of the reasons they’re so popular. The other reason is that they generate really cool square waves tones that sound like something from a retro video game console — hence the name. But most aren’t much to look at, which is why Emily Velasco’s Freeform RGB Atari Punk Console is so darn cool.
Velasco, who you may remember from her Freeform Mini CRT Sculpture, designed and built this sound-synthesizing work of art for the Hackaday Circuit Sculpture Contest. We’ve featured othercontestentries recently, but this is the first one that would fit nicely in Daft Punk’s music production arsenal. For this project, she took a standard Atari Punk Console circuit, which relies on potentiometers and 555 timers to generate tones, and turned it into a three-dimensional sculpture using thin brass rods in place of the usual wires or PCB traces.
That would be noteworthy on its own, but she also added a really nifty feature that you won’t find on an ordinary Atari Punk Console. At the top of the freeform circuit there is an RGB LED pointing down towards a pair of photocells. The LED cycles through various colors and patterns, and the photocells pick up those lighting changes. As they do, they modulate the tone of the sounds being generated. It adds an extra auditory dimension to the device, and the aesthetic also suits the video game tones well.