Wee Noise Maker PGB1 Opens an Audio Synth Gateway to Musicians and Hackers Alike

Makes beats on the go with this customizable open source synthesizer, sequencer, and groove box.

James Lewis
2 months ago β€’ Music

Meet the PGB-1, the open sourced synth developed by Fabien Chouteau from Wee Noise Makers. Chouteau recognized the limitations of existing entry-level synthesizers and created a device that opens a gateway to the world of music production and audio synths. The Wee Noise Makers PGB-1 is a compact, hackable, all-in-one synthesizer that stands out for its power, size, and customizability. It is the perfect tool for electronic musicians and hardware hackers to experiment with and explore.

Do not let the PGB1-'s small size fool you. This pocket-sized (100 by 66 by 15 millimeter) music maker packs a punch. PGB1's open source approach enables electronic musicians across all levels to customize its capabilities, allowing them to explore crafting musical pieces.

The PGB-1 synth features include drums, bass, lead, samples, reverb, bitcrusher, overdrive, and more. Its advanced sequencer offers a wide range of options, such as conditional steps, repeats/ratcheting, pattern chaining, chord sequencing, and live sequencing effects, giving you the freedom to create truly unique compositions.

The PGB-1 consists of three PCBs. A motherboard contains the physical interface elements, such as the 30 keyboard buttons, 24 RGB LEDs, and a 128 by 64 pixel OLED screen.

Another PCB is a Raspberry Pi RP2040-based single-board audio processor called the Noise Nugget. The RP2040 microcontroller is a dual-core Arm Cortex-M0+ microcontroller with about 260 kilobytes of RAM. Noise Nugget adds an external 16 megabit flash chip and a Cirrus Logic WM8960 (or equivalent β€” since Circuit Logic discontinued the original) audio chip.

The third PCB is the front panel. This board has no physical components. It does feature a capacitive touch slider. You can use the KiCad design file Wee Noise Makers provides to create a custom faceplate with whatever artwork you wish!

You can play your musical creations using the built-in headphone driver or a 1-watt stereo (class-D) amplifier. PGB-1 has multiple input and output parts available.

  • USB Type-C (power and data)
  • 3.5 mm headphone/headset
  • 3.5 mm audio Line-in
  • 3.5 mm MIDI Input (TRS type-A)
  • 3.5 mm MIDI Output (TRS type-A)
  • Internal microphone
PGB-1 Video Demo

Wee Noise Makers targets musicians, software developers, and hardware hobbyists by making the PGB-1 open source and easily hackable. For example, most of the components are available off-the-shelf. The notable exceptions are the case and PCBs, which are easily obtained with multiple automated means. On the software side, PGB-1 supports programming with CircuitPython, C++, and Ada.

The PGB-1 open source synthesizer is accessible to musicians, software developers, and hardware hobbyists by pre-order through Crowd Supply. The campaign has already reached its funding goal, and prices start at $249 with worldwide shipping (and battery) included! Wee Noise Makers plans to ship PGB-1s by January 31st, 2025, for backers placing orders now.

James Lewis
Electronics enthusiast, Bald Engineer, and freelance content creator. AddOhms on YouTube. KN6FGY.
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