Rytm1 V1.0, the automatic rhythm accompaniment

Some fancy way to call a “preset beat box” made out of recycled parts, don’t you think? ;)

Returning to some audio stuff after all the console modding, I decided to put together this fun project the other day (did allow the paint to dry up overnight tho). Fun as in, go at it without much planning and improvise stuff on the fly without putting excess effort to build quality or whatever.

Thing is, for the past month or so I’ve been trying to repair (up to no avail) this 70s electric organ I got for free. No schematics or datasheets available, (it did come with the original purchase/warranty certificate tho) so the repair was mostly poking around and giving the electronics “air&light therapy”. I did manage to pinpoint a few failed SAJ110s (used to divide the various note frequencies from the master osc) and even had NOS replacement parts for these (kindly donated by the previous owner), but there was something else broken as well. Anyway, as my attempts seemed to be going nowhere I decided to scrap the organ for parts. The first “phoenix” to rise from the ashes of this now-retired lounge warrior? Rytm1 of course!

For the enclosure, I chose a damaged DVD player I got from my mum (thanks <3). The beat selection switches and tempo / volume controls needed to be mounted to the bezel. I also decided to install the power switch up front, this makes switching the unit on/off easier if it’s stacked with other sound modules (or whatnot). Unfortunately no good spots for the switch so I had to make one..

The bezel prior to yours truly fucking it up.

Close-up cutout needed for the power switch mounting plate.

The beat selection switches fit neatly to the DVD drive slot with the help of a small mounting plate whereas the tempo/volume knobs could be mounted to the drive open/close and IR sensor holes. Additionally Play / Stop button holes proved good for the power / tempo LEDs. In no time, the bezel was ready for painting:

A layer of paint and it’ll be all good..

After the paint had dried up, I cut two small pieces of plexi glass, sanded and glued them to the Play / Stop button holes. I figured this might be somewhat a worthy project for testing out whether this approach of fabricating custom LED light dispersion surfaces is any good. And guess what? It isn’t. Yay \:D/

For the electronics, I needed to make a adjustable PSU as the one in the organ was far too big to fit inside the DVD player case (no shit?!) and it was feeding the rhythm accompaniment board with a relatively weird voltage (around 18,5V). The audio out jack fit neatly to the SCART connector opening with a small mounting plate. As I didn’t test the whole unit earlier, prior to completing the assembly I gave the electronics some measurements while the unit was running.

Guts of Rytm1, pros use telekinesis to move the test leads.

All fine besides the volume control, which simply stopped working after the potentiometer was installed inside the case. Fuck that then, go at it all bossanova rhythmguns blazing. To finalize the absolutely awesome looks of this ghetto-style salsa / bossanova box, couple of knobs from a dismantled computer monitor and voilà..!

The completed unit. What a beauty!

As-is, this box sounds pretty harsh and thus needs quite a bit of eq’ing to make the audio even semi-usable. There must’ve been some additional signal coloration applied within the organ, as the rhythm section didn’t sound quite ear-bleeding as it does now. Oh well, fix that “in the mix” then.

Future hardware additions/improvements could be adding at least external syncing and trigger outputs. The latter would be awesome for triggering synths or sound modules. As a bonus, the beat selection switches wildly retrigger the beats, so in that sense Rytm1 is a instant IDM/Glitch box! The other parts scrapped from the organ are a totally different story altogether ;)

Sound clips might follow..

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