Arduino Micro based sequencer

By John, 10 January, 2023

A while back I made a "deconstructed sequencer" out of logic chips. Its funny to go back and read that post because the post says the sequencer is "awaiting repairs", and that is definitely still the case.

It's not that I haven't tried, I have, it's just that I get as far as taking off that first clock panel, looking at the big ball of tape holding everything together, and then I kind of retreat back and say hang on a minute. I even re-designed the circuit from scratch (I lost my original schematics, no idea where they are, and it's possible I never wrote them down anyway) and started constructing a new one in its place, but you know, this is one tiny sliver of one of my hobbies and I only got as far as "half of this is wired up on a protoboard", so certainly I don't have anything functional. 

At the moment, however, I would like a sequencer. And when I say "at the moment", I mean, I decided I wanted one a few days ago. It doesn't have to be great, "barely functional" would be fine.

So I figured I would code one into an Arduino Micro. 

I've got a user interface, on paper, I don't think it's going to be very good but all of the features are there. I mean, lets be totally honest, I am far better at building synthesizers and cigar box guitars and other weird instruments than actually using them musically. So I don't know how well it will work, in part because I don't even know what I'm doing.

The deconstructed sequencer has a very big chunky tactile user interface with 16 switches and 16 knobs. This one is not going to have the same kind of physicality. It's going to be a "set a note, advance to the next beat, set the next note", etc. I don't know if I am going to like it, but I suppose I should use it before I knock it. 

However, it occurs to me just now that I could decide to, after I get it mostly up and running, make a couple of quick modifications and then insert the Arduino Micro into the deconstructed sequencer, and kind of bodge them together. Then I could have a functioning sequencer, with the chunky UI for pitches, but the Micro being the brains, then I could extract and remove the original front end of the deconstructed sequencer entirely, and unwind that massive ball of tape, and maybe make some progress on it. 

Anyway, as far as the Arduino Micro Sequencer goes, I've gotten as far as "it has.a free running loop at a fixed tempo, and it advances through all 16 steps and outputs a different control voltage for each step". Next step (ha ha thank you brain for bringing that pun to my attention) is going to be making the LED visualizer for each step. Or maybe I'll do tempo changes next. Also I need to go through my junk pile and find a prototype VCO of some sort (I have a few generations worth of 8-bit VCDO circuits laying around somewhere, I'm sure I can pluck one up and dust it off and get it working). A few months ago I very nearly finished a new cigar box amplifier, so that's ready to go for the most part. 

Then I'll have a working end-to-end synth again! It won't be much but hopefully I can make a lot of beeps with it.