From MakerVan Labs

Two synthiboards, one as an Auduino, one as the Drummachine

An Arduino board that can run a number of different synth firmwares (maybe with minor modifications). Bunch of potentiometers, bunch of buttons. And some space to experiment.

The source for hardware and available firmware is up on GitHub now: makervan/synthiboard.


The Synthiboard, from the front

We're using an Arduino Pro Mini as the core of our synth. Input devices are up to 6 buttons and up to 5 potentiometers. Output is done via PWM and a low-pass filter. Unfortunately, there's not enough oomph on that output to make it work with headphones, you need powered speakers.

The required minimal input configuration depends on the type of firmware you are using (see details below).

There's a perfboard section of the board that allows you to make your own addons to the synth. Feel free to share your hacks.


Part Partnumber Source Notes
PCB Synthiboard v0.1 Tindie
Arduino Pro Mini, 5V, 16Mhz DigiKey
Micro USB Connector Amphenol ICC (FCI) 10118194-0001LF DigiKey Used for power only
DC barrel jack e.g. CUI Devices PJ-002A DigiKey
3.5mm stereo jack CUI Devices SJ1-3525N, Switchcraft Inc. 35RAPC4BHN2 DigiKey min. 1 as output, there's space for two more
Buttons Tactile Switch SPST-NO DigiKey There are many different colors available, as well as different lengths of the button.
You'll need minimum one for the reset button, and 0-6 for the synth itself.
Potentiometer Bourns Inc. PTV09A-4225F-B103 DigiKey There's space for up to 5 pots on the board
Resistor R1 1k Throughhole DigiKey
Electrolyte capacitor C1 10µF radial, 2.0mm leg spacing DigiKey
Capacitor C2 10nF, 2.5/2.54mm leg spacing DigiKey
Pin headers 2.54mm single row DigiKey 3 pins are necessary for the second channel on the audio out (sync/audio)
Get some long rows, and then cut them to size as necessary
Pin sockets 2.54mm, single row, 12pin or 2pin DigiKey (12pin)
DigiKey (2pin)
For socketing the Arduino. Don't forget the two 2-pin headers on the inside of the Arduino board.
FTDI Programming adapter DigiKey To program the Arduino from your computer. If you already have one, you don't need another one.


There are currently two different firmwares running on the board. They are both in the GitHub repository.


The Auduino is a Lo-Fi granular synthesiser, initially developed by Peter Knight. It runs on the Synthiboard pretty much out of the box, but there's the chance to do some hacks, which we'll describe in the workshop (and on here sometime soon).

For Input, it requires all 5 potentiometers, and no buttons.


The Drummachine is a 4 sample 16 slot drum sequencer, based on code written by Sebastian Tomczak, which has been adapted to work with the Synthiboard.

It requires four buttons (+ reset) and one potentiometer to work.

There's a few hacks for this one as well, which we'll talk about in the workshop.



There are a few ways to generate sound from an Arduino: PWM, a simple R2R DAC, or a dedicated DAC IC.

Additional Firmware


  • Uses 6 buttons (✔), 4 pots (✔), 5 LEDs (✘, could be put on the prefboard section), PWM output (✔)
  • Project
  • GitHub Repo
  • Audio Out PWM uses a different timer and different output pin, so maybe for another HW revision
  • maybe we can also add sync out

Helios One

PCB redesign

  • Straight ATmega328 instead of ProMini board
    • A little more expensive but looks better
  • remove the USB port
    • more trouble than it is worth
  • Battery power (3* AA)
  • Add option for different PWM pin, to support more synth sketches


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