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Blending Arduino with Analogue Audio: Phillip Stevens' Goldilocks Analogue

Gareth Halfacree

Phillip Stevens' Goldilocks Analogue

We've spoken before about our love of projects that take the Arduino concept and tailor it for a particular task, and during our regular browse of popular crowd-funding sites we came across another great example: the Goldilocks Analogue.

The creation of Phillip Stevens, the Goldilocks Analogue appears at first glance to be another Arduino Uno clone: it's the same form-factor, and features the same full-size headers with that iconic 'Arduino gap.' A closer look, though, reveals some extra parts not normally featured on an Arduino Uno or compatible: there's a four-pole 3.4mm jack at the top-left of the board and a micro-SD card slot at the bottom-right, along with a useful- if compact - prototyping area. Peering even more closely at component srevals a stereo digital-to-analogue converter (DAC), op amps, and a headphone amplifier.

The aim of the project, Phillip explains, is to create an Arduino-compatible microcontroller board which offers easy access to the world of audio processing. Straight out of the box, the board can be connected to a microphone and speaker to record and play back up to a minute of telephone-quality audio, stored in on-board static RAM, or an optional micro-SD card can be installed to record hours of high-quality sound. Example projects built with prototype units include pairing two up as digital walkie-talkies, using one as an internet-connected baby monitor, or building a triple-oscillator digital synthesiser.

It's far from a pie-in-the-sky project, too: back in 2013 Philip produced the first Goldilocks board, which duplicated the Arduino Uno layout but replaced the ATmega328 microcontroller with the more powerful ATmega1284. The Goldilocks Analogue is an extension of that project, the outcome of 18 months of iteration, and it has already gathered considerable interest: with seven days left to run, Phillip has already broken his original goal of $8,000 AUD.

His isn't the only Arduino-compatible audio project currently crowd-funding, though: the Obscura, from Arcano Systems, has smashed its $2,000 goal with 23 days still left on the clock thanks to its promise of an easy way to replicate the iconic sound of classic systems like the Nintendo Entertainment System, Commodore 64, and Commodore Amiga from any MIDI device.

The Goldilocks Analogue has all the analogue input and output options covered, together with sufficient data storage options available, to delve into the world of musical direct digital synthesis, human auditory augmentation (super power hearing), sound activated systems, signal processing, and analogue process control.

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