Circuit Bending 4

I recently finished work on circuit bending another toy: a "Mix Me DJ," something I'd not actually heard of until recently but apparently they were marketed to kids by a Chinese toy company in the early 00s. I'm not going to go into much detail here on how I bent this one; I think it's much better explained on other websites if you Google it. But I will do a quick overview on the mods I made:

Mix Me DJ mods

Most of the mods I made involved altering the clock speed of the main circuit board - which is controlled by a single resistor - or altering the signal coming out of it. However (I'm told) it's also possible to unlock hidden Easter Egg sounds which the manufacturer for some reason chose to include.

In and out ports
My finger
The Mix Me DJ comes with a 3.5mm line-in jack but no output to external devices, so I put some extra 1/4" jacks on the back of it so I can connect it to the rest of my gear.

Be careful with tools kids; I sliced my finger with a knife and had to go to A&E.

(Hooray! My first circuit bending scar!)

The upshot of all this is that I've basically made a sort of harsh noise groovebox. While it's not possible to customise the pre-programmed drum patterns, just about everything else this gadget does can be distorted beyond all recognition and it really lends itself to putting on improvised noise shows. Here's a video of me putting it through its paces for the first time (note I also used my circuit bent Speak & Spell just so I had something extra to put through the Line In port).

Update - March 2016

Disaster has struck! I tried to install an extra circuit board inside the Mix Me DJ to give it some (limited) sampling abilities. But I somehow managed to fry the circuit board in the process and it's completely stopped working.

I've now purchased another Mix Me DJ and had to painstakingly re-create all my old circuit bends on the new board. Interestingly, when I opened up the case I found the replacement has a design improvement over the presumably earlier model I owned; it has two processors, one of which controls the rhythm and sample playback, the other controlling the sounds from the built-in keyboard. This makes for somewhat smoother sound quality and it also opened up interesting circuit bending possibilites, as the two processors can be pitch-controlled independently!

The Mark II

The Mark II in all its glory - March 2016

The Mark II has the following improvements over its predecessor (aside from not being broken):

  • Independent coarse/fine pitch controls for different sound functions
  • An in-built mini-mixer allowing it to be used as a hub for other instrument sounds
  • In-built sampler, can record and play a loop of up to 10 seconds
  • Generally wired and constructed a lot better as I learned from my earlier blunders