Posted on May 18th, 2014 No comments
For my birthday a few years ago, my girlfriend gave me one of the “new model” Stylophones. I proceeded to impress her with my technical prowess by failing to find the volume control (which was turned down to minimum) and pronouncing it dead on arrival. Once we found the volume control I demonstrated my musical prowess to the point where I was banned from using it further while she was in the house.
They are such a cute package that the urge to hack them is almost irresistible. The first problem though is how to get in – the two halves are joined with glued tabs and I am afraid that force is the only way. With luck you can keep the tabs intact enough to rejoin later.
Once inside the electronics consist of an amplifier joined to a main board with the inevitable custom IC hidden under black resin. Seemingly, there is not a vast amount of hacking potential then. Having pulled mine open it languished for a few months while I waited for inspiration for what to do next. When Jason Hotchkiss mentioned to me that he had a kit to turn the Stylophone in to a MIDI controller it grabbed my attention. More so when he warned me it was a difficult build and he had only sold a few because his warnings on how hard it was had dissuaded potential customers. Well, this sounded like a challenge to me.
The kit comes with three different PCBs to add to the Stylophone and a large quantity of fine wire. For me it was an interesting build, certainly no harder to make than any of my video bending projects, but not a simple job either. As always Jason provides instructions that really help bring things together.
A few hours got everything installed and working first time. I rejoined the case with tape to allow me easy access in future in case I want to change anything else.
In use it is a really fun item. Playing a grand piano synth from a Stylophone is a rather crazy experience. You can whizz up and down the keyboard like a real virtuoso. An unexpected bonus (hey I don’t read the documentation) is that it contains a tilt sensor so you can do pitch-bend a modulation by turning the Stylophone. It’s a great controller when connected up to the LushOne.