LSDJ Showdown 2013 – Prizes – updated

May 29, 2013 in News

Here they are people.

Gameboy mods and other bits

For first place this year, we’re very pleased to bring you a MidiBoy by NeX. It’s an all-yellow fully Midi gameboy with a switchable pitch bend, biverted backlight and flush prosound. If you haven’t seen one of these, then they are about as pimped as a Gameboy can get.

NeX MidiBoy - Showdown

Second prize is a prosound, backlit DMG, ’707′ hand sprayed by myself, Michael Television.

Michael Television '707' DMG

Third place is a clear green Kitsch-Bent case and gold plates and battery springs. Kitsch-Bent silicon start/select buttons, clear DMG buttons, prosound mod and an orange V2 backlight.

Kitsch-Bent kit, Michael Television mod

Fourth place is a clear blue Kitsch-Bent case and silver plates and battery springs. Kitsch-Bent silicon start/select buttons, Orange DMG d-pad, power switch and link port cover, orange DMG buttons, prosound mod and an orange V2 backlight.

Kitsch-Bent kit, Michael Television mod

Fifth place is a 64MB rewritable EMS cartridge. The top ten all receive a Luftek Micro USB to DMG adapter each. There are seven bundles of stickers, backplates, buttons, and bits & bobs too!

Additionally, I have some other components that’ll get thrown in for good measure. I have a few lovely things kicking around.

Thanks to our sponsors:

Kitsch-Bent logo

Luftek - store

NeX - store

Don’t forget to have a pop into these guys shops! Keep the music coming, chipsters.


' Avatar of Freque

by Freque

Power Player #19: Kitsch

April 16, 2012 in Power Player

Tell me about Kitschbent. How did you get started?

Let’s see, a while back I was circuit bending things and selling them online a little bit (a very little bit), and the name was more-or-less from an observation I had while doing this and being swept up by fooling around with electronics in my first constructive way. So, not to be nit-picky, but circuit bending (imo) shouldn’t be about replication. Everyone’s projects started looking the same (patch-bays, mods-by-the-book (literally), etc). The name ‘kitsch-bent’ was me reflecting on this I suppose, and its followed me from that… From circuit bending came an interest in modular synthesis and building my own modules, which got me interested in new sources of basic tones because i didn’t have the equipment to build my own VCO (a scope) and wanted a cheap way to get simple tones in a small form factor. Which eventually led to chipmusic as a means to get such pure tones and control them. very different from modular stuff, but still… all-in-all i clicked on a link somewhere and read about video game music (SMSpower i think), and got interested in the means/method of it and contemporary applications of this.

circuit bending –> SynthDIY –> chipmusic (and its hardware)

in a nutshell. kitsch-bent is me, matt. i shouldn’t leave that out i suppose. with occasional help from my brother and girlfriend.

How about your involvement with

Before ChipCo (ChipCoalition, now in limbo/defunct) started, right when cm.o was forming (all of this due to issues @ 8bc), I was working with people on ’8bit-forums’ as an alternative (which doesn’t exist now, I think it did for a week or so). It ended up with the staff of 8bit-forums and cm.o joining up in the cm.o effort (basically us ditching 8bit-forums), and ChipCo became a forum targeted at modding specifically. So this is how I got involved, out of a mutual interest in having an active forum with its management outside the purview of one person. There was general dissatisfaction with 8bc at the time and a need for an alternative. cm.o was born from that immediate need. I’m a mod there, but that doesn’t mean a whole lot because the staff is extremely hands-off, except for troll management. People on the staff who are knowledgable about the coding/design deserve the credit for what it’s capable of, and all the users for what it is. We wanted to create more of a level playing field for all the users of cm.o, which is why we aren’t identified as being mods/admins, except if you visit the page where it lists us. And that’s only really for when people need to seek us out for some reason. So, i suppose… my involvement is extremely minimal, and enjoyably so because its a good model towards having a functional community I think. Its not overbearing and power is decentralized.

Do you prefer the hardware or software side of chipmusic?

Hardware. My personal interest with chipmusic didn’t/doesn’t come from a software-driven perspective at all. I wasn’t enamored with tracking or trying to emulate the sound of a particular artist I’d heard. I geek out on hardware things, like the ICs used in synths or hardware revisions among consoles. The tonal qualities of VG consoles were fascinating to me, but from the perspective of “i wonder whats going on in there and how to tap into that magic” rather than “i wonder how to compose that style of music.’ The search started there, and an interest in the software followed quickly by default (as a means by which sound may be produced/controlled in VG consoles). I see this all in ‘hardware-hacking’ terms i suppose, even if this isn’t always physical hacking but simply using the tech in an unintended way (i’m just guessing that VG console manufacturers didn’t ‘mean’ for this to happen). Maybe not even unintended, perhaps just improved upon. With that being said, a lifelong interest/involvement with music pushes me towards the audible aspects of VG tech and how to support the production of music with VG consoles. They’re much more interesting as musical tools than gaming consoles to me. My fundamental appreciation of chipmusic is from the abilities people have to repurpose the hardware, which is complemented by their compositional/tracking skills or some other means of teasing sound out of the machine. Talent with typically very limited technology is something you can hear in this type of music and mind-boggling a lot of times. A nerd moth to nerd fire.

What kind of projects are you currently working on?

Wow, big question… a lot. Some of it people know about, others are just ideas stuck in my head, some things are hopefully going to be done soon. I guess the big one (right now) is an updated replacement DMG case. The case is the biggest project I’ve done both in terms of logistics and cost (and patience), it’s going to be pretty awesome i think. I made some structural changes to aid modders, like getting rid of some of the odd shaping and design characteristics. They’re designed with this scene in mind, considering all the wacky stuff we’ve done with the console thus far, it’ll be nice to cram some more inside… I know I’ve found myself in need of only 1mm here or there to make something fit. I hope i’ve solved *some* of that issue with the slight redesign.

Some other things which aren’t as ready are electronics projects, they span from *duino-based tools for the gameboy to an attempt to redo the front pcb (the LCD one) and the power supply board (having issues with this though because a particular part). I tend to have ideas that I jump into and research/start, then get overwhelmed by all the other projects I haven’t managed to wrap up yet. My head is all over the place, it’s a big problem (!!!). Oh, also a few different flashcart designs, one which i’ll only say would be the cat’s meow, except i have a serious time deficit. It exists as a proto-pcb, and that’s it. Ran into some coding issues and have been bummed out about it since… it just looks at me now, until i get other things out of the way.

um. oh…! gameboy->HDMI. That’s something i’m working on, and thinking its going to work out well. (i should expand on this, it probably needs a OMFG explanation… but until its working it’s just something to mention *is* being worked on). there are a couple hiccups to deal with in the idea that may cause some issues, but i’m hopeful. well, i’m sort of on a high with the thought of this actually working… so maybe more cautious optimism is called for…

EPROM carts for a bunch of consoles. gameboy, gba (probably, not really sure if its needed tbh), lynx, etc… most of these are older designs i just never produced but finished.

print-your-own screen covers for the DMG (other consoles to follow).

something for the n64. :)

possibly some new design of buttons for the dmg, it’s an idea stuck in my head that isn’t leaving me alone.

oh, a new pcb case for GB games. That’s one that will be pushed up a bit. so, expect that sooner than later.

EL backlights JUST got finished and should be in the shop very soon.

prosound/amplifier board for dmg.

3-way easy_CLK.

LED boards for illuminating the new start/select silicon buttons. (going to do these with Thursday Customs)

A project which will be finished up in the next couple months (it’s tested 100%, i’m hand-assembling them atm which by the way completely sucks), is called the ‘quint.’ It’s a platform device to control the clock speed at which the gameboy runs. It’s *duino-compatible, so can be updated and worked on from within the Arduino IDE. It has USB support. Um… without spilling the beans on what exactly it does, it’s a means to have precision control over the clock speed of your gameboy, can control two consoles at the same time, and because of USB support is easily customizable by the user. A shout-out to little-scale, nick E., and my brother for their help on the coding side! I’m really excited about this, it’s been in the works for about 2 years I’d say (not because it’s that complex, only because life gets so busy at times). It does everything that I think anyone could imagine doing re: the clock speed in a gameboy. Think of it as a precision oscillator, designed for VG consoles, with a brain. That’s the quint (it has 5 main buttons, hence the name).

man. i don’t even know. i’d list them all but it’s a bit. I really do just jump into wayyyy too much. To skip back up to your previous question real quick, I guess the real answer to what Kitsch-Bent is, is it’s a means to my end of learning and broadening myself as a productive human. It’s self-satisfying. Everything i listed just now sounds like tons of work, but i’m passionate about it so it’s a real joy.

How did you get into electronics?

Sometime when I was a kid I started taking things apart and seeing what was inside. Or, snapping off electrical components or parts I liked and hanging on to them (bothering the adults whose electronics i was ruining I’m sure). I remember mashing up different toys and shorting them out in strange ways, but it was really circuit bending that got me to pick up a soldering iron and be proactive about things (also, the convenient timing of a local RadioShack going out-of-business and having a ridiculous sale on supplies, which is when I got my first iron and basic parts). It’s a very helpful hobby for electronics confidence building, if you can get over frying a few toys. It’s just been a matter of picking up skills slowly along the way, and trying to build off these.

Although, looking back on it starting out with proper EE theory and a more traditional approach would have saved a lot of time now in having to go back and relearn things or unlearn bad form and practice.

What advice do you have for aspiring wizkids?

The main thing to know in starting out with electronics DIY is that you’ll fail. At some point, or maybe for a while, it’ll happen. Getting a PCB made to test that has some little error or simple mistake is a terrible feeling, but it’s how you learn. Getting it right feels wonderful though. It’s very much worth it.

In the past, I was a big proponent of circuit bending being a great means to learn electronics. But, looking back at this, a more traditional approach is probably best *if* a person wants to advance beyond rudimentary things. This is really due to my knowledge of electronics having expanded since the beginning, and is sort of a “oh, if i knew then what i know now” response. I wouldn’t suggest it as a means to learn now, I’d point people towards the more general electronics DIY scene if they want to avoid textbook instruction. Actually, SynthDIY is a great way to learn, it gets demanding at times… much more so than circuit bending.

(I should probably just say, I don’t think of myself as being particularly knowledgable about electronics. I’m very weak in theory and am limited by this, which is a fault of how I learned. I know what I know decently well, but just want to attach a disclaimer to my advice I suppose). It even makes discussing electronics difficult sometimes because I didn’t learn the correct vocabulary because it didn’t matter at all.

Better advice is to ask for help and ask questions. Be a pest sometimes if you need. Also, search engines ;) It’s obvious, but it’s unbelievable how many people neglect to do simple searches. There are some really great online guides that can help, such as the ones Sparkfun does. Also, go ahead and jump into a CAD software. Eagle CAD is a good entry-level tool, is free up to a point most people won’t move past, and is cross-platform. Because so many people use it it’s very easy to share files as well, and there are some parts libraries available online which include some VG console parts (gameboy.lbr is on the cadsoft site even, i believe).

Also, if you are a student, take advantage of the student discounts you get for software. Altium Designer, Solidworks, Rhino… that type of stuff you can get a substantial discount on just for being a student and having a school ID (in the USA, i can’t speak for other locations of course). I can’t emphasize what a big deal that is. I’m kicking myself a lot right now for not taking advantage of this more before I got out. Some licenses are for a lifetime… commercial even! And you don’t need to be an engineering student most the time. That’s the biggest tip I’ve got maybe. Student discounts.

How do you feel about the current state of the chipmusic scene?

Well. I’ve written an answer for this three times and erased it. Suffice it to say, and to start off with the negative, the worry I have about the community is the possibility of there someday needing to be “corporate chipmusic sucks” bumper stickers. Not to deny people their chance at the spotlight if that’s what they’re after (*that* isn’t the issue), but the ramifications for corporate involvement/guidance are that the scene’s comfortable and naturally evolving position is ruined. (this may just be too much a presumptive worry though, i sort of expect the world to be as fond of the music as i am i guess, if they could only just hear some of it)

Which, sort of addresses the huge positive of what we’re involved with, that organic building of a network of similarly minded people and the robustness in which most of us undertake this ‘thing’ we do. Whatever context that may be, from the making of the music, the hardware, the artwork, the online framework for all of this, the rich and wonderful history that is the foundation of what we all do, etc… We’re all pretty hardcore about it, kind of collectively geeking out…

come to think of it, ‘corporate chipmusic sucks’ stickers would be sort of funny to do. maybe add that to the list of stuff from up above i’m working on ;)

Who’s your favorite television/movie robot of all time? Why?”

Is a robot a ‘who,’ or rather a ‘what?’

Erm. Oh, i know. The replicators. As a whole ‘species,’ individually they just aren’t the same.

If androids count… then Saul Tigh.