VMW Raspberry Pi AY-3-8910 Chiptune FAQ
- This is cool! Can I buy one?
Sadly, no. I did this as a personal project and I really don't
have any desire to try to sell them.
Especially the i2c cables, I have nightmares of trying to
get that cable to crimp correctly, I can't imagine making
more or them.
I do provide the plans, directions, and gerber files if you want
to try to make one yourself. The PCBs are shared on
OSH Park too.
You might be better off starting from scratch though, as I was
designing for fun, not practicality. You could make something
a lot smaller and cheaper than what I came up with.
- How much did it cost?
Too much. Well not really. Including the cost of the Pi,
around $300 or so on average.
That's the average cost if you were making 9 of them.
If you just want to make one it's going to be a bit pricier,
especially as I used some gratuitously large circuit boards
(which add up at PCB fabs where you get 3 copies of each).
- Why bother with actual hardware? Can't the Pi just emulate
an AY-3-8910 in real time?
Yes, although the Pi is a bit limited in its sound output
I started this project because I wanted to learn how to
make AY-3-8910 music for the old Apple II Mockingboard card
which also has dual AY-3-8910s. Having a Pi setup makes
development/testing a bit easier. And anyway it's always
more fun to do things with actual old hardware rather than
- What's your favorite chiptune?
I've found a lot of good ones, but my favorite is still the
one that I thought was cool enough to sit down and design
this thing, which is ``INTRO2.YM'' by
- Do you write your own chiptunes?
Sadly I'm not musical enough to write anything good.
I have written a custom tracker and I've been transcribing
songs from sheet music which can be interesting.
- Why is your PCB layout so ugly?
I don't have enough practice, though hopefully I'm improving.
I was trying out non-90° angles this time around, though
not sure it bought me anything.
Also did a ground fill which did seem to work. The breadboard
version had a lot of background hum, especially when the i2c
displays were busy.
- Why are your diagrams in the manual so awful?
Because I make them with xfig.
Even worse, I make them with xfig on a laptop, and to middle
click to end lines I have to three-finger click the touchpad
and that's nearly impossible.
- Who's that angry looking fellow on the circuit board?
Talbot Fantasy Vince.
- Why don't you credit the authors of all the chiptunes you play?
I'd like to. However a lot of them I found in a big zip file
of ym5 files online and it's hard trying to map these back
to the original author (the conversion utilities people use
often seem to wipe the metadata).
- Do you hand code your web-pages with a text editor?
Yes. I use nano. I've been making web pages this way since
1996 and see no reason to change now.
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