Zeppelin Design Labs are a small company residing in the USA that design and sell some awesome looking D.I.Y(or prebuilt) kits aimed at musicians/recording artists and general noise makers alike. Seriously, if you take a look at their website you are bound to fall for their cool retro designs of their products! They ship worldwide too so no one is left out.
ZDL felt that I needed something new to build so they kindly sent me a Macchiato Digital Synthesiser kit to make some noise with. As you can see it looks a bit similar to a certain 1970’s ish(I remember those days) hand held device which you played with a stylus.
No stylus needed here though you can just use your fingers or whatever to play the notes.
The Macchiato uses an Arduino and a few other components to make the sound and is based on the Mozzi library. It’s also open source software on there so if you are into hacking or rolling your own code then you can do so if you like.
So in short, it’s a digital synthesizer that’s packed with quite a few features and I’m looking forward to putting it through its paces.
It runs from a single 9 volt battery or power supply and also has a MIDI in so it’s definitely not short on features.
Anyway, I won’t go into a full step, by step instruction of the build as they have a very good and easy to understand guide available to download in PDF format from their website.
As you can see the PCB is not packed with holes everywhere and the layout is really nice.
The board has the SMD parts already added for you so you don’t have to worry about any really tricky soldering with this build.
The resistors all come packed in their values, but I used my handy multimeter just to make sure I soldered the correct ones in place.
The power LED and capacitors were ok too. This really is a well thought out design and layout so hats off to Zeppelin Design Labs for that!
Potentiometers are all the same values, easy to put in as are the MIDI input jack etc.
I didn’t solder the LM386(amp) or Optocoupler directly into the board as they instruct you in the build guide. I went for some sockets which I had laying around in my kit as it means that if the chips go bad for any reason they can be easily replaced.
It is ok to solder them directly into the PCB though, it’s just me being cautious. 😬
And onto the battery holder and speaker. Yep, it has a built in speaker as well as a headphone/audio out socket so it’s very portable.
And that’s it. Nothing else to see here…….
Actually, the kit comes with templates for making and cutting out your own case if you wish to protect the lovely board and components. You can also purchase a plastic case to build too if you want something a bit more robust.
I’m undecided on what to do, shall I make a case from a cereal box or plastic? Or maybe I’ll make a wooden case? Answers on a postcard please….
So to finish, this is a nice easy kit to build. It took me a couple of hours to build and I’m really a novice at this soldering stuff so I highly recommend the Macchiato!
I will hopefully have some audio/video of it in action soon once I recover from a solder burn on my little finger. Oops.
I’ll make sure to update this post with relevant links.
See ya 👋