Cheap, Fat and Open – an Open Source Synthesizer Project
One of the sessions I attended at Camp Pixelache, an event that I attended in Helsinki, Finland a couple of weeks ago, was the Cheap Fat and Open project presented by Jacob Sikker Remin, from Copenhagen, who created a small open source synthesizer project called Cheap, Fat, and Open.
Cheap – because it only costs 60 euro – or 75 dollars, FAT – because it has fat sound, and Open – for open source and modular. It is basically a stylophone that has different sounds, and is small and portable. You can easily change the sound, pitch, modulation, pitch bender, frequency, and other adjustments. It also has a small sequencer on it, infared communication, and most importantly – you can reprogram it. It is backed by Aruduino – and you can easily change and adapt it to make the sounds that you want.
The community for the project is growing – and people can adapt and share their experiments. The piece is a combination of the old and new combining the raw 8bit / chip tune approach, wireless connectivity, state of the art open source hardware, and expandability.
Who is this designed for? The website states that , “The project is designed for geeky musicians, the chip tune (8-bit lo fi musician) community, the makers, the circuit benders, interaction designers musical programmers, and anyone else who wishes to experiment with sequenced / networked / low-level musical exploration.”
The synthesizer is not meant to compete with high fidelity sound – it is meant to be lo-fi and easy to use. One funny story that Remin shared is that a group called 1version out of China developed a smaller prototype of the project and is currently making these available for sale. As Remin said at the workshop,” I am very excited that my open source project has made it possible for something to be produced and sold in China.”
On the CFO website, you can read about upcoming demos, workshos, and updates as to how people are using the synthesizer. Kits are going to be available for sale soon – so you can get all the pieces in one place, or you can get the directions and source them out yourself.