DIY video synthesizer looks and sounds like your busted Atari
Make Magazine is now selling their Cellular Automata video synthesizer kit, allowing people to create musical tones from shifting video patterns.
Make magazine--purveyor of awesome and amusing DIY projects and kits--has added a new product to its online store -- the Cellular Automata video synthesizer kit. It may look like a hippie guitar pedal, but actually it creates endearingly retro (but mostly annoying) audio and video akin to an Atari 2600 meltdown. The kit offers RCA audio and video outputs, costs $50, and is mostly preassembled. You will have to find your own enclosure (the rainbow-colored wooden box is only a suggestion) and solder on the knobs and a reset button.
The video synthesizer works off a mathematical idea called cellular automata, which basically generates evolving patterns of data based on predetermined rules. I don't really understand it myself. All I know is that it has three controls--one that controls how many colored squares fit onto the screen; one that controls how the squares behave; and a third the controls how fast they go. Here's a video (.mov) showing what you can expect.
I imagine the novelty of this thing gets pretty old pretty quick, but I love the idea of building this kit into some old lunch box.
"What's that Scooby Doo lunch box with the knobs sticking out of it?"
"Oh, it's a cellular automata video synthesizer."
"What does it do?"
"It gives people horrible headaches."
Link to manufacturer's site (Critter and Guitari).