The Blade

Gameboy-driven chiptune keytar

What is The Blade?

A chiptune keytar built by Greig Stewart, Sam Wray, and myself. It comprised of hacked Guitar Hero guitars, a Rock Band keytar, two Game Boys, an Arduino Mega, and a Raspberry Pi, and a Leap Motion.

We built the thing at BuzzJam, a 32-hour hackathon held at Red Bull Studios in London. It was presented and run by Young Guns Network, Sony Music, WMA, and We Make Awesome Sh.

The hackathon and project was super fun, and we managed to finish building it just in time for Them & Us to play it live! We ended up getting media coverage from the BBC and Vice.

What makes up The Blade?

  • 3D printed housing

    • We custom modeled and printed a housing for the instrument to ensure it would be ergonomic to wield, hold together with all the components, and also look badass.
  • Two Guitar Hero necks

    • The necks, hacked off a couple of old Guitar Hero controllers, were totally rewired to output the button presses to jumper cables.
  • Arduino Mega

    • All the wiring from the Guitar Hero necks fed into the Mega, which then registered the button presses and output appropriate MIDI signals over USB serial into the Raspberry PI.
  • Rock Band keytar

    • We stripped this down to the bare keyboard and had the MIDI also going into the PI.
  • Raspberry Pi

    • Taking in all the MIDI, and running PD Extended we got this to manage and re-map all the button presses we needed. This then output to a MIDI thru box.
  • Arduino Boy

    • This fed the MIDI signals from the thru box into the Game Boy.
  • Game Boy

    • These were heart. With MIDI fed in from a multitude of sources, the Game Boy, running mGB, was the synthesizing the signals into sound, output via a standard 3.5mm jack.
  • Leap Motion

    • The Leap Motion was used for further sound modulation.