Free Canadian Shipping on orders over $150 with discount code "FREESHIP" at checkout

SparkFun Music Instrument Shield Build

October 11, 2018

SparkFun Music Instrument Shield Build

Adding a multitimbral MIDI SoundChip to Arduino

Part two of a multi-part blog post on building a MIDI synth instrument. 

The basic idea is to use 3 Arduino's to make a visual / sound instrument. 

Arduino 1) Send control data.

Arduino 2) Generate wav audio from MIDI input. 

Arduino 3) FFT EQ visualization. 


Solder on Stackable headers. 

Careful to try get the headers aligned. ProTip is to put your stacking headers to the table & set an old shield underneath with pins facing up (into the receptacle end of the headers) to line them up for easy soldering. So a shield underneath this one in the photo below. 

I just went for it & tried to hold it still, so stacking headers came out a tiny bit wonky, but the pins still lined up perfectly with Arduino, so yay!


The chip driving this board is the VS1053, essentially the brain / heart / guts of a MIDI Synthesizer. I will admit one of my main reasons for building this is playing DOOM and other DOS games which can send MIDI to the shield. Modern update for an old SoundBlaster16 or  Roland Sound Canvas

And we're done. 


Stayed tuned for the next episode.