Atari Punk Stepped Tone Generator

Posted on Feb 7, 2014

The Stepped Tone Generator is a simple dual oscillator circuit with a single pulse wave output. The first oscillator drives the pitch of the output oscillator which divides the pitch by increasingly smaller amounts as the pitch increases depending on its own pulse width (steps) setting. The name `Atari punk console` came about as some builders say

Atari Punk Stepped Tone Generator
Click here to download the full size of the above Circuit.

the sound resemble`s that of early Atari games consoles. The original circuit shown right - is pretty raw if R1 gets to low in resistance the circuit stops and its output only suitable for a 8ohm speaker but these little points can easily be sorted. The circuit is made up of two simple circuits ~ A Astable multi vibrator (oscillator) triggering a Mono-stable (one shot pulse generator) which acts as a frequency divider and pulse width modulator. One of the drawbacks of the original circuit is is sucks a bit of current (10 - 20mA) which is not to much on its own but once you start to add LED`s, modulators and other circuit bits your batteries don`t last very long! The purpose of this page is to look at how the circuit works why it uses so much current and how I came to adapted the circuit for a low power consumption. (0. 5 - 1. 5mA instead of 20mA !) A schematic of this circuit is at ther bottom of the page. It is really not necessary to under stand how the 555 / 556 timer works in order to make the stepped tone generator but its worth having to understanding if you want to modify the circuit. Basically a 556 timer is a dual timer, it has to equiverlant 555 timers in one chip package IE you can make the circuit with 2 555 timers or one dual 556 timer SEE HERE for an example. HERE is a good expanation of how the timer`s work. Below is an expanatiove of how the Stepped tone generator works scroll down for my 2 revised APC...

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