The Idea

A project log for SNES DRONE

A cartridge for the SNES (Super Famicom) that uses the built-in wavetable chip to finally turn the console into a synthesizer!

FoxchildFoxchild 12/05/2018 at 15:360 Comments


Basically, the project has three main goals:

The SPC-700 and the DSP by Sony in the Super NES


The idea is to build a cartridge with some potentiometers and buttons that control the synthesizer chip in the SNES. To do so, I developed a co-processor cartridge (similar to a Star Fox cartridge) that reads the potentiometers and buttons, generates data and instructions and sends it to the main processor of the SNES (which is a 65816).

The wavetable synth will be fed with some wave samples at boot time and start oscillating. The potentiometers are used to control the frequency and volume of these sounds. This is very similar to a modern drone synthesizer!

JMT Synths NOSC-12 - a typical drone synthesizer


I got the idea for this project when I saw a video about how music on the SNES was made back then. I think it's really fascinating and since I am a big fan of synthesizer instruments in general, I wanted to be able to use this wavetable chip on the SNES without the need to write code for a cartridge or whatever. I want to use this chip exactly like an instrument... live!

Another inspiration is the video by ben7 called "reverse engineering the NES to give it super powers". Mr. Ben7 used a raspberry PI to push some better graphics through the NES, and in principle, I am doing the same here. I am using a co-processor to control the audio generation of the SNES.

The videos are attached at the bottom of this post...


Well... so far so good. The project is pretty far already but I will post progress updates everyday as if I am doing it at the moment, so it's more fun to follow the log here.

I honestly hope that I made my intentions clear and whoever reads this is almost as excited about this as I am!! :D I can't get my mind off of this project at the moment! :)




So here are the videos that inspired me, have fun!!