Bare Metal gives this Pi some classic synths

We’re used to seeing the Raspberry Pi pop up in a lot of the projects we show you here, but it’s fair to say they usually have some sort of operating system. There is another way to use a Pi, which is more like using a microcontroller like the Arduino: by programming it directly, called bare metal programming. MiniDexed is an example and copies a classic Yamaha professional synthesizer from the 1980s, by emulating the equivalent of eight of the company’s famous DX7 synthesizers in one unit. It takes almost any Pi, and with the addition of an audio board, rotary encoder, and LCD display, it’s a turnkey device. Below the break is a video of it in action.

It’s fair to say we’re no experts at Raspberry Pi bare metal programming, but it’s worth diving into the world of 80s synthesizers to explore the DX7. This instrument was a staple of popular music in the 1980s and was a major commercial success for Yamaha as an affordable FM synthesizer. This was a process patented at Stanford University in the 1970s and subsequently licensed by the company, unlike other synths of the era that generated sound entirely digitally. It’s hard to overestimate the DX7’s influence, as the sound can be heard everywhere, and it’s not impossible that you could still own a Yamaha FM synth even today if you own a sound card.

Curious about the DX7? Master chip reverse engineer [Ken Shirriff] revealed its secrets late last year.

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