Tachyons+ Transmits #2: The Lo-Fi Future of Adam Gahan

Posted by on August 7, 2014


Tachyons+ Transmits is a column about experimental visual production and DIY electronics by Logan Owlbeemoth of video glitch synth designers Tachyons+.


Who doesn’t want an easy to use Gameboy music-making station in their studio? Anyone who has attempted to make original 8-bit music using an actual Gameboy and music programs like LSDJ, Nanoloop, know that it isn’t the easiest feat to accomplish. Adam Gahan has taken up the idea and devised an incredible DIY electronic creation to do this, which he calls the Grooveboy. At a fresh 20 years old and based out of the U.K., we thought you might like to meet him and learn more about his creations. Crafted under the name Lo-Fi Future, this is a electronic designer to keep your eye on. First lets watch a demo of the Grooveboy in action:

Tell us about the creation of the Grooveboy.
The grooveboy was an idea that came to me about 3 years ago. It was when I first got into chiptune and discovered that people were using the Gameboy to make music. I started thinking about re-housing the Gameboy in a more durable enclosure with a more tactile, arcade-like control surface. It then evolved from the simple idea of rehousing a Gameboy to making an all in one system equipped with MIDI and additional signal processing. Basically, project GrooveBoy is my quest to make the Gameboy a true electronic musical instrument that can integrate into a studio setup the same way any other desktop synthesizer can.

If someone wanted to custom order one, is that possible?
I have sold a couple of these builds, and yes I can build them to order. I recently just finished the GrooveBoy XL that features to synced GBA SPs, an ArduinoBoy, Analog synthacon filter clone, and a Deep blue delay clone, built into a NES enclosure. This was a very complex build, not so much because of the internal circuitry but because of the enclosure itself. I am currently designing a new enclosure that will drastically reduce build time and bring some new features to the table. That being said, a lot of people really like the look of the modified NES enclosure, so I am still willing to take on orders for those, even though they take a very long time to complete versus other enclosure designs.

GrooveBoy XL

How did you get into DIY electronics?
I got into electronics when I first entered junior school; there were a few books on basic electronics that I was immediately drawn too and that sparked the interest for me. My grandfather helped expand that interest into somewhat of an obsession by buying me my first soldering iron and teaching me how to use it shortly after entering junior school. Back then I would have fun modifying RC cars, making my LEGO creations move with the help of reclaimed motors and making tin hand crank van de graaff generators.

What are you currently working on?
At the moment I’m playing with the Arduino a lot, using it to convert MIDI information to trigger pulses to use as sync/trigger voltages for analog synths or to fire relays for MIDI controlled stage lighting. I perform a lot at house parties and small venues, so usually there is not much, if anything for lighting. I wanted something that could produce a light show from MIDI data, as this means every time I program a drum beat; I program a precisely timed light show too. I used a simple bit of code that was written by a guy named Mike Cook for a project of his that involved solenoids to make a toy glockenspiel MIDI controlled. It simply takes in MIDI notes from one octave and converts that information into digital outputs, which in turn can fire relays or solenoids. The code is available here. Once I develop a better understanding of the Arduino IDE, I hope to write my own code from scratch that could do some more complex things in terms of handling the MIDI data.

What was the last thing you made?
The last project was a neat little Bazz Fuss pedal enclosed in an emergency flying ration tin. I have recently got into building pedals and enjoy it a lot. It’s something I plan to start doing on the regular.


What is your next project?
I am currently getting into PCB design, and have a few boards drawn up in dip trace. One of these boards is a rack tool for the studio, It will be somewhat of a patch bay that will allow for super flexible, I hope to maybe make an affordable kit of it. It’s something that I have wanted to do for a few years and I feel like now I have developed some ideas worth releasing in kit form.

Who are some of your inspirations… past electronic designers and present?
In more recent years I have been very inspired by these two people a lot: Jeri Ellsworth and Ben Heckendorn. If you aren’t familiar with their work you should have a look at their portfolios. Ben Heckendorn is an obvious inspiration to me as his speciality is modifying games consoles. He hosts a show which gives you a look into how he accomplishes his builds and gives a good insight to his overall workflow. Information like that, laid out in a fun to watch show really inspires me, and the fact he takes build ideas off of the viewer’s leads to very interesting projects to gain an insight into areas I would otherwise leave untouched. Jeri Ellsworth started out building race cars (and driving them too) from a young age. After a fruitful endeavour in the racing industry, She went on to start her own business and even designed a plug and play games system that would run C64 games from a tiny PCB.

Tell us about your studio.
Well, it’s my bedroom. I have a small desk I built out of reclaimed materials, and some basic tools. Soon enough I may have a dedicated work space somewhere and if that is the case my CNC machine that has been sitting without a spindle for the past 2 years will finally get some love.


Do you have words of inspiration for people wanting to get into DIY electronics?
Become familiar with the soldering iron. Once you have built something that does what it was supposed to do, no matter how simple, it will give you the confidence you need to take on something a little more complex. The net is full of great info on electronics, here are a few great resource’s to check out: element14.comelectro-music.com and MFOS.com

Have you ever tasted a VHS tape?
Only audio cassette, too many carbs in VHS.

Check out more work of Adam Gahan and his Lo-Fi Future here.