Atari Punk Console
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The Atari Punk Console (commonly shortened to APC) is a popular circuit that utilizes two 555 timer ICs or a single 556 dual timer IC. The original circuit, called a "Sound Synthesizer", was published in a Radio Shack booklet: "Engineer's Notebook: Integrated Circuit Applications" in 1980 and later called "Stepped Tone Generator" in "Engineer's Mini-Notebook - 555 Circuits" by its designer, Forrest M. Mims III (Siliconcepts, 1984). It was named "Atari Punk Console" (APC) by Kaustic Machines crew because its "low-fi" sounds resemble classic Atari console games from the 1980s, with a square wave output similar to the Atari 2600. Kaustic Machines added a -4db line level output with volume control to the circuit which was originally designed to drive a small 8-ohm speaker.
The Atari Punk console is an astable square wave oscillator driving a monostable oscillator that creates a single (square) pulse. There are two controls, one for the frequency of the oscillator and one to control the pulse width. The controls are usually potentiometers but the circuit can also be controlled by light, temperature, pressure etc. by replacing a potentiometer with a suitable sensor (e.g., photoresistor for light sensitivity). Most of the time there is also a power switch (often a toggle switch) and a volume knob.
The circuit is a simple DIY noisemaker circuit that is relatively inexpensive and easy to build, easily adaptable and is configurable in many ways. It has been built into a wide variety of cases. Its flexibility has led to wide scale popularity among electronics enthusiasts. It is often suggested as a good circuit to build for beginners.
- "Engineer's Notebook: Integrated Circuit Applications". Jameco. Retrieved 13 September 2014.
- "Engineer's Mini-Notebook" (PDF). Radio Shack. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 August 2013. Retrieved 13 September 2014.