Update - February 23, 2002:
Paul Slocum has chosen the three winners
for the Synthcart Beat Contest! Out of the many wonderful
beats submitted, these are the three that will garner their
creators a free Synthcart:
We encourage you
to listen to the three winners by simply clicking on the above
links. And if you want to listen to all the submissions, follow
this link to the bottom of the
page. Remember, these beats were recorded straight from an
Atari 2600! Paul will also be including additional entries
on the Synthcart, and will be announcing the complete list
of beats to be included in a few days. If you'd like to discuss
the contest results with other AtariAge visitors and Paul
Slocum, please visit our message
We thank everyone who took the time to submit
entries and hope that you all had fun!
Paul Slocum and AtariAge are sponsoring a contest
that will allow you to contribute to Paul's upcoming Synthcart
cartridge for the Atari 2600. Paul has created a Beat
Box Programming Kit that will allow anyone to create beats that
can then be played on a real 2600.
Three winners will be chosen by Paul among those who submit
beats that are included with the Synthcart. Those winners will receive
a free Synthcart! Each contestant may only win one cartridge. However,
Paul has room to fit over 30 beats on the Synthcart, so even if
you're not one of the lucky winners, your beats can still be included!
More information on how to enter the contest can be found below.
The Synthcart is a rather unique cartridge that allows you
to play music on the Atari 2600 using a pair of keyboard controllers.
Each keyboard controller controls one of the two oscillators in
the Atari 2600. Some features of the Synthcart include:
- Play using an assortment of familiar Atari sounds
- Use two different sound types at a time, one assigned to each
- Intelligent voice management constantly reassigns the two oscillators
for maximum perceived polyphony
- 8th, 16th, and 32nd note arpeggiator
- Can arpeggiate both oscillators simultaneously
- Beat Box with many preprogrammed beats and fills
- Play two beats simultaneously to create custom beats
- Two tremelo settings
- Four attack/release settings
- User interface designed so that you can program and play the
synth without a TV. Modify your Atari with an audio out, and you
just need your Atari and an amp.
More detailed information about the Synthcart and its capabilities
can be found on the Synthcart
Here are some sample beats that Paul Slocum has created. These
are examples of live, real-time output from a single Atari 2600.
The melodies in the first two examples are being played live while
accompanied by programmed beats. The third example is all programmed
beats with the Atari output run through reverb and a filter.
There are some additional examples below.
The contest will run until Midnight (CST), Sunday, February
17th, 2002. All submissions must be received by this time! Paul
Slocum will choose the winning entry after the contest deadline
In order to create beats that can be used with the Synthcart, you'll
need to download the Beat Box Programming Kit:
Beat Box Programming Kit
Instructions for using the kit are as follows (they are also in
the Readme.txt file included with the kit):
The beat player Atari program is the beats.bin file. This will
run in emulators, can be loaded into the Cuttle
Cart, loaded into a Supercharger with the WPlayBin
program, or burned on an EPROM.
The beat player supports two beats. Turn on/off the two beats individually
using the left and right difficulty switches. The B&W/Color
switch controls the tempo. To edit the beats and make your own,
open the beatdata.h file in a text editor. Read the instructions
in the file, and make your modifications.
After you have modified the beatdata.h file, save it and then run
asm.bat. This will re-compile the beats.bin file. Re-open beats.bin
in your emulator or re-load it on your Atari and see what your beats
Len Charest has created a web-based
graphical interface for generating the beatdata.h file required
to enter the Synthcart Beat Programming Contest. This tool allows
you to create new beats using a fairly intuitive interface, and
there's even help available should you need it.
Here are some tips from Synthcart's creator,
The beat player program actually has the space for two beats
to be programmed, and is capable of playing both of them simultaneously.
The Synthcart is also capable of playing two beats at once, so try
programming two beats that work together.
Listen to example (combine.mp3)
A "beat" doesn't have to necessarily sound like a
drum beat. The beat player is capable of producing many different
kinds of sounds, so you can do bass lines, note patterns, or just
about any crazy thing you can think of.
Listen to example (weirdness.mp3)
Although the beat player doesn't support it, the Synthcart will
also support fills. When playing a beat, every fourth measure the
Synthcart will play an alternate version of the beat. If you submit
a beat, you may (but are not required to) submit an alternate version
of the beat for me to use as a fill.
Listen to an example (fill.mp3)
- Once you have created some beats you are happy with, you can
submit them by emailing the beatdata.h file to email@example.com.
You can also just copy the beat data text into an e-mail and send
- Each submitter is limited to a maximum of five entries. If after
submitting five entries you'd like to replace one of your existing
beats (presumably with one you like better), we'll allow that.
- Submissions will be posted publicly on this page as we receive
- You can discuss this contest with other AtariAge visitors and
Paul Slocum in our 2600
- The contest ends at Midnight (CST), Sunday, February 17th,
2002! All submissions must be received by this date!