USB Lights…

If your’re a bedroom composer/musician like me you know how hard it can be to stay discreet with all your blinking pads/gear/home made noise-machines, while other family members are trying to sleep a few feet/meters away. We want to keep the room dark, but at the same time need to be able to see the labels on the hundres of knobs, switches and sliders that make up our instruments. The solution: USB lights. Cheap, directed and discreet lighting!

Here’s one lighting up my Meeblip:

USB Light...

You can get them at amazon dirt cheap. This is the one I’ve been buying. There are cheaper ones but those I cannot vouch for since I haven’t used them.

Amazon Link: Flexible Mini USB LED Light for PC Notebook Laptop

Sound sample from the Meeblip

Just to give you an idea of what it can sound like :)

Meet the Meeblip!

Ok, time to take the wraps of the secret new addition to my setup. Meet the meeblip!

meeblip main board

Meeblip main board as delivered from Canada

The meeblip is a DIY monophonic 2-oscillator synth that you buy as a kit and assemble yourself. It doesn’t come with any form of keyboard or input device, and this is what the Yamaha QY10 and the Q25 are for.

There are three different kinds of kits, from the solder-and-build-everything-yourself to the all-you-need-is-a-screwdriver kit and I decided to get the simplest one. Cheating! you might say, but I’m not very confident in electrical engineering and I’m horrible at soldering so I figured this would be an excellent start for me.

no soldering required

Main board in place

So why did I decide to get this kit? First of all because it is capable of making some (not all) of those juicy old C64 Sid sounds that we love and cherish, but more importantly because after studying how this kit works, I’m hoping to learn more about synthesis and the HW involved.

To me this is first and foremost a learning tool, but I’m also confident that as I understand more about this instrument it will also find a natural place in actual recording.

almost done

Almost done...

So why did I need a multimeter? After assembling the kit according to the instructions and attempting to power on, the LED on the main board would not light up. This indicates that the MCU isn’t running so my first fear was a damaged board. Efter talking to James (the designer) I got some pointers as to how to check that the correct current was actually coming through to the main board (that’s where the multimeter comes into the picture). Unfortunately all tests on the IO daughter board showed green so we agreed that it might just be a dead main board.

Normally this is very very rare as James tests and programs all kits before he sends them out, but we agreed to do an exchange of just the main board. However, after closer examination by James, it turned out that one batch of the ribbon cables that connect the IO board to the main board had been wired backwards. The connector for the IO cable was slotted so it could only be fitted one way. No problem, with the help of a sharp knife I shaved off the notch on one end of the cable and flipped it.

ribbon cables

Ribbon cables in place (note, this is before the flip!)

Voila, the meeblip now shines and sparkles as expected!

It's alive!

It's alive!

I want to give a big thank you to James who responded super fast and was very helpful in diagnosing the problem. He offered to send a new IO cable but why wait?

Anyways, head on over to to learn more about this amazing little box!

Also, if you’re reading this because you’re having issues with your kit, please either contact Reflex audio through the meeblip website, or check out the meeblip forums at

UPDATE: Here’s an example of what it can sound like: