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MagBlaster Hardware Sega Genesis Video Game Music Player #MusicMonday

This is an awesome open source project for revisiting some of your favorite Genesis tunes. Aidan Lawrence‘s blog lays out the build in excellent detail. From the project GitHub:

This project is a hardware Video Game Music (VGM) player that uses a genuine YM2612 synthesizer chip + SN76489AN PSG. This project is driven by an STM32 “Blue Pill” board, chosen for it’s ample speed, I/O, and best of all, price!

Included in this repository is the source code for the project, all of the schematic files, and a completed Ki-CAD printed circuit board /w Gerber files. Feel free to produce your own board!

Information about the main sound chips and VGM

The YM2612 is a 6-channel FM synthesizer IC that was most prominently featured in the Sega Genesis (AKA Megadrive) home video game console. The YM2612 was also featured in the FM-Towns home computer and the Sega C2 Arcade System. The YM2612 also had a CMOS alias that is functionally identical named the YM3438. The SN76489 is a 3-channel + 1 noise channel programmable sound generator (PSG) that was popular with several early video game systems and home computers. Most notably, the SN76489 was featured in the Sega Master system, the predecessor to the Genesis. To allow for backwards compatibility, Sega included a clone of the SN76489 in their new Genesis consoles. Programmers and sound designers could leverage the SN76489 to add three more square wave channels to the YM2612’s 6-channels of FM synth, creating 9 channels + 1 noise channels in total. While this player was designed with the Genesis in mind, it can play back any VGM files designed for the Master System, FM-Towns PC, C2 machine, or any other machine that used the YM2612/YM3438 and/or the SN76489. This project synthesizes music from .VGM files in real time on genuine hardware. There is no emulation here.

Learn more from Github and here.


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