Strange Loop

Soul from Scratch: Designing a More Portable Organ

Your Hammond B-3 sounds like nothing on Earth, but at 450 lbs your friends are sick of helping you carry it. They demand that you make it lighter, or they'll stop showing up to your gigs.

I will present the technical design of the Hammond B-3 and its frequent collaborator the Leslie rotating speaker cabinet, then model their audio components digitally. I'll show how to implement each of these components on a microcontroller. With a 20,000x savings in weight, you won't need friends!

This organ synthesizer includes full MIDI control of notes, drawbar settings, and effects. Recreate it inexpensively at home or apply its principles in other contexts.

The journey follows successes and failures of my initial design and optimizations that allow the simulation to run on a very low powered device. There's something for creative programmers, music fans, makers, and optimizers. My intent is to give enough groundwork that you can walk away and write your own synthesizer.

Peter Teichman

Peter Teichman


Peter enjoys everyday nature: rooftop ravens, beach succulents, and notable hills. His creative projects intersect hardware and software to play with perceptions of time, create sounds, and engage with the weird internet. In his remaining time, he works on image processing and edge applications at Fastly.