The Beat Benders Series: Bling Bling

This is a toy that began its life as a Wild Planet's Hip Hop Beat Blender, a weird music making toy that is kinda cool, but way too complex for most kids to figure out. Most adults, for that matter. At least, not without the manual...You slide the orange slider to select one of 4 banks that you can sequence by pushing the buttons on the left side: drums, rhythm, and lead, each with 4 different loops you can layer onto each other. (Check out the cool flash virtual Beat Blender here). It also has limited volume and speed control, and a very useful auto-fill feature that fills the banks with random loops. So, you see how complex it is...

So, the guys over at RobotSpeak know some of the dudes that make these, and so they gave me a couple to see what sort of monstrosity I could make out of it.

After poking around a bit, I was unable to find much. The logic was too volatile, and much crashing (of the uninteresting silent locking-up kind) ensued. But, I did find the clock resistor which I replaced with an optical resistor which makes the sound go from wayyy low to super fast. Neat! And, when using blinky-blinky LEDs, you can sequence the sounds in interesting and versatile ways.

This one, Bling Bling, turned out really nice. The paintjob is interesting, and the addition of gems to add some dope bling is just the finishing touch Paris asked for. Or is that dopey bling...

And, check this out! The "official" Beat Blenders website has noticed my electronic fiddling and manipulation of their intellectual property! Here is their page of "mods" where they show a picture of the BeatBender "Proto" and link to this page you are reading (BlingBling). You could just keep clicking back and forth and get stuck in a loop...

Here is the final packaging for Bling Bling. It is currently for sale at RobotSpeak. Talk to them if you're interested in it.

Update: It has sold to some dude in Sacto, CA.

One interesting aspect of the Beat Benders is that the designers put in ethernet cable (an RJ-45 socket and a cable) to link two or more together. So, you can plug one into the other, and whatever sequence is playing in one will, at the end, trigger the next one in line to start playing, then at the end of the chain will go back to the first. Interesting, but kinda superfluous. I tried to hack this, but had no luck...too volatile.

Find here some board scans with a diagram showing how to get the pitch bend to work, and how to fix the damn manufacturing defect of distorted audio out when using the headphone out jack.

I masked the "l" off the original "Beat Blender" to make the thing now say "Beat Bender."

Here's a closeup of the new "Beat Benders" logo. It got kinda messed up, but you get the idea.


Nice jewels!

Another shot from the other side. I also added a reset switch because of the crashy volatility of the gadget...

The back of Bling Bling.
  Bling Bling instructions.
Completed: 12/19/04
Dimensions: Appx. 6" long
Current Status:

Bling Bling was making all the other electronic instruments at RobotSpeak jealous of its fabulous bejewelling. Now it is owned by some guy in Sacramento, CA. If you are him, and you are reading this, get in touch with me!

Audio Bits:

Here's a nice example of regular to slowwwww: BB_BB01.mp3
Here are some examples of using an LED blinky-blinky ring to sequence the sounds:
BB_BB02.mp3, BB_BB03.mp3, BB_BB05.mp3
And, when the gadget is held too close to the light, it usually crashes, and in this case, in a very interesting way: BB_BBDataCrash.mp3