Hello. This is the Crudlabs CRUDMAN. It is a monophonic, tape-based instrument designed around a single cassette Walkman. It is not designed to replace a Mellotron® and it does not sound like a Mellotron®. It's its own thing which has its own sound and features. It is a new instrument and a tool to find new and interesting musical and atonal sounds using the unique characteristics of cassette tapes.
The Crudman is based around a Walkman which has been elaborately hacked so that a tape of a looped or droning sound (or any other sound) can be precisely sped up or slowed down via Midi or 1v/octave CV to accurately hit notes over a range of 3 octaves.
Multiple Crudmans can be daisy chained for polyphony.
It can be played just like a synthesizer with MIDI or CV in. Standard synthesizer parameters - ADSR, pitch bend, portamento, can all be set using MIDI Control Change messages. CV control is purely cassette speed control, and has two 1/8" inputs - one for 1v/octave control from 0-3v, one which will instantly halt the motor.
The Crudman can provide endless atonal sounscapes but has been designed specifically to be just accurate enough to function as a traditionally melodic musical instrument. You can record anything onto a tape, so if you're a fan of the sound and idiosyncrasies of tape, the possibilities are pretty much endless. If you want to play melodies like any other synthesizer, just put in a tape tuned to C, and you play all the way from C two octaves down, to C one octave up - 3 whole octaves. If you want to make new atonal sounds with the singular qualities of analog cassette tape, just put in a tape with literally any music or sounds on it, and see what happens.
While the concept is simple, the circuits inside are not. The Crudman is the result of a great deal of research and experimentation in trying to build the most versatile and powerful cassette Walkman instrument possible, with the easiest build, lowest cost of parts, and a very simple tuning/calibrating system similar to what's in most analog synths. There were many challenges on the audio, electronic, and electromechanical side.
Some people will find these design challenges and their solutions interesting so I've posted a long piece on them here, and am slowly but surely adding the schematics, code, and other documentation.
Crudmans are being made to order in small quantities. They can be ordered directly from the Crudlabs Etsy Store. Due to high demand there is currently a limit of one per customer per month.
Crudmans are currently sold out but more will be available mid Summer 2016 (though you're still welcome to email firstname.lastname@example.org during that time, most emails receive a response within 48 hours).
If there are none available in the store, please sign up for the mailing list to receive email updates when more become available :