The 1980s was a decade known for many things, but as far as musical instruments go, few scream ’80s more than the keytar. This instrument has keys like a piano, but a neck and body in the shape of a guitar, taking the form of something that would appear to be perfect for live and mobile performances. While its heyday was short-lived, using both new and old components Sam Wray, Sidd Vadgama, and Greig Stewart came up with a new type of keytar called “The Blade,” featuring sound outputs from another ’80s classic, the Game Boy.
Components in the build read like a who’s who (a what’s what?) of hacking, with an Arduino Mega used to take inputs from dual guitar Hero Necks, along with a modified Rock Band keytar unit. The Mega outputs MIDI signals to a Raspberry Pi, which passes data to a MIDI box, to an Arduinoboy, and finally to the Game Boys for actual sound production. If all that wasn’t enough, the setup even has a Leap Motion sensor embedded in the neck, allowing for further sound modification.
You can watch it being played by Them&Us in the video below. Lead singer — and now lead keytarist! — Ami Carmine can be seen presumably using the Leap Motion to modify the sound with her hand just after the 2:00 mark.