Morphotron I

Morphotron I - This has the words "Toy Park" on the back, but I'm not sure if that's the name or the manufacturer. When I acquired it, three of the buttons weren't functioning. A look at the innards revealed copious amounts of black grit and rust, suggesting it was left in a puddle, under a downspout, or something of that ilk. Nasty. I gave it a reasonable clean (it would have to be completely dismantled to get rid of all the gunk) and cleaned all the contacts. This fixed one button. A bit of poking about with a multimeter led me to a broken trace at the black blob, which is mounted on a separate piece of board and therefore prone to easy breakage. A bit of resoldering did the trick.

There are four sample-based sounds on this device: piano, dog, cat, and bird, each playable by the 8 buttons (notes "red" to "purple" in an unorthodox scaling system ;). All modifications to this toy feed into the pitch resistor connection, and give it surprising versatility considering this is the only decent bend point.

- Pitch knob. I used a 1 meg ohm, clipped one end of the pitch resistor, and wired it in between this point so that the pitch remains "stock" with the knob turned all the way up. It pitches the sound down a good few octaves, and brings out subtle harmonics in the sounds.
- Pitch drop switches x2. A two switch matrix, each connecting a 1 meg ohm resistor into the works. This, in effect, allows the player to get 3x the pitch out of the pitch knob.
- Body contacts. Attached to each lug of the pitch pot, these aren't terribly sensitive, but are great for adding custom vibrato.
- Warp switches (audition & hold). These connect a 10 microfarad capacitor to each lug of the pitch pot, and create a very cool vibrato/drift effect, which is particularly effective on the piano and cat sounds. The former can be made to sound like a UFO in flight by combining this with the pitch drops.
- Output jack.

Oh yes, and when I removed the tulip so I could mount the body contacts it left an ugly depression, so I glued in some reflective paper from a greeting-card envelope. Not very functional, but definitely eye-catching.

Sound clips:

Piano - pitch range A simple demonstration of the pitch knob.
Piano - pitch Some menacing bass notes.
Piano - pitch drop Switching on the pitch drops while "warp" is engaged.
Cat - pitch The very silly "human impersonating a cat" sounds and what happens to them when met with resistance.
Cat - warp The cat in warp mode, with some body-contact action at the end.
Cat - pitch 2 What happens to the cat when I drop the pitch waaaay down.
Cat - body contacts Distorted cat-o-phone body-contact thrash!
Dog & Bird - pitch I'm not so impressed with the dog and bird sounds, but here's what they sound like with some pitch and body-contact noodling.
Dog - pitch The dog pitch-dropped with some body-contact vibrato.

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