…how to build a DIY video synthesizer on the cheap

*Disclaimer: Do not read any further, and especially do not attempt any of the procedures described below.

Didn’t listen, ok, you asked for it.

The CHA/V (CHEAP, HACKY, A/V) is a #DIY, #audiovisual, #A/V, #video synthesizer, that has inexplicably been built by civilians around the world, as well as in international workshops and fancy art schools. I also will never shut up about the fact that it was included in Handmade Electronic Music, one of my all-time favorite books. Now that all my impressive-sounding words and hashtags in there we can begin communicating like humans. If you are new to video synths, fasten your seat belt. You just opened up a huge can of wormholes.

This project has grown a lot since I launched it in 2016 (under the title “how to make a crap video synth for $10), so much so that it unfortunately requires a table of contents now.


CHA/V Designs

Bring me to the page for the fancy store-bought stuff — the DIY PCBs with a picture of the horse on the back that are still insanely cheap somehow.

VGA Signal Conversion

Waitaminute, it just has a VGA output? How am I supposed to use it with other equipment?

The Original Tutorial

Stop trying to sell me stuff! I just want the old page so I can make my own crap video synth for $10 without buying your dumb horse PCBs.

Version History

There are too many versions of the CHA/V. I have no idea which one is which. Please, please, please bore me with the entire story.


CHA/V Hall of Shame


Old workshop stuff with some useful links and video. You can also see the crazy wiring that I used to torture workshop participants with and think about how easy you have it now.

Note: Don’t be a jerk and take advantage of a small DIY project. This information may not be used to rip people off in whatever crapitalist scheme you’ve cooked up. The information provided here is meant for personal use only, using anything here commercially is dumb and also legally prohibited. Don’t be one of those idiots who sells CHA/V synth ripoffs on eBay for $200. Also, don’t be an idiot who buys one of them. You can make one yourself. Really, you can do it. I’ll also do commission builds if you really, really don’t want to build one yourself, but, fair warning: I’ll probably try to encourage you to do it yourself first.

Here’s the legal mumbo-jumbo:

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Screen Shot 2020-02-18 at 5.26.07 AM.png