Edmonton

Blotendo: Edmonton gamer dreams up new instrument

Now you can relive all your retro gaming glory in the key of C. Edmonton’s Brady Grumpelt is capitalizing on nostalgia for the games with a new product called the Harmonicartridge.

Relive your gaming glory in the key of C

Brady Grumpelt is capitalizing on nostalgia for Nintendo games with a new product called the Harmonicartridge. (CBC)

People who played Nintendo games in the 1990s may well remember huffing and puffing with frustration while they waited for the system to load.

But many players likely knew the secret to ridding their screens of frozen pixels — pull the plastic cartridge out, blow out the dust and slide it back in.

Game On.

Now it's possible to can relive all that retro gaming glory in the key of C.

Edmonton's Brady Grumpelt is capitalizing on nostalgia for the games with a new product called the Harmonicartridge.

It's a hybrid that combines that classic cartridge case with a harmonica.

Edmonton's Brady Grumpelt is capitalizing on nostalgia with Harmonicartridge, a 3D-printed fusion of game and instrument. 0:38

"I had a weird idea one day," said Grumpelt. "My tired brain thought — I saw someone blowing on an old school Nintendo game and I thought for a second that it was a harmonica. And I quickly corrected myself, but I thought, 'Well, geez. Did somebody ever do that?

"So I took to the Internet and did a bit of searching, and didn't find anything."

Grumpelt and his friend Ryan Senger took the novel idea to Lucas Sloan, who runs a 3D printing company in Edmonton, to create their first prototype.

"I said, 'Can you put these two things together and make this a thing?' And he was able to do it, and it turned out pretty good on the first attempt."

"You get a good sound out of it. We do have to do a little bit of machining as far as the cases themselves, but it's not too bad. We've timed it out and we could still turn out a few hundred a day if we needed to."

And so a new instrument, and business venture, was born.

They created a parent company, called Blotendo, and launched a Kickstarter campaign, complete with a cheesy promotional video. As of Wednesday, they had raised more than $1,800 of their $4,000 goal to finance large scale production of the instruments.  

If funding comes through by the end of October, they hope to have the first few hundred units, complete with custom labels, shipped by early December.

Although the unusual mouth harps promise a crisp, clean sound, Grumpelt said they are designed with old school gamers, not serious musicians,  in mind.

"I would say this is for people like me that love Nintendo," said Grumpelt. "I was born in 1986, so right when Nintendo was a big thing, that's when I was playing as a kid.

"I still remember leaving that little light on so I could get up and beat the game the next morning, so it was a fond memory I always had, blowing out those cartridges trying to make them work."

Grumpelt has been reminiscing about one of his favourite games by learning how to play the Mario Bros. theme song on his new creation.