British-designed Vintage Toy Synthesiser scoops first prize in global element14 Music Tech Design Challenge

  • Winner is invited to attend Hack Camp at Music Tech Fest Berlin
  • element14 to sponsor the festival’s Hack Camp in association with sponsors BeagleBone, Autodesk Fusion 360 and CadSoft Eagle and more

British-born Liam Lacey’s Vintage Toy Synthesiser, which turns a vintage wooden toy piano into a standalone digital hardware synthesiser using the BeagleBone Black, has won element14’s global Music Tech Design Challenge.

As part of his prize-package Liam receives an access-all-areas trip to the 10th annual Music Tech Fest (#MTFBerlin) taking place from 27th – 30th May at Berlin’s legendary Funkhaus recording studios; an event which brings together innovative presenters, inventors, performers, hackers, makers, developers of novel instruments and emerging artists to explore the new frontiers of music technology. During #MTFBerlin Liam will also present his winning project live on stage as part of the element14 sponsored Hack Camp.

The element14 Hack Camp will be held in the the event’s central maker zone where other attendees are able to watch as new inventions take shape over the course of the day.

#MTFBerlin received over 150 applications to the Hack Camp and will allow 50 selected hackers and inventors to participate onsite. element14 is providing the competitors with kits that include a BeagleBone Black, Raspberry Pi, Arduino boards, microphones, speakers, and LEDs to create their designs.

Ben, Felix and Max from element14’s ‘The Ben Heck Show’ will also be on hand to film an episode at the festival. Ben and Felix will lend expertise to the 50 participants – running from 12pm Saturday 28th until 12pm Sunday 29th.

All participants competing in the Hack Camp will present their final invention on stage – with the winner awarded a £1,740 ‘ultimate shopping cart’ from element14.com.

“The Music Tech Fest Hack Camp isn’t just trying to create entertainment hacks… we really want to see innovative creations that have a real future. It’s great to have the element14 team on board to help facilitate what will be a truly a creative workshop for music tech hackers, makers and developers to reinterpret ways of perceiving, experiencing and performing musical sounds through Open Source technologies.”
Andrew Dubber, Director of Music Tech Fest
“I've spent the majority of my free time over the past 3 and half months working on this project, and I couldn't be happier with the result. My skills in both software and hardware development have dramatically improved thanks to this project, and even though it's been a lot of hard work it has been a very fun experience. During the project the element14 Community has been a great resource. I’m thrilled to have won the overall challenge and that my creation will be a part of #MTFBerlin.”
Liam Lacey, Competition Winner
“We are incredibly excited to be sponsoring The Music Tech Fest element14 Hack Camp in such a big way, with a vast supply of components and kit. Technology is changing the way we interact with and manipulate music and this affiliation marks both a finale to a terrific five month element14 Open Source Music Tech Global Design Challenge and the beginning of even more exciting content on element14.com that will appeal to musicians and technologists globally. Sending our element14.com web series star Ben Heck and our Grand Prize Winner Liam Lacey from the UK, who invented the Vintage Toy Synthesiser to mingle and jam on the main stage will make the weekend eventful throughout!”

Jane Watson, element14 Design Challenge Specialist

About the Premier Farnell Group


Premier Farnell plc (LSE:pfl) is a global leader in high service distribution of technology products and solutions for electronic system design, production, maintenance and repair. Trading as Farnell element14 in Europe, Newark element14 in North America and element14 across Asia Pacific, it had sales last year of £982.7m, the Group is supported by a global supply chain of more than 3,000 suppliers and an inventory profile developed to anticipate and meet its customers’ needs.


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