Introducing: Jeri Ellsworth

Today I would like to introduce you to the queen of DIY electronics. Her name is Jeri Ellsworth. She has done many amazing things in her career as an entrepreneur, self-taught computer chip designer and all round DIY hacking legend.

Her interest in electronics began when she taught herself how to program using manuals from the Commodore 64. By the time she was in high school, she was designing, making and selling dirt-track race cars. From the age of 21 she ran her own computer repair shop before selling up in the early 2000’s.

In 2004 she went on to develope the extremely popular C64 Direct to TV .This ingenious device is a Commodore 64 within a single joystick that contains 30 games from the 80’s. As documented in the Lifehacker article where she was named MacGyver of the Day, she impressively reverse engineered the Commodore 64 using an FPGA (field-programmable gate array). If this wasn’t impressive enough, she did it all from this photo.
Other interesting projects and hacks include a 52-inch Etch-A-Sketch, Nintendo Purse, DIY Pinball Machine and a C64 Bass Guitar.

I will leave you now with some sage advice straight from Ms. Ellsworth that will keep you in good stead when traversing the often intimidating world of DIY electronics.

by Bryan Dunphy


C64 Bass Guitar by Jeri Ellsworth

I love Jeri Ellsworth.

Image source:


She always comes up with the coolest hacks, and this one does not disappoint. Jeri has taken an old bass guitar and attached it, using some piezo pickups and some nifty programming, to a Commodore 64! Surely the ultimate chip-tune, electro-acoustic instrument?

The C64 bass can also act as a Keytar and various waveforms can be selected from the keyboard

Here’s an interview with Jeri at a recent Makerfaire where she explains a little about the build process.

Jeri is actually a self-taught electrical engineer and has been a huge inspiration to me for a while now. Search her name on Youtube to check out some  of her podcasts and cool projects.