From the beginning … PalmSounds on video, back in 2013: Palm OS controls

From the beginning … PalmSounds on video, back in 2007: The old SG20

“This is a little film showing what BeatPad can do. I’m using BeatPad here on a TRG Pro device running at just 16 mhz. The TRG Pro has an SG20 MIDI module plugged in. In the video I’m adjusting the pattern to change the drum sounds accessed.”

I love the old SG20 MIDI module for a Palm device. It only worked with older devices like the Palm III or the TRG Pro as in this video, but it was way ahead of its time.

Swivel Systems are no more?

I tried to find the site for Swivel Systems to have a look on the offchance that they were making something new? Sadly the site is no longer there. I think they may have disappeared completely, which is a shame really.

The SG20 was the very first module I got. It fitten onto the base of my palm IIIx and was slightly smaller than a packet of cigarettes. It was a GM module that had a midi in/out box that you could attach to it, although I never used this.

The quality of the sounds was excellent, and I always enjoyed using it, but as with all these things you get to a point where you say, actually it is too big / cumbersome / too many bits of kit to lug about, and that’s what happened. In a way I wish I’d kept it, but I know I wouldn’t use it at all.

The SG20 tone module clips on to a Palmâ„¢ III type handheld computer or a Palm V or Vx with an adapter, creating a compact mobile music platform. Coupled with software from miniMusicâ„¢, it gave musicians portable real-time control over their music.

In addition to the SG20, Swivel Systems were working on a Springboard Module for Springboard compatible handhelds, such as the Handspring Visor handheld computer. Similar to the SG20, this module would have provided Visor handhelds with a General MIDI synthesizer for extremely portable music creation. Of course there was the beatplus module for Visor, but it was very hard to get hold of indeed.

Here’s the original feature list for the SG20:


  • stereo mini headphone jack for private use
  • volume control knob and bass boost switch
  • connector for detachable MIDI/Audio expander cable which provides full-size standard MIDI in and out ports in addition to left and right phono jacks to hook your SG20 into your studio
  • compatible with MIDI software from miniMusic including BeatPad and NotePad
  • import and play back standard MIDI files (SMF) using third party software
  • up to 24 simultaneous 16 bit 44.1 kHz CD quality wavetable voices (16 pitched instrument voices and 8 percussion voices)
  • choose from 128 different instrument sounds
  • 140 different percussion sounds organized in 8 drum kits
    built-in chorus and reverb
  • weeks of regular use on one pair of AAA batteries (included)
  • directly compatible with all Palm III and VII series handhelds (also works Palm V/Vx using a Palmdock V from Solvepoint Corporation), IBM Workpads, and HandEra’s 330 and TRGpro

It is a real shame thet they are no more. I like to think what it might have been like if they had made a new module for the T series PDAs, but I doubt that will ever happen.

If you ever had one or indeed still do, please let me know what you think of this very original piece of hardware.

BeatPad 1.5 coming Spring 2007

BeatPad was one of the first pieces of musical software I purchased for the palm. BeatPad is a sequencer for the palm. It has a single monophonic music sequence and a drum pattern editor. It arranges patterns into four banks, A through D, and each bank has 8 patterns in it.

In version 1.1 you can tell the app to move from one pattern to the next, but you can’t give it specific instructions like “A1 four times, then A2 etc”. I’m sure that this sort of thing will come in a later version.

In version 1.5 the new low latency synth that’s being used with MixPad will be incorporated into the app.

On of the things I’ve always loved about this app is the interface, although that is something you can say about all of the miniMusic software. The BeatPad interface is very user friendly, but also beautifully designed. Try it out, you’ll like it.

Matrixsynth: miniMusic BeatPad driving a Voyager and 909

Matrixsynth: miniMusic BeatPad driving a Voyager and 909

Good post on the use of BeatPad and external MIDI hardware. Nice shot of a Palm M515 running it all. Interesting blog too.

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