Electronics For Beginners

By: thirdpearl

Apr 22 2012

Tags: , , ,

Category: Crafts, Geekery

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Geeky and noisy: this is a pocket theremin! I know very little about electronic guts, despite being a fairly geeky person; my tech job has taught me to solder, but only audio cables. (i’m a whiz at XLRs.) Ever the curious child, I would often take things (stereos, answering machines) apart, never taking the opportunity to learn how it all worked or how to put it back together. But with the wealth of knowledge shared on the internet, that is changing… a while ago I stumbled upon the directions for this pocket theremin (from Popular Science, of course!) and finally rounded up all the parts and time to try it for myself. (in good adventurous fashion, i initially tried it by soldering first and asking questions later, which resulted in missing a connection, a horrible mess of wires, and no sound – then i got a breadboard and learned something.)

It’s a photosensitive device – the two taller prong-y things in the picture are the photoreceptors. The pitch varies depending on how much light they’re exposed to, which means to get any sound, you must play it in a dark room using a flashlight. (too much light and it overloads, making no sound.) It’s noise is like a tuning space-radio in a vintage sci-fi movie – a spastic oscillating pitch effect, with stepped tones instead of the graceful, eerie swoon of a real theremin. (but a satisfyingly fun noise to manipulate.) Now to find a neat box for it, and solder it all up!

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