All posts by mikeuna

Tapetronic gets funky

by Mike Una

For real guys, check out the work of Alexis Malbert, aka Tapetronic. Just look at his website- you can’t deny the power. This gentleman has destroyed more tape decks than you have ever considered buying at the thrift store. View these videos, and feel the rise of your own urge to create tape-mangling monstrosities:

You may note the use of a rotary phone as a rhythmic gate- that’s a technique that Tim Kaiser gets a lot of use out of. It very nicely mimics the motion of scratching on a turntable, even if the sound isn’t the same. Here’s a nice high-energy live performance withs ome of these devices:

Also, you need to check out this animated music video. It’s off the hook:

Based on the Tapetronic myspace page, he’s got a good number of shows coming up in France. Any French benders reading this GetLoFi? Give us a shout-out in the comments.

(found via Today and Tomorrow)

Circuit Bending the Bliptronic 5000

I finally got a chance to bend my Bliptronic 5000, and while I was sad that there was no active synthesis, I’m pretty satisfied with the results.

First, I replaced the internal crystal with a Getlofi Precision Oscillator kit.  That was easy, and it’s very responsive.  I ended up adding a 25k resistor to limit the upper range of the precision oscillator, because the Bliptronic was prone to crashing during any attempt to “speed up” the sample rate.  Sampling down was fine though, and the downward range is quite huge.

I also found a spot on the audio IC that creates a rich harmonic drone.  I should note here that this bend should be done through resistance- I used a 500k pot and found that the audio would distort and cut out when resistance approaches zero.

Additionally, I used a HighlyLiquid MD24 kit to send 5v pulses to the Bliptronic’s Sync In jack, which let me send a MIDI note from Ableton Live to start the Bliptronic’s sequence at the start of each measure.  This allows the Bliptronic to sync with my other devices with relatively good timing. 

By Michael Una

Event this Saturday 10/10, Chicago

flier.JPGby Michael Una.

Circuit Bending dynamic duo Roth Mobot and myself will be exhibiting our recent works and playing some music this Saturday as part of art collective Deadline Projects show Hands On. All the work in the show is meant for the audience to touch and play with. This event will take place at:


ONE NIGHT ONLY– 10/10/09, 6:00PM – 11:00PM FREE

From the press release: Don’t be afraid to touch and interact with the artwork in Hands On, presented by Chicago-based collective, Deadline Projects. Breaking down boundaries between art and audience in this one-night exhibition, local artists unveil new work specifically created to be touched, handled, and manipulated by the audience. Hands On is part of Chicago Artists Month 2009, the fourteenth annual celebration of Chicago’s vibrant visual art community. In October, more than 200 exhibitions of emerging and established artists, openings, demonstrations, tours, open studios and neighborhood art walks take place at galleries, cultural centers and arts buildings throughout the city. Chicago Artists Month is organized by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and is made possible through support provided by Bank of America. For more information, visit:

Participating artists include: Arielle Bielak, nikki hollander, Damien James, Blake Parish Lewis, Roth Mobot, Vivien Park, Sarah Perez, Holly Sabin, Marc Salha, Shawn Stucky, Michael Una, and Russ White.

I’ll also mention here that I’m one of the featured artists selected by the City of Chicago, as evidenced by my smiling face in the picture below.

featured artists

Vactrol and LFO Arrangements

by Michael Una.

This is the first of an occasional series explaining particular solutions for circuit bending and synthesis.  Here’s a little series of tricks I commonly use.  First, consider the vactrol. You can buy vactrols in a variety of manufactured forms, but you can also make your own quite easily.  It’s basically an LED coupled to an photoresistor.  As the brightness of the LED increases, resistance decreases in an inverse relationship.vactrol

Next, try pulsing the LED on and off using a 555 timer– the resistance rises and falls rhythmically. If you use that photoresistor to control the pitch clock resistor of a circuit-bent toy, I think you’ll open the door to an interesting palette of sounds.

vactrol pulse

At the Experimental Garage Sale I sold a toy guitar with this type of modification:

Next step:  try adding a large-value capacitor in parallel with the LED, which will cause the LED to fade out over time instead of quickly switching off.  This shapes the output into more of a ramp/sawtooth type waveform, which will cause the resistance to slide slowly downwards as the wave slopes off.

cap sawtooth

Anyone have their own variations for this type of circuit?  Drop some knowledge in the comments.  Also- big ups to Alex Inglizian for telling me about the capacitor fade a little while back.