All posts by Sailormouth

Kickstart Bending

By sailormouth
Have you heard about or do you know about If no, you should really check it out. It is a website with a simple premise behind it. Present the folks who work there with a project that you need help funding. They look over your proposal to see if it fits their guidelines, and if it can stand on its own you put your project on their site. Why am I talking about this on getlofi if this isn’t about bending?

Two reasons:
The first is to tell all you bender friends out there that getlofi will help support and promote your bending related project by getting the word out here on
The second is to show by example and promote my new sequencer project which just opened on Kickstarter this week.

A few details to mention.
The funding of projects is all or nothing. Each project has a specific end date that if the funding level is not met the backers of the project do not pay the amounts they pledged.
Currently only people who have a US bank account and a US address can start a project. This is a limitation of Amazon who handles all the money for all the Kickstarter projects. Kickstarter says they will in the future be able to allow international project creators.
Anyone can be a backer for a project, no US bank account or address required for that.

The project I have on Kickstarter is for making a new sequencer. I am trying to raise money for new development tools and equipment to move to a different microcontroller so I can add new features. There are several pledge levels with incentives that range from a compilation of backer created mp3 tracks all the way up to a built sequencer with a set of four bent toys. Contribution levels in between also include the sequencer as a kit or different TI toys ready for me to bend. You can click the images link below to come by and check it out. Let others know about the project and about Kickstarter.
Thank you,

Modular Random Music Sequencer project

This is a video I made to show that the sequencer can create synced lightshows to go with the music.

Fuzzy Sequencer

By Sailormouth

I have been getting questions about what my pseudo random or fuzzy microcontroller sequencer does, and how it does it. You may remember about 6 months I talked about several kinds of sequencers including the microcontroller sequencer. The concept behind this sequencer is to let it do the work of composing and triggering whatever toys are connected to it. This allows focusing on tweaking the modifications on the toys, and to use a mixer to layer or enhance sounds. The toys have to be prepped with rca jacks to be connected to the sequencer. After this is done the sequencer acts as remote buttons for the toys. The microcontroller is programmed to trigger the buttons in randomly generated patterns. When powered on or reset the code randomly, as random as small digital can be hence pseudo and fuzzy, creates an array of numbers that correspond to the four channels of the sequencer. Then an increment or step size is randomly selected as well as a number of times to repeat moving through the array using that increment size. For example an array of 32 elements might looked like this:
1, 1, 4, 3, 1, 3, 2, 4, 2, 4, 1, 4, 4, 4, 3, 1, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 1, 4, 4, 4, 2, 3, 2, 3, 1, 1

If the increment size was 4 and it would repeat this 3 times the pattern would look like this:
1, 1, 2, 4, 1, 2, 4, 2, <repeat> 1, 1, 2, 4, 1, 2, 4, 2, <repeat> 1, 1, 2, 4, 1, 2, 4, 2

If the next randomly selected numbers were 2 and 2 the pattern would be:
1, 4, 1, 2, 2, 1, 4, 3, 1, 3, 2, 1, 4, 2, 2, 1, <repeat> 1, 4, 1, 2, 2, 1, 4, 3, 1, 3, 2, 1, 4, 2, 2, 1

This continues to repeat selecting increment and times to loop until the sequencer is stopped. There is no pause or lag between repeats or moving to the next pattern. Up to four different toys can be triggered per channel, and a mixer allows for complimentary or opposing sounds to be synced. Grouping different sounds for each channel is flexible with the rca jacks. At any point sounds can be swapped from one channel to another. The tempo control combined with the duration of sounds triggered can change the over feel of tracks. An ambient sound scape of low end lower pitch growls can easily become an aggressive torrent of unusual unexpected beats.

Depending on the extent of modifications to the individual toys, or not, effects pedals can always be used as well to add something more. In the possibility of having an odd, irregular, or just bad pattern the mixer can be used to try to downplay this. Another option is to use the “soft kill” switch that will complete the pattern of the current loop regardless of how many more times it would otherwise have left to repeat. Then simply press a button to build a new array and begin playing patterns. On the other hand if a good pattern is going a different switch can latch the loop until the switch is thrown back again no matter how many loop repeats were remaining. There are two LEDs to roughly indicate how many times a pattern is going to repeat so that there is an opportunity to latch the loop. All the patterns in a track are a loose free form that is not remembered or reproducible by the sequencer.

drum & dj track one
drum & dj track two

As well as toys being controlled by the sequencer I have made a light box circuit to sync a light show to the sounds. This is not a color organ that responds to frequency or intensity of the actual sounds. It acts like the sounds triggered. When a sequencer channel is active one of four channels in the light box turns on any/all lights connected to that channel. Each light box channel can handle up to 2 amps at 115 volts AC. 40 watt bulbs are plenty bright enough so 5 light fixtures per channel can be used, 20 lights in all. If multiple lights are used they can be placed mixed together or in groups.

DIY Modular Sequencer Circuit Examples

by SailorMouth

So you have amassed a pile of circuit bent toys. What are you going to do with them now? Each creation has its own control interface — pitch knob, distortion and glitch switches, body contacts, and/or LDRs — and of course, the buttons to bring the noise. Naturally, though, you can only play so many toys at one time. Enter the modular sequencer, which will assist in making some sense of balancing control.

I chose to approach this project from the view of low-cost DIY because I have more time than money. With my time, I have been able to learn new things, which have grown to their own new ideas. I have kept the cost of working through new designs low, spending as much on components as I would for bending a piece, anyway. I am on my fifth sequencer design, and through all of them, the adapter interface to the bent toys has stayed the same. It is simple and expandable. It can work on basic 2 wire buttons and matrix buttons. The toys all have the same connection method, but the control circuits have changed from step to programmable to various pseudo random designs.

I will break this down to prepping the toy, adapter interface, control circuit, and some of what can be done. This will get somewhat technical, but it can be done with patience and rereading confusing parts. I’m also happy to answer questions. All though I refer to toys this can be applied to instruments, sound circuits you build, or anything with buttons that make sounds.

Continue reading DIY Modular Sequencer Circuit Examples

Experimental Electronic Artist – Eric Archer Interview

If you have not heard of Eric Archer stop now. Check out his site, specifically the devices, and then come back to this. Eric is a prolific designer/builder in Austin, Texas with a knack for composing eyecandy that sounds as good as it looks. He is a unique creator with a passion for analog circuits with descrete logic controls instead of microcontrollers. His BBoT and ABoT creations are probably best known for their dazzling led lightshow and mind blowing sonic properties, which Eric employs either by himself, or as half of E-Squared or Bodytronix.


His work with Bleep Labs on the Andromeda Mk IR linkable sound modules, which are often used in Handmade Music Austin learning workshops, is as impressive as his circuits that convert light to sound or those that can generate complex visuals to be viewed on scopes or even plotted on paper.

Money Synth

I actually found Eric’s work through photos on Flickr, and followed back to his own site.

He seems to have a pretty full schedule, but he found some time to answer some questions for an interview.

Continue reading Experimental Electronic Artist – Eric Archer Interview

Get Your Fade On – Ramp Wave Oscillator

Hello everyone, with the start of the new year I am sure some of you made a resolution to try a new simple modification or circuit. Even if you did not make that resolution here is a simple circuit for thought. Using a 1458 op amp you can make a triangle wave generator to drive a pair of leds that fade instead of just flash.

1458 schematic

On a toy with a simple pitch resistor replace that resistor with a LDR (Light Dependent Resistor, call it what you want we all know what they do) and a limiting resistor in series to prevent crashing. While you are making that substitution you might want to wire in a pot in parallel with the LDR so that both the LDR and pot connect to the outer legs of a SPDT switch with center leg connecting back to pcb. The other side of the pot and LDR connections go to the limiting resistor. With that setup you can choose by the switch to use either the pot or the LDR/1458 for pitch control. Now you could leave the toy like that and use the LDR with any light source, but I like to enclose the LDR with one of the leds for the best response of the led light and darkness. The second led of the pair can be used as an indicator of the fade rate. Since the 1458 is just a light source for the LDR you can build this and use it with a toy of any voltage. They do not need to be joined to the same power source and definitely should not unless the toy also uses a 9 volt power source.

This circuit is as easy to build as a 555 to drive a led, so I built both to show the different effect of each. In my sample circuit I have a switch to select either the 1458 or 555 (50% duty cycle) to drive the pair of leds. There is also a switch to select either the pot or 1458/555. The video begins with the pot. Next it goes through the 555 at different rates, and then the 1458 also at different rates. All of those are shorter sounds, and then it goes through longer sounds with each. Lastly it goes back and forth with one longer sound. Next to the flashing/fading led is the other led with the LDR in a piece of plastic tube wrapped with electrical tape to seal out outside light. The 555 is always harsh (fast or slow rate) being full on or off, and the 1458 can give a nice warble with its fade between on and off.

Similar to using a 555 for noise injection you can also do the same with the 1458, again so long as the toy uses a 9 volt power source. For noise injection use a wire coming off of pin 1, the same signal that goes to the transistor.

You may be asking can this circuit run on another voltage than 9 volts? It probably can, but would require figuring out what the new values of components would need to be. It is certainly something that can be experimented with.

You may also be asking can more or fewer leds be run with this circuit? If you want to add more you should add another transistor to power them. If you use a PNP (2n3906) the two sets of leds will alternate fading. Trying to fade a single led removes the usefulness of having a rate indicator. It also means experimenting to find the right led and resistor combination to get the full on and full off fade.

Hope that gives some ideas to you. Now you should go and try them out.

by Sailormouth