Category Archives: Hardware

General Hardware

Visualist, an analog paintbox

Although I follow this website for a while, this is my first post. For this project I brought together a 3 channel LED light organ with a pal/ntsc video colourprocessor. The bass, mid and high of the sound is controlling the red,green and blue of the video. The image itself is highly reactive to sliders that cut the image to colorful slices. Magic, psychedelic…Art. The project shows a video of the box with effects and a PDF with all the “knowhow” over here:
Give it a try. It’s a nice DJ/VJ instrument.

Handmade Patchable MIDI Sequencer

by Mike Una

I made this simple MIDI sequencer using a HighlyLiquid MIDI CPU.

The sequencer circuit is the old classic “Baby 10” design, but you could save yourself some time and use the Getlofi Sequencer kit.

The nail-and-cliplead design was inspired by the work of Getlofi’s own Alex Deeba, aka Talking Computron.

In this video I’m using the sequencer to drive the MeeBlip digital synth (which I built from a kit), and it’s synched with some drums and basslines from Ableton Live by sending a clock signal to the sequencer via another HighlyLiquid kit, the MD24 MIDI Decoder.

Towards the Beat of a Different Drummer

So I’ve been performing and recording with this setup for a couple of years now.

It’s basically an acoustic drumset which is expanded through the addition of DIY and lo-fi electronics, as well as DIY acoustic and electroacoustic instruments, into an expressive tool for electroacoustic improvisation.

Here is a video of it in action:

Here are the instruments used:

More info/music/videos can be found on my webpage:

The Curmudgeon’s Corner #3 12.20.2010

By Hank The Curmudgeon

Greetings And Salutations! First off Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, Joyous Kwanzaa, Wacky Festivus and/or anything else you can celebrate. Oh, if I don’t get #4 out by the end of year Happy New Year! May you have a safe and wonderful holiday season. Here’s hoping you get that soldering station or capacitor assortment you’ve been dreaming about. Now onto this episodes insanity…

Selected Videos.
“Miniature” Microtonal Udderbot & Dulcimer Duet


Frank Giorgini’s Udu Utar Played by Brian Melick. Thanks to Gene Barth for finding this video!

#11 Math.

Your generic ubiquitous Switchcraft #11 1/4″ Open Frame Mono Jack…shopped around on 11/26/10.

But Hank, you whine, why didn’t you note the prices on eBay? Because the jacks may, or may not, be available, shipping can be outrageous, I don’t want to wait 2+ weeks for Taiwanese post, I’ve seen the plating flaking off due to corrosion, etc. That’s why I didn’t list eBay…but I’m not ruling eBay totally out.
If ANYONE knows of better prices for Switchcraft #11’s PLEASE contact me! *We have some Plastic Stereo jacks in

DIY Heavy Metal. Go explore the individual instruments at:

Ballet Mecanique At The National Gallery Of Art


Interesting background material:

Ooo Shiny…Hi-Tech Shiny. @ “Only” $12,843.77 each we’ll take a dozen!

Urban Planning Meets A Music Sequencer?
Thanks to Chicago Buck for finding this. There is some very interesting potential for teaching musical theory and composition to someone who has no music background or training.

Can One Really Bend “Star Wars”?
Or at least use it as a sample source? Yes!!! If anyone follows through with this I WANT TO KNOW ABOUT IT!

Virtual Breadboard.
Sadly NOT a dynamic circuit simulator but still a neat idea. Plus it’s great if you need a graphic illustration in your handouts for a class!

Extra Credit: What circuit do I have loaded in this example?

$1.2M Accordioning Brass Musical Watch. Even if I had $1.2 M to waste I’m not so sure a watch, this or any watch, would be on the shopping list…

Performance: Catherine Brisset On The Cristal Baschet And Gilles Dalbis On Percussion. What? You don’t own a Cristal Baschet!


Nicely Done 555/556 Time Page. Good clear explanations of our little friend Mr. 555 and what he is capable of.

Jumbo Otamatone: DIY Seed? First watch the video:

Now, ignoring the silly giant musical note form factor, this would be an easy DIY project coupling either a DIY ribbon controller or a COTS ribbon potentiometer such as with almost any VCO or APC circuit. Now the question becomes what goofy package can you house this in to make a bunch of money.

After You’re Done With That Holiday Brew…

Ax-Man is a DIY Circuit Bender’s Friend

Minneapolis, MN is a very accommodating city for electronic musicians and DIY enthusiasts. Not only is there a sprawling Experimental Electronic Music scene here, but it is also a home to the shopping mecca known as Ax-Man Surplus.

The eclectic main store of this Twin City chain is located on the University Ave in St. Paul and always has something for everyone. Creepy stage props, neon bright duct tape, military surplus, heavy duty switches, arcade buttons, jacks, cables, capacitors, resistors, screws, rotary telephones, speakers, zip ties, tools, shipping supplies, and even an Iron Lung are some of the items. All at reasonably low prices and in great selection.

However the main point I would like to make is this recent Vita.MN article on the Ax-Man stores. A very interesting piece that goes into the details of the store’s history and philosophy. It also explains the funny signs and who the creepy axed man really is. Good Read.

Ax-Man on Facebook.

kBang GameBoy Sequencer

Gameboy Solenoid Sequencer
Most often people want to take advantage of the sweet sweet LoFi onboard synth present in the Game Boy. However this time the tables have turned and the handheld system became an integral part of a physical computing apparatus.

GameBrain Gameboy Interface
Jowan of managed to interface the GameBrain cart with solenoids and play them via primitive sequencer software written in GBBasic for the GB. The project is called kBang and is worth checking out just to put a new spin on things. Thanks to Silas for sending this in.


Phil Archer devices

Water on Yamaha Circuit Bending
1 + 2

Printer Circuit Bent Modified
Going though my email I found a long ago correspondence with Phil Archer and a link to his website. His works have been shown in publications like the Nic Collins Hand Made Electronic Music Book and also as parts of Exhibitions. Some of his methods I find interesting. Like the prepared Printer, much like John Cages’ prepared Piano, an old Deskjet can be turned into a percussion instrument without any advanced programming. Simply by removing the steppers and attaching them to objects, then just send the document to print and listen. He also uses hand crank generators to power circuit bent devices mounted in varnished boxes, making it a very engaging experience for the participants. The most radical idea however is probably the water dripping onto an exposed Yamaha Synth circuit board. Nice sounds are produced and the devices apparently don’t fry for a while. Something to definatelly consider.

Deal of the Day-Arion Pedal Sales

Arion Delay

$19.99 or less for a limited time can get you any of these Arion pedals including Stereo Delay, Stereo Chorus, Stereo Phaser right now at Musicians Friend or Amazon. Plus is you use Paypal at MF the shipping is Free! Although there is some information on bending these pedals from what I gather the results are not spectacular. The SAD-3 however does not sound half bad on its own and it is based around an analog delay IC BBD MN3208. Certainly modding the BBD clock for slower speeds is not out of the question to extend the delay times, but any kind of a delay pedal usually makes even the simplest noisemaker sound good. Thanks to Chris for the info.

Noise to hear this weekend! Dec. 2006.

DSS Improv Chicago 2006 GetLoFi Circuit bent Noise

The DSS Improv Trio is playing in Chicago this weekend at the Elastro Electro/Acoustic Series. It features Phil Shearns the creator of Burlap Sack Sound Sculptures, the TI-99 Bending, and NES Video Bending. This time Phil is working on the Feedback and noises from Custom Electronics improvising for Aaron D. on FM Transmitter Feedback, Talkboy Deluxe, and Assorted Electronics with Cello and Viola by April Guthrie and Cassia Streb. The DSS Improv website hosts quite a few MP3s from previous events. However I am hoping that the future performances will be also posted. Those who go to enjoy, please post pictures/info for everybody else who can’t make it listen to the WLUW 88.7 web cast on Sunday.
Sample Live MP3 – CUT 01

Friday and Saturday the performance is happening at:
Friday December 1 – 4PM
Canterbury House
721 E. Huron Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Sunday December 3 – 10PM
WLUW 88.7 Independent Community Radio – Chicago
“Something Else” produced and hosted by Phillip von Zweck

* Please note that the above event can be tuned into by anyone on the Internet. Through the streaming link at 10PM Central.Monday December 4 – 9PM
with – Estesombelo and Abduction
Elastic – ELASTRO electro/acoustic series
2830 N. Milwaukee Ave, Chicago IL