Category Archives: New Products

New Products to aid benders

GetLoFi Patches


GetLoFi just added a White 4400 Embroidery Machine! This beauty became a reality after a lucky find at my local thrift store called Stuff, ETC. Normally these computer controlled robots can cost in upwards of several hundred dollars, this one was a fraction of the cost. The price obviously depends on features like hoop size, USB connectivity, torque power, etc.


The coolest part about this machine is the software that allows you to take any Bitmap graphic and turn it into a pattern that is ready for stitching. Colors can be added via a thread change during a programmed pause in a sequence. Thanks to this marvelous wonder the GetLoFi Shop now contains patches to cover up those soldering iron burn holes with style! If you have an idea or a design in mind feel free to comment.

*Update 9/17/09 *

Per suggestion here are some oscillator patches.


USB Soldering Iron now in the


The New USB Precision Soldering Irons have finally arrived in the Some may remember my previous attempt in making a USB soldering Iron from a battery powered Weller. Unlike that hack, this tool is professionally: made, packaged, tested, and comes with all the accessories needed to start soldering. Its been my dream to be able to work freely without dependence on a power outlet or a bulky extension cord, now this dream can be a reality for anyone with a laptop or a rechargeable USB battery pack.


With Surface mount components and miniaturization of electronics this soldering Iron is precise and small enough to do the job.


This new version now includes an On-Off switch and also a 9 Volt Battery Connector with a retractable USB cord. Certainly you DO NOT want to plug this cord into any standard USB devices because it will fry them! By contrast this soldering iron is safe to operate from any standard USB port thanks to its advanced on-board electronics. A built-in white LED also helps when working in dark conditions. Heat-up times are extremely fast compared to a standard soldering iron and the power consumption from the USB port is minimal.


The USB Soldering Iron is now on sale from the for only $25.00 including free First Class USPS shipping.

GetLoFi Fuzz Kit

fuzz__finished.JPGThe GetLoFi Fuzz Kit is now available in the for only $26 including free WorldWide shipping! The circuit is a clone of the classic Fuzz Face transistor circuit from the Internet with a few major LoFi treatments. A voltage Starve has been integrated into the circuit to change the tonality of the sound, Input and Output capacitors can be Bypassed via switches and also the amount of transistor Feedback can be controlled via a potentiometer. All this in a very simple to build great sounding distortion that turns your guitar, keyboard, or drums into stream of square waves and interesting noise artifacts almost like a digital pixelating effect. Some settings will give you very crunchy 8bit sustain and others can filter the signal into clicks and pops. With the right settings however it can sound like a Boutique distortion worthy of the most picky guitar players.The kit comes with everything needed to assemble this beauty in less than an hour including and schematic and drilling template on the printed insert. Build step by step instructions with pictures are also provided on GetLoFi. The case as always is your choice, anything pulled out of the trash, bought at a thrift, or repurposed is nice. An alarm clock for one of the builds and it turned out fantastic. As always no schematic is posted, however feel free to figure out the circuit board if you wish.

fuzz_files_alarm.JPGPlease know that when buying kits from GetLoFi you will receive the best deals on parts, great instructions, email support, ultra-fast shipping, and none of the typical headaches. Consider that before trying to source everything yourself and paying through the roof for onesie twosie project components. Not to mention the fact that right now YOU are solely supporting the R&D of future GetLoFi products and helping to clothe, feed, and shelter me. 🙂 Its true, we are now dedicated full-time to experimental electronic efforts and blogging.

fuzz_box_drilled.JPG GetLoFi Shop now also offers $8 pre-drilled aesthetically pleasing one-off tin cases for your projects, starting with the Fuzz Kit; little suitcases, hearts, lunch boxes, etc.

fuzz_box_populated.JPG Thanks!

Short Video Sample:


GetLoFi Doomsday Kit in the MakerShed


Thanks to the amazing help from the Make: Magazine crew the GetLoFi Doomsday Sound Device Kit is now for sale in the MakerShed. The kit is a surplus sound generator circuit neatly put together in a static bag with an output jack, wire, upholstery nails, a switch. Perhaps the most valuable part of the kit is the instruction set illustrated by Patrick of Roth Mobot detailing various points on the circuit board that alter sound parameters. More information on the kit here.




New Bottle-Cap Contact Microphones

by Austin

The first batch of 30 Creme DeMentia Bottle-Cap Contact Microphones from sold out within a few weeks, thank you to everyone for their orders!  I have just finished a second batch of over 90, and 10% of them have already sold! Just like before, they are available singly for $15 or in six-packs for $65 from  Some of the new designs are one-of-a-kind and have already sold out, but I may make more of the same designs in the future, especially since some of them do look very nice.  Please have a look:

Creme DeMentia BCM’s Batch 2 Blue

Creme DeMentia BCMs Batch 2 Green

*Smirnoff Eagle has sold out

Creme DeMentia BCM Batch 2 Metallic

*Gold Bird has sold out

Creme DeMentia BCMs Batch 2 Metallic

*Pink Champagne and Smirnoff Eagle have Sold Out

Creme DeMentia BCMs Batch 2 Red & Black

Creme DeMentia BCMs Batch 2 Red and Blue

*Pabst and Heineken are Sold Out

Creme DeMentia BCMs Batch 2 Red & Gold

Creme DeMentia BCMs Batch 2 Red & Green

*Heineken is Sold Out

Creme DeMentia BCMs Batch 2 Yellow & Red

*Destapa y Gana is Sold Out

Creme DeMentia BCMs Batch 2 Yellow & Black

Thanks for looking

Introducing Creme DeMentia Bottle-Cap Contact Microphones from GetLoFi

Creme Dementia Bottle Cap Contact Mics

by Austin

My first exposure to contact microphones was when I first wanted to amplify my autoharp. I found a contact mic from a local guitar store and used it for a while. I use a magnetic autoharp pick-up now, because I found the contact microphone amplified the noise of the bar chords being pressed and the loud clack of my belt buckle against the body of the autoharp. The contact microphone did work to amplify the vibrations within my autoharp, however, and I used that pick-up for many months.

What I now understand is that though contact microphones can loudly amplify some unwanted sounds and may not be ideal for some instruments, they can unlock and amplify the hidden sounds within everyday objects; they are a dousing rod for unearthing an entire world of new sounds and instruments. At Bent Fest 2007 I got to see Tim Kaiser perform for the first time. He proved to me and the rest of the audience the vast sound potential within a contact microphone, some hand-selected/-crafted objects, and lots of delay. He and Logan Erickson also hosted a workshop at Bent Fest 2007 on using contact microphones. The big lessons I took away were “listen with a stethoscope to find good placement” and “make good, solid physical contact with the device and the contact microphone.”

So, what goes into a contact microphone? A contact microphone can be made out of just about any piezoelectric disc, which is a brass disc with a smaller wafer of crystal soldered directly to one side. When the crystal vibrates, it releases an electric current. The crystal translates vibrations from objects it touches into electric currents, which travel through wires to your amplifier. It is similar to the way a regular microphone works; a paper cone vibrates a magnetic coil, which in turn creates a electric current. Piezo-electric discs, however, sense vibrations directly from the object itself, not the air the object is vibrating. This allows them to amplify minute vibrations from within tiny objects that we would otherwise not be able to hear well through the air. Piezo discs can also serve other functions as well, such as velocity sensitive drum triggers and drivers that will physically vibrate objects.

There is a wonderful, in-depth chapter on piezoelectric discs in Nicholas Collins’ book Hand Made Electronic Music. This book is a must-read. In it, he details how to make contact microphones. He recommends soldering a piezo-disc directly to a shielded audio cable, then dipping it in Plasti-Dip. My friend Mike Taylor (or Mic Tailor, if you will) and I made a couple of contact microphones this way, in 2006, using broken audio cables I had found at a thrift store and some piezo-discs from American Science and Surplus. Mike and Matt Dotson used several of them to put on a performance of John Cage’s “Cartridge Music” at a John Cage symposium here at NIU, using them in place of phonograph cartridges. Phonograph cartridges predate piezo-discs but essentially do the same job, amplifying tiny vibrations. The mics we made were decent, but not great. The discs were very thin and relatively small in diameter; even with a couple of coats of Plasti-Dip, I still ended up snapping the crystal wafers on some, thereby ruining both the mics AND several long, shielded cables. In a second attempt, I did better, but not best – I filled a bottle cap with hot-glue, placed the piezo-disc in the glue, and dipped the entire assembly. They ended up looking something like chocolate covered Oreos on the end of a guitar cable. I solved the durability issue, but the hot-glue filling the cap slightly dulled the piezo-disc’s sensitivity.

Now, back to Bent Fest 2007, the first time I met Nick Pelzwik. Nick had a display with a circuit-bent wobble television and some circuit-bent Barbie Karaoke delays. At Circuitastrophe 2008, I saw Nick again, and this time he was armed with a ton of delightful contact mics. Nick’s solution was simple, but ingenious: A Plasti-Dipped piezo disc soldered to a 1/4″ jack inside a protective cap via some short wire leads. They look and sound very good. Nick performed at Circuitastrophe using them on a trumpet, toy piano, his own throat, and other objects to produce a very rich soundscape. Nick makes and sells these on eBay, I might add.

Nick shared with me his source for good quality piezo-discs, so I ordered a bunch in the hopes of trying to improve my initial design. I found that these discs were wider in diameter, coincidentally the same diameter as beer bottle caps. The discs that I had used before were smaller in diameter than the bottle caps, causing me to pool the hot glue into the caps. Now the discs rest only atop a ring of hot glue on the crimped circumference of the bottle cap. This allows the discs to vibrate more freely than before while still remaining somewhat protected from breakage by the bottle caps. Instead of soldering directly to a shielded audio cable as I did before, I soldered to a short length of wire which connects to a 1/4″ jack housed inside two facing 2-liter bottle caps zip-tied and hot-glued together. So, the result is a solid, protective housing for the piezo disc and jack, made from mostly recycled materials, definitely following the re-use mentality of circuit-bending. The beer cap allows you to hold the piezo-disc firmly and directly to objects like a stethoscope without finger noise and to even use it like a guitar pick without the worry of snapping the crystal. I’m also happy with the two 2-liter cap solution for housing a 1/4″ jack; they are pretty solid once attached with zip ties and hot glue and very colorful.

Single Creme DeMentia Bottle-Cap Contact Microphone

Six-Pack of Creme DeMentia Bottle-Cap Microphones

I have made about 30 of these for starters and they are available at the GetLoFi store for $15 apiece or $65 for a six-pack, shipping included. And now, here they are in action:

[youtube][/youtube](Note: In the video the magnetic autoharp pickup is not being used, a Bottle-Cap Contact Microphone is clamped to the autoharp.)

Get yours today!

More Information!

Atari Punk Console 2.0 Kit from GetLoFi

Atari Punk Console

The Stepped Tone Generator circuit by Forrest M Mims III has been around for ages. Recently the same circuit was rediscovered and reborn catching the attention of the Internet as the Atari Punk Console for its coarse and crunchy tones. When it became apparent that the demand for this sound was still great it was decided that offering a Kit is not such a bad idea. The original schematic and PCB transfer drawn up by Matthew Helm seemed like a good place to start, however it is riddled with needless complexity and was not something one could wrap their head around easily. Plus it was not taking the advantage of superior PCB mounting capabilities. Behold the Atari Punk Console (APC) 2.0! Redesigned entirely from scratch and based on the original schematic from the Radio Shack Book. The APC 2.0 is designed so that its components solder directly to the matching traces on the printed side of the board. It is quick and easy to put together even for a novice.

There are three major differences between the APC 2.0 and previous designs. First is that it is missing the volume knob. The volume knob seemed superfluous since the APC will typically be run through mixer. The second change was replacing the power switch with a trigger button to allow for short bursts of tone when it is pressed down. This change also saves the battery when not in use. The last improvement was the addition of a Capacitor Bank, which can be filled with various values of caps and switched on by connecting them to Ground through a second set of buttons. This allows for different tones based on how the buttons are pressed. Much time was spent documenting the assembly process so that anybody without prior experience can put this fun noise maker together. Everything you need is for sale in a Kit form at a low price of $22 ( Includes International Shipping ) and can be purchased through the Page.

Those who prefer to source their own parts feel free to order the PCBs À la carte, 5 Boards for $20 Shipped. The mask file for the board will not be published, however it is not rocket science to figure it out from the pictures if you choose to spend time doing that.

For me personally the best part about the APC 2.0 is not necessarily the sounds that it produces, but rather the variety of cases that could be used for housing the APC 2.0. Discarded objects destined for the landfill can be repurposed into musical instruments, from salad bowls to VHS tape cases, the sky is the limit.

Listen to the APC 2.0 Sound Sample here.

Original APC GetLoFi post here.

Color Changing LEDs at Target



This Xmas season your local Target may have the hookup for some very nice LED products, most of which can be parted and reused for cool illumination of your DIY Synth projects or as Decor to warm up those cold Winter Circuit Bending shows. The flickering candle features a pattern circuit that can be used to drive a photoresistor as a Vactrol providing some randomness in your life, especially when more than one are used.

Color Changing Tea Lights.

Flickering LED Tea Lights.

The later LED color changing set is an in Store only special. The fades are smooth color cycles and at $0.50 an LED its a great deal, most likelly to get even better once all the Holiday stuff goes on sale.



Listening to the Flickering LED Tea Light is possible as suggested in the comments, but flickering does have a repeating pattern. Combining several circuits together would certainly create a fairly random overlay due to drifting and slight voltage differences between circuits. The same company also makes a more expensive 3 LED candle that has a non-repeating pattern generated with a microcontroller randomly.

Intriguing Digital Recording Sound Lab Kits

Digital Sound Lab


With X-Mas looming here are a couple of identical, yet differently labeled, gifts that will surely trip the trigger of an aspiring experimental sound artist. Not much for the actual description of circuits aside from 30 different variations possible. These Labs are incredibly reminiscent of the Radio Shack’s X-in-1 spring loaded experimental kits.

The board appears to have resistors, capacitors, a potentiometer, record/playback buttons, microphone, speaker, a set of transistors, and the main recording chip with connections broken out. My guess is that the bread and butter of this circuit is changing the pitch of the recording and various triggering options. Surely this will be fun for a few hours.

Discovery Digital Sound Lab $39.95

GeoSafari Digital Recording Lab $37.49

Power Tour Guitar and Amp on Clearance



The Hasbro Power Tour Guitar appears to be on sale for an unbelievable price of $13.98, that’s down from $70 original retail, at my local Target store. Online it appears as sold out, however the shelves were brimming with this awesome instrument. The Power Tour Amp was also on sale for $10.38, perfect for workbench or portable entertainment.

The Guitar itself is a fairly amazing instrument, it features light up touch sensitive frets and strum area. Powered by a microcontroller with crystal oscillator these can be pitched down using a 555 timer circuit. There are about 8 different guitar sounds to choose from and even unmodified its hours of fun. Sounds are stored on a Flash board with lots of posibilities for glitching, however it does tend to crash fairly often.

Recently I modified one of these for a friend by adding a pitch control and a built-in Yada Yada Yada Sampler, the photos will be up shortly. Good luck.