Stanley Ruiz posts all kinds of neat stuff to his Skonto blog and at the Bent 2006 festival he got to perform with his band Ganung Sari. His new piece that caught my attention was the “Glitch Machine“. A wall mounted gallery piece with a Radio Shack melody player that can often be found in the clearance bin of your local store. The circuit is a playback module with transistor looking melody banks. The button shorts a couple of resistors creating a voltage drop to garble and lower the Twinkle Twinkle Little Star melody. The text on the battery case gives a definition of what a glitch is from wikipedia.org and its a good introduction for anyone who has never experienced glitching or circuit bending before. Another really good introduction to circuit bending can be seen and heard in Stan’s video interview for NYC24.org, enjoy.
Over the past few weeks I’ve been tinkering with PIC Microcontroller programming and hardware development ( ie: Stringing things together with clip leads DIY style ) .The result of the initial trials turned out quite nicely. Based on a simple premise of taking a toy with a pitch resistor and varying the value of that resistor sequentially. This creates note strings and also at higher tempo frequencies more modulated sounds. Unfortunatelyy PIC 16F627 does not have a DAC that would output specific voltages, but it does have plenty of PINs that can be turned OFF and ON, the easy way to create some cascading variations is to use something called a resistor network and in this case I took advantage of parallel resistor properties while keeping things isolated with a 4066 quad switch IC for building the resistor ladder. When all the switches are ON the resistance is least compared to when all of them are OFF. This coupled in parallel with a 1Meg Pot provides for some nice variations. The sequencer program running on the PIC has 16 steps and each resistor has its own channel of ONs and OFFs that can be “Muted” if needed. The controller has only4 buttons and 4 LEDs, however many buttons are overloaded with functions so different combinations do various things like speed up and slow down the tempo, randomize patterns, randomize step lengths to create “Swings”, and also edit patterns in a special mode. As a bonus MIDI out port sends out the 4 note patterns than be mapped to Samples, Drums, or Synth sounds. All that functionality really maxed out the massive 1K of Program space, granted the code is not the greatest and was written in PICClite, but the DSI keyboard turned out quite nicely and is lots of fun to play around with. There is also new blog which will have more tips and tricks of the MIDI and PIC programming located at PIC4MIDI.blogspot.com, contributors will include myself and Electrokraft. A schematic of my circuit is posted as a general idea. Actual circuit is a little different, but if anyone has suggestions please let me know.
Video of the keyboard in action as well as some prototype photos are available.
Cappy has notified me of an update to his site SailorMouth.org. This update consists of several pages dealing with various oscillators. There are also tips and tricks on how these circuits can be used in circuit bending or modifying toys. 555 timers, logic gates, and crystals are covered in some detail with diagrams and descriptions.
At some point just about every bender has gone through the initial steps of creating a simple yet effective pitch based modification on a common toy. I would like for everyone to stop and take a moment to reflect on their early projects and how much fun it was to discover those bends. After that moment feel free to browse some neat creations at the Manitou’s Lair. Including this Morphotron I.
Tom Green recently posted this novel recasing project of the Franklin the Turtle Numbers game to the Bender list. Great job on the knobs and the wooden case. Wiring inside is not too shabby either, zip ties and all. Surprisingly interesting sounds are also achieved from such a simple toy. The seemingly haphazardly placement of knobs, switches, and buttons works well in this case. Very nice job Tom.