The polyplasmic archophone

The polyplasmic archophone is a fresh approach to high voltage “arc music“. They are using  an Arduino clone to convert signals for the ignition coils. It is still unfinished, but the effect is decent. In the end it will have 2 tiers of voice coils for a total of 13. They are using different materials for the antenna so they can get different colors of sparks. You can see a video of it after the break and we must say the effect is quite nice. Change the lighting on that video and we could imagine this being the set to a [Joules Verne] movie.

[via Makezine]

Comments

  1. Jake says:

    This can’t even hold a candle to those tesla coil ‘speakers’. Those things are freaking AWESOME!

  2. bilbao bob says:

    Gosh – that’s fresh.
    This month.

    Circa 1950’s much hoopla was made over gas flame speakers that were basically plasma modulation using WW2 tube technology. A more modern implementation is shown here:

    Also, You don’t need multiple coils to get polyphony:

    Wanna build one? Search for 555 and flyback.
    Then whip out your arduino and PWM the output of the 555. Two things:

    1. These suck at BASS. So for a full-on cataclysmic sound machine, buy some earth shakers (big mag coil with audio in designed to rumble theatres) and add some bass.

    2. Don’t touch the arc. It’s like ghost busters. I have a small custom tattoo courtesy of high frequency modulated HV, and it just reached out 12 inches and “modified me” by what seemed to me to be remote excavation of bare skin. I wasn’t being careful enough.

    But the biggest problem is that you can touch this stuff and say “hey, it tickles!”… not realizing that the muscles and nerves underneath the skin are being prepped for destruction. It can take a long time to notice the damage.

    On that note:
    500KV makes for some serious arc lengths. Check this out – it’s a giant mechanical switch. Notice how long it takes for the switch to open the circuit!

  3. Jack Sprat says:

    Tocatta und Fugue, but it’s difficult to hear the frequency difference between notes.

  4. Andrew says:

    “They polyplasmic archophone”

    ” In th end ”

    Alright gentlemen, it is time to at the very least start using spellcheck, if not hire a copy editor. The rash of bad typos and grammar is getting ridiculous.

  5. biozz says:

    i used to do this with 555 driven flybacks … just put music in to pin 5!

  6. VEC7OR says:

    The face @ 10 sec is pure-mad-scientist.

  7. snowdruid says:

    joules verne REALLY? thats not one but 2 dead guys turning in their graves…

  8. M4CGYV3R says:

    He should move the notes up an octave or two. This thing is balls at any sort of low-end notes.

  9. Nathan Zadoks says:

    @snowdruid It’s a (bad) pun..

  10. svofski says:

    How about putting this in a horn to make it actually produce sound instead of this crickety noise? Come on, even two sheets of plywood can make a difference.

  11. snowdruid says:

    i got that and believe me im not usualy a troll but this really is a bad pun and althoung the project is kinda nice it’s still very old news. taking something wich has been around for years and “multiplying” it dosnt make it new sorry but i come to expect better things from HaD

  12. Whatnot says:

    “this isn’t new”
    “but does it play crysis”
    “that’s what she said”

    Guess what else is not new..

  13. jeditalian says:

    the name is cool, but it sounds like a bunch of ignition coils or something. i want to build a full range plasma soundsystem: plasma tweeters, then wider sparkgaps for deeper bass, the largest being comparable to football goals, but not 100 yds apart. but idk how because i can’t even embed a video like billy bob up there: attempt1
    http://www.youtube.com/v/OdaBE5Ef5f0?fs=1&hl=en_US

  14. jeditalian says:
  15. HAROLDKUMARI says:

    Gosh – that’s fresh.

    This month.
    Circa 1950′s much hoopla was made over gas flame speakers that were basically plasma modulation using WW2 tube technology. A more modern implementation is shown here:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rasp88nbsRw
    Also, You don’t need multiple coils to get polyphony:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UGD64MjRTfA
    Wanna build one? Search for 555 and flyback.
    Then whip out your arduino and PWM the output of the 555. Two things:
    1. These suck at BASS. So for a full-on cataclysmic sound machine, buy some earth shakers (big mag coil with audio in designed to rumble theatres) and add some bass.

    2. Don’t touch the arc. It’s like ghost busters. I have a small custom tattoo courtesy of high frequency modulated HV, and it just reached out 12 inches and “modified me” by what seemed to me to be remote excavation of bare skin. I wasn’t being careful enough.
    But the biggest problem is that you can touch this stuff and say “hey, it tickles!”… not realizing that the muscles and nerves underneath the skin are being prepped for destruction. It can take a long time to notice the damage.
    On that note:
    500KV makes for some serious arc lengths. Check this out – it’s a giant mechanical switch. Notice how long it takes for the switch to open the circuit!

    http://www.youtube.com/v/PXiOQCRiSp0&rel=1&fs=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1

    Posted at 7:42 am on Oct 16th, 2010 by bilbao bob

  16. Andrew says:

    This guy looks like iron man!

  17. jedialian says:

    i wish you could delete your own comments. anyway, that thing is cool.

  18. jeditalian says:

    and that guy looks like Tony Stark

  19. MChammer says:

    He is the spitting image of Nicola Tesla, too…..

  20. zool says:

    yeah should have played it up an octave or so

    you end up hearing this same frequency for the lower notes

  21. strider_mt2k says:

    I smell ozone…

  22. lejupp says:

    @snowdruid: You do realise that HaD does not actually make these projects, right?

  23. Addidis says:

    Those mechanical switch utube videos are incredible I want to see one in person, from very very far away.
    This guys organ is wicked cool. I would probably pay him to sit on my porch and play some Transylvania music on Halloween ;)

  24. snowdruid says:

    @lejupp sure i know they dont make the projects but they decide which project to feature on HaD.therefore its there job to sort out all the crap that gets send in. but i really dont see the relevance here.

  25. Garbz says:

    @bilbao bob that’s not 500kV switching generating the arc. Those switches are designed to quickly open 550kV in normal circumstances and extinguish the arc in less than a second.

    In this case they were there debugging why they were having such problems with this switch. Turns that changes in the design downstream caused a huge massive inductive load on the switch. Summary, there’s a shitload more than 500kV attempting to sustain that arc.

  26. Hirudinea says:

    MORE POWER IGOR, I NEED MORE POWER!! Anyway it looks like he’s using a synth as the keyboard so he should just use its output at a low audio level to agument the sound.

  27. Littleleeroy says:

    GO Western Australia, (and J.S Bach)

  28. Tachikoma says:

    The dude looks more like Tesla:

    :D

  29. vonskippy says:

    @strider_mt2k

    Sry, that was me, I had TacoWhammy for lunch and it…well you know.

  30. tenbohlen says:

    @Garbz, @bilbao:
    The switch seen in that video is not intended to be opened while under load. The actual switching is done with high voltage circuit breakers. There’s also an arc when the switch is opened, but it’s enclosed and there’s a system in place to actively extinguish the arc.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circuit_breaker#High-voltage_circuit_breakers

    What’s seen in the video is a HV disconnecter, they are normally used to open the circuit after it’s been opened with the circuit breaker to prepare for work on the circuit, because it allows the workers to see that it’s cut (you can’t see the “status” of the circuit breaker).

    You’re right, though, the testing’s done with a heavy inductive load.

  31. I would recomend dumping the automotive coils and using motorcycle coils as they have much better audio response due to them being packed much tighter.
    I built an audio modulated arc come time back with the intention of creating a set of headphones but have not had the time to do any further work on them

    http://evilgenius.net.nz/arc-o-phone/

  32. svofski says:

    People whining that this is not new must shut the %$* up and go and make something new instead.

    Here’s what I mean by my previous comment:

    The simple piece of pipe by one side of the emitter makes it sound louder and with a lot more substance. Putting the arc in the focus of a horn (think grammophone) will make it sound great.

  33. dalton says:

    its like broken piezo just pure fail that ppl make things like this

  34. Justin says:

    Looks cool. However, the electrode material doesn’t affect the color of the plasma. That’s determined by the gas that’s being ionized. Unless a bulb is placed around the plasma to contain a gas other than air, you’re stuck with the purplish color of ~70% nitrogen. Plus, the bulb probably wouldn’t do much to improve the sound quality.

  35. bilbao bob says:

    @tenbohlen

    HV disconnecter – switch…
    Sorry, my terminology is suffering from a combination of ignorance and fundamental tendency to simplify technical terms. HV is not my thing, and apart from various plasma toys and what George Clinton might describe as a funk gun, I just don’t know the lingo. My apologies.

    @everyone else
    “a huge massive inductive load on the switch”…
    anybody else wondered where the numbers go when you dump a big inductor with a megavolt or so?
    If only we had a flux capacitor… that would probably snub those unruly dv/dt excursions.

  36. Some responses to various people:

    * We are definitely seeing different coloured plasma depending on the type of metal and amount of surface oxidation of the antenna. Not a huge change, but it’s there.

    * Since this video, we’ve increased the duty cycle for higher tones to allow the caps more time to charge.

    * Bass response – definitely going to be mic’ing it up and running it through harmonic reinforcers, adding layered synths etc. It responds to MIDI, so often we’ll be driving it from sequencing software.

    * Performance – Although the sound it self is tinny, the visual spectacle is almost more important. We are building a “period” surround + mounting framework for that early 30’s “Arc-Deco” (hoho) crossed with Verne / Captain Nemo look. We will also be adding different voice allocation algorithms that can be changed during a performance to add high voltage Buzzby Berkley (hoho again) arc choreography.

  37. Sorry, incomplete bullet point:

    * Since this video, we’ve increased the duty cycle for higher tones to allow the caps more time to charge. This has allowed us to go up another 1.5 octaves, and we get beautiful continuous streams of plasma now.

  38. bilbao bob says:

    “Buzzby Berkley (hoho again) arc choreography”

    Several points for the puns, fifty points for style, but really, without the ability to persuade naive (but manipulative) show girls to come home with you, should you follow this metaphor? I can see the mad scientist of vienna thing you have going, which is great, but you’ll get more chicks with a thumping bass line.

    Therefore, you need a giant spinning wheel [well, you know, bigger than 12 inches, anyway] or two to provide that beat. And… while I hate to be a safety N…nerd, you may want to consider wearing UV protective glasses if you have a career in performance art ahead.

    Arc discharge creates a lot of UV, and it’s tough on retinas. You may not care now, but the damage is cumulative. At least find some late 19th century style tinted glasses to wear, or plastic lenses.

  39. walt says:

    bilbao bob doesn’t know what polyphony means.

  40. bilbao bob says:

    @walt
    Polyphony has nothing to do with # of output channels. Polyphony is only a function of how we hear, and not how many output channels we use to create complex sounds with. Unless you mean the old definition of contrapoint in musical themes.

    Ever listened to Bach on an old mono radio or TV? That’s still polyphony, by any definition, even if it is projected through a single output channel.

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