Hackaday Prize Entry: Ultimate Circuitbending

Circuit bending is the process of taking a small electronic toy or musical instrument, soldering wires to pads on the PCB, and hoping the sounds it produces will be cool. It’s not a science by any means, and any good, weird sounds you’ll get out of a Speak ‘N Spell or old MIDI keyboard are made entirely by accident or hours and hours of experimentation.

[Alpha Charlie]’s entry for the Hackaday Prize is the most technologically advanced circuit bending you’ll ever see. He’s using an old digital beat box, the Roland TR-626, with computer-controlled wires between random pads on the PCB.

Until now, you could tell how technically adept a circuit bender was simply by how many switches were on the circuit-bent instrument. [Alpha Charlie] doesn’t need switches. Instead, he’s using a few crosspoint switch ICs to connect different pins and pads on the TR-626’s PCB with an Arduino. All of this is controlled by a touchscreen display, and experimenting with the circuit is as simple as pushing a few buttons. Each ‘bend’ is computer controlled, and can be saved and recalled at will.

Of course, circuit bending doesn’t do anyone any good if it sounds like crap. [Alpha Charlie] doesn’t have to worry there. In the video below, he’s getting some very unique sounds that sound like a choir of angels to dorks like myself that listen to Nintendo music.

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Musical typewriter

We have often commented that we’re a bit tired of hearing random notes when someone sends us a musical project. We love home made instruments, circuit bending, and creative sound, we just like some intentional direction to the noise. This just might be an exception to the rule. This typewriter plays random notes as you type.  While it might annoy your cohabitants into a violent rage, it seems oddly cathartic. We have heard people talk about the pleasure of hearing the keys clack as they type. It just seems like you would get used to this and find it just as pleasurable. Maybe we’re crazy. Unfortunately, they don’t divulge any technical details, but we can imagine a simple way of wiring directly into a cheap keyboard to get the same effect.

The Prism: Laser Synth-Guitar

This is an interesting instrument. Part laser harp, part guitar, the Prism seems to have some potential. [Jeff-o] put some major time and effort into refinishing a guitar, building the circuit and putting it all together. He did a great job, the instrument looks fantastic and appears to work. We do have a request though; please post a video of it being played as an instrument. So many of these electronic instrument projects just spit out random noises. While we understand that some people are into that, we would love to hear some control. How about intentionally changing notes to make a melody? Based on the description, it should have control for pitch, and even speed of the oscillation. So let’s hear some music. We don’t care if you’re any good, just please play some music with it. If you would like to build your own, he has the schematics and PCB layout available for download.