The Bent festival, which begins tonight in New York City, is a celebration of DIY musical instruments. Artists from all over converge to beep, blip, and strum for your pleasure. With a heavy emphasis on hacking your own instruments, this is definitely something we’re interested in. If you’ve only heard a little bit of circuit bending and didn’t like it, you may want to give it a try anyway. The musical genres are extremely diverse, it’s not all just random noise.
[David Crammer] must really like nightmares. The hurdy gurdy is a stringed musical instrument, dating as far back as the eleventh century A.D., where the strings are sounded via a rosined wheel that is turned with a crank. [Crammer] took this unique instrument, applied his circuit-bending and Furby-scalping skills to generate a Furby Gurdy that sound like Kraftwerk on acid.
The ThingamaKIT is an anthropomorphic analog synthesizer kit from Bleep Labs. Using “LEDacles”, photoresistors, knobs, and switches, it generates interesting high pitched vocalizations. Bleep Labs sent us a review unit and this article shares our experiences building and using the kit. We’ve also included a tutorial on making some hacks, modifications, and circuit bends to it. Skip to the end to see a video of our hacked kit in action.
GetLoFi has always been one of our first stops when looking for circuit bending fun. Their latest project is building this simple dub siren from a noise making key chain. Dub sirens or rasta boxes are a signature sound in dub reggae. The base of this project is an eight sound keychain. Each pad is wired to an eight position selector switch. The pitch resistor is replaced with a linear pot. One push button is used to replace the original eight and another is used for mute. Plug the 1/4inch jack into a delay pedal and you’re ready to rock. Check out the video below to see this particular box in use.
We can’t remember the last time a new cart or peripheral for the NES was released, but [Tony Amendolare] at ElektroKraft has just changed that. In conjunction with Nesdev.com, [Amendolare] created Super Synth Drums, a NES-compatible cartridge that turns button presses on the NES gamepad into drum sounds synthesized by the NES’s sound chips. To complement his software, he created the Sonic DrumAxe, a controller that looks a bit like a potato gun and is played like a guitar.
We coaxed our friends at Mahalo Daily into coming along with us to LA SIGGRAPH’s Maker Night. There were a handful of interesting projects there. [Univac] was showing a circuit bent Teletubby and his CellularRecombomat. [Brett Doar] brought his Bronco Table. Tired of engineers building items that made life easier, he decided to make something that made life more difficult. The table uses a piezo to detect the sound of something being set on top. It then starts twitching and bucking to shake the item free. The motors look like they’re salvaged window motors. Finally, we talked to [Mark Frauenfelder] from BoingBoing/Make about how he got into the DIY culture.