Virtual Theremin

[Mojo] has taken a lot of the complex circuitry out of the mix by creating a virtual Theremin. A Theremin is an electronic instrument, usually with two antennas, that senses the proximity of the player’s hands to the instrument and responds accordingly.

This design, called the AirDeck, uses a Wii remote as an IR sensor and two gloves with IR LEDs in them. Data from the Wii remote is processed by a custom Java app that converts it into sound. [Mojo's] interface also includes some alternative options such as a turn-table scratch interface.

In the end this is still just a synthesizer/midi controller and cannot stand up to the real thing. However if you’re not an accomplished player you’ll probably never notice the difference.

Theremin controlled Mario

In the video above, [conquerearth] is using a theremin to control Super Mario Bros. Moving his hand toward and away from the vertical antenna increases the theremin’s pitch. The computer monitors this in real time and moves Mario left and right. The loop antenna controls the theremin’s volume and acts as the jump button. The controls seem to work well, much better than the sound of one man flailing at a theremin.

[via Gizmodo]

False theremin


[vilxes91] sent in this cool little false-theremin (translated). Its a pretty simple circuit, that can fit in really small places. It isn’t a true theremen because it uses the amount of light coming in around the lid for the modulation. To play it, you turn it on and open it up, the more open the lid, the higher the pitch. You can see a video of it in action after the break.

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The Ondestrak

If you like the sound of the theramin, you may enjoy the Ondestrak.  Based loosely off of the Ondes Martnot, the Ondestrak works by changing the pitch of a continuous note. [Devin_mccutchen] built his using an old gametrak controller. The controller looks pretty cool. We hadn’t seen that one before. Check out a more musical performance after the break.

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Tiny optical theremins

Matrixsynth pointed out a couple incredibly small optical theremins that look like they’d make for a great afternoon project. [AlexArt] first built the simple circuit on a piece of protoboard (Google translated). Knowing he could go smaller, he then built it freeform with a buzzer instead of a full size speaker. The design is based around the common 555 chip and photoresistor. Here’s a simple circuit you can use to lay out your own. The optical theremin should not be confused with the traditional RF theremin since the name comes from the similar sound, not similar construction.

Tea cup theremin

Hardware modding can take you to some strange places: sometimes, you think of really useful improvements to your most practical devices. Other times, you turn a cup of tea into a theremin. This is true at least for [Kyle McDonald], who immersed the L/R leads of an 1/8″ cable in a cup of tea, and connected it to a computer running Max/MSP with a special patch. The result is a working, miniature theremin you can drink after you’re done playing. This process should work with any liquid, so feel free to use beer, cola, water, or anything you think will taste better after you’ve run a small charge through it.

[via Matrixsynth]

AirPiano: touch free IR piano

We were excited to learn of [Omer Yosha]‘s AirPiano, but being the persnickety nerds we are, we think its more like a theremin than a piano. The device lets users play 24 different notes with a wave of the hand over the AirPiano. The “keys” are arranged in a matrix of three tiers with eight notes per tier; if the user sustains his or her hand over the AirPiano, the corresponding note is sustained.

It’s construction is relatively simple: an Arduino, several infrared sensors, and LEDs corresponding to the notes make up the device. It doesn’t have any built-in audio hardware at all, so it’s most basic use is as a MIDI controller. Still, it is essentially an unspecified input device, so it could theoretically be used for other purposes. For us, it’s fun to just watch the AirPiano in action.