Spiffy Summer Project Sources Solar Sounds From Scraps

[Gijs Gieskes] has a long history of producing electronic art and sound contraptions, and his Zonneliedjes (sunsongs) project is certainly an entertaining perpetuation of his sonic creations. With the stated goal of making music from sunlight, the sunsongs most prominent feature is solar panels.

Although It’s not clear how the photons transform into the rhythmic crashes and random beep-boop sounds, the results are quite satisfying. We have a strong suspicion that the same principals that turn random junk into BEAM robots are at work, maybe with some circuit bending sprinkled on for good measure. One detail we were able to glean from a picture of the device he calls “mobile” was a 40106 oscillator, which [Gijs] has used in previous projects.

The construction style that [Gijs] uses reminds us of the “Manhattan” construction style the amateur radio homebrewing community favors. Squares of copper PCB are glued directly to the back of the solar cells and the circuits are built atop them. Looking carefully at the pictures we can also see what look like cutoff leads, suggesting a healthy amount of experimentation to get the desired results, which we can all relate to.

Be sure to check out the video after the break, and also [Gijs] website. He’s been hacking away at projects such as these for a very long time, and we’ve even featured his projects going back more than 15 years. Thanks for the continued hacks, [Gijs]. We look forward to seeing what you come up with next!

If the terms “BEAM robotics” and “circuit bending” are unfamiliar to your ears (or if a refresh is due), be sure to check out our recent re-introduction to BEAM robotics and our classic “Intro to Circuit Bending” to get acquainted.

8 thoughts on “Spiffy Summer Project Sources Solar Sounds From Scraps

    1. No mystery.


      Make twenty recordings of various tones in a B flat chord. Each recording is a different length.
      Load each recording into its own solar powered playback box.
      Each box contains a microprocessor with a simple program to play the recording, an amplifier, and a speaker.

      The notes all start at different times because of the solar power. Since they are all different lengths, they never all start or stop at the same time. Since they are all part of one chord, they all sound good together in all combinations. Since they are not very loud, you only hear the ones close by. Moving around the area changes the combination of speakers that you can hear.

    2. No mystery.


      Each box contains a small playback device, a speaker, a solar panel, and an amplifier.

      Each box contains a recording of a tone from the B flat chord

      Each recording is a different length.

      The boxes start up as soon as they get enough light, so they never start at exactly the same time.

      The result is twenty boxes playing various harmonious tones at semi-random times.

      Since you can never hear all of the boxes at once, just walking around the area will change the sound you hear,

      The harmony comes from recording tones from one chord, the timing from the different lengths of the recording and the time each box began getting enough light to run.

      Pretty cool, but not mysterious.

      1. Interesting, I can’t find the video right know but I remember the artist opening a sunbox and showing briefly the PCB inside and there was just a somewhat empty PCB with a big DIP chip in the middle, akin to an Atmega, thus why I thought it was only a MCU that drove a sample speed (or generate it altogether).

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