Back in the ’70s and ’80s, before we had computers that could do this sort of thing, there were fully analog video effects. These effects could posterize or invert the colors of a video signal, but for the best example of what these machines could do just go find some old music videos from Top of The Pops or Beat Club. Stuff gets weird, man. Unfortunately, all those analog broadcasting studios ended up in storage a few years ago, so if you want some sweet analog effects, you’re going to have to build your own. That’s exactly what [Julien]’s Video Mangler does. It rips up NTSC and PAL signals, does some weird crazy effects, and spits it right back out.
The inspiration for this build comes from an old ’80s magazine project called the ‘video palette’ that had a few circuits that blurred the image, turned everything negative, and could, if you were clever enough, become the basis for a chroma key. You can have a lot of fun when you split a video signal into its component parts, but for more lo-finess [Julien] is adding a microcontroller and a 12-bit DAC to generate signals that can be mixed in with the video signals. Yes, all of this can still be made now, even though analog TV died a decade ago.
The current status of this project is a big ‘ol board with lots of obscure chips, and as with everything that can be described as circuit bending, there’s going to be a big panel with lots of dials and switches, probably stuffed into a laser-cut enclosure. There’s a mic input for blurring the TV with audio, and enough video effects to make any grizzled broadcast engineer happy.
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.