Remoticon Video: Making Microphones And Finding Sound

A yogurt lid and embroidery hoop are key components in building this microphone. It’s a super low tech, entry-level project to get into “found sound” and exactly what is needed to start hacking around in the audio world. This workshop presented by Helen Leigh and Robyn Hails shows you how to build a simple microphone and use it as the electronic gateway to all kinds of audio shenanigans.

Key to this build are the piezo element and an amp to process the signals it generates. All other materials are common around most households, but put them together as shown in this live hands-on seminar from the 2020 Hackaday Remoticon, and I think you’ll surprise yourself with how good the thing sounds!

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Cool Off With A Piezo And A Glass Of Water

Some cool-mist humidifiers work by flinging water at a vaporizer, but our favorite kind uses a piezoelectric transducer. These work by using high-frequency sound waves to pound the surface of the water with mechanical energy. That energy introduces standing waves that force the water to break apart into a fine mist on the surface of the piezo disk.

The driving circuit for this DIY mist maker uses a 555 to generate 113 KHz, a trimmer potentiometer to fine-tune it, and a MOSFET to amplify the signal. You don’t need much more than that and a handful of passives to recreate this cool junk box experiment, but the spec of the piezo disk is quite important. The circuit is designed for atomizing transducers, which have a resonant frequency of 113 KHz — much higher than your average junk box piezo. Check out the demo and build video after the break.

Atomizing transducers can do way more than than moisten the air for our comfort. They’re not picky about where the water comes from, so if you have enough of them, you can dry a load of laundry in a few minutes.

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Belt The Quarantine Blues Into A Homemade Mic

If there’s any psychological good to be gleaned from quarantine, it’s that people are using the time to finish old projects while starting plenty of new ones. If you’re running out of ideas, or just want to feel better by doing some in-house recycling, dump out that bin and make a simple microphone.

All you need is some PETE #1 plastic, a piezo disk, and the right kind of tin can. The plastic gets heat-fused to the rolled edge of the can, and since it gets stretched and shrunk in the process, it forms a tight membrane that doubles as a percussion instrument.

You do your shouting into the other end, and your sound waves vibrate the membrane. The piezo picks up the vibrations and sends them to a 1/4″ jack so you can plug it into an amp.

Even if you are somehow sidestepping the blues, you can always use this to yell at people who threaten to get too close to you. This fun project is about as open as it gets, but we’re sure that you can think of ways around using a piezo disk. Let us know in the comments after you check out [Ham-made]’s music video.

We like [Ham-made]’s method for cutting down the juice jug without cutting into yourself. Just clamp a razor blade into your vise and move jug against it. Reminds us of another way to easily reuse plastic soda bottles by making them into rope.

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Rubber Bands Can Secure Your Sanity

One of the greatest joys of being a child was figuring out that rubber bands make awesome sounds when they are plucked, and that the sound is easily changed by stretching the band to different lengths. For those of us who need firsthand experience to truly understand how the world works, these types of self-discovery are a pretty great way to learn about physics.

If you’re looking to build a physical music lesson or musical physics lesson into your burgeoning home school curriculum, look no further than the junk drawer, the broom closet, and the 3D printer. [Ham-made] used to stretch his bands across an empty tissue box, but came up with a much more professional implementation based on a broom handle. Check out this fat sound!

You don’t even need to find a spare broom handle, because none of this is permanent — the headstock piece with the hooks is meant to slide up and down to create cool sounds, and the tailpiece threads on in place of the broom bristles. Inside the tailpiece is a piezo disk and a 1/4″ jack so you can plug it in to your amp stack and start an impromptu jazz group. Just keep it under 10 people, okay?

You’ll need to mic your chanteuse, so keep the physics fun going with this plastic cup microphone.