As you can see, this instrument is essentially a bunch of doodads affixed to and through a cigar box. And as you’ll hear in the first video after the break, the various rubber bands make great drum sounds. The springs are nice, too, but our personal favorite has to be the head massager thing. Shhhing!
Inside the box you’ll find a guitar jack and some piezos glued to the underside of the top surface, but you’ll also find springs mounted across the inside that add to the resonance of the cigar box.
You can use either an interface and DAW or an effects pedal chain to really make things freaky, and [Paisley Computer] does a showdown between Focusrite interface versus various stomp pedals in the second video. In the third video, we learn how to make one of our own.
There’s more than one way to scare people on Halloween. Sure, there’s always the low-brow jump scare, but that will generally just annoy the person and possibly cause a heart attack. No, what you need is a sustained soundscape of hellish audio. And where does one find hellish audio? Well, you make your own with a spooky-sounds noise box.
And no, we’re not talking about a soundboard that goes ‘boo’ and ‘ooo-OOO-oooh’ and whatnot. This is a full-on DIY instrument that has potential beyond Halloween. Essentially, the wooden box takes input vibrations from various doodads, and these vibrations are picked up by a piezo disk or two glued to the underside of the lid. The piezos are wired up to a 3.5 mm jack, which runs out to the PC and [SvartalfarQc]’s favorite Digital Audio Workstation (DAW). From there, it’s just a matter of playing around with the sounds — looping them, running them through various instrument voices, adding effects, and so on.
We love the the things that [SvartalfarQc] came up with, including a wind-up walking heart thing, a retractable badge holder, and that noise box mainstay, a sproingy doorstop.
Sometimes, you just need an easy win, right? This is one of those projects. A couple months back, I was looking at my guitars and guitar accessories and thought, it is finally time to do something with the neck I’ve had lying around for years. In trying to decide a suitable body for the slapdash guitar I was about to build, I found myself at a tractor supply store for LEGO-related reasons. (Where else are you going to get a bunch of egg cartons without eating a bunch of eggs?) I noticed that they happened to also stock ammo boxes. Bam! It’s sturdy, it opens easily, and it’s (very) roughly guitar body shaped. I happily picked one up and started scheming on the way home.
Having never built a cigar box guitar before and being of a certain vintage, I’m inclined to turn to books instead of the Internet, so I stocked up from the library. Among my early choices was Making Poor Man’sGuitars by Shane Speal, who is widely considered to be the guru on the subject. In flipping through the book, I noticed the beer can microphone project and was immediately taken by the aesthetic of some cool old 70s beer can with a 1/4″ instrument jack on the bottom, just asking for some dirty blues to be belted into it. I had to build one. Or twelve.
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!
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.
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.
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?