Saturday, May 28, 2011

clara rockmore and the theremin

For a special Memorial Day treat, here's a video of the great Clara Rockmore playing the theremin with the delicate vibrato of an opera singer. Just saw the documentary about the theremin called Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey, which features Clara Rockmore, Bob Moog, Brian Wilson, and Léon Theremin himself. Amazing film about an amazing invention.

The theremin operates with heterodyne oscillators for both the frequency (pitch) and amplitude (volume) antennas, using L/C circuitry and grounded variable capacitance (your hand as the "ground") for changing the frequency and volume - much like "tuning" a radio or the electrical equivalent of a tuning fork. As you can imagine, DIY projects for the theremin are plentiful and varied with solar-powered optical theremins that are light-sensitive like this one by the artist Jan van Nuenen (check out his awesome animations, too!):

And back to my love for the arduino, check out this one with infrared sensors called the Squaremin by Nick Hardeman:

And finally, scans from Electronics Illustrated 1960 about the theremin available online thanks to the wonderful website SynthGear.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

learning from the pros

A quick look at a few living legends of custom preamp/mixers for your everyday sound system. There are a few features that seem to be included on all of these preamps: kill switches for treble, mid, bass, sub (or alternately, low mids), 10 band graph EQ, parametric equalizers for bass, mid, treble, etc.

Jah Tubbys Sound System (JTS):


Barracuda (retired since 2005/2006):

Jo Red:

Also on the Jo Red website are extremely helpful tips and schematics to building your own DIY preamp.

And if anyone ever finds a copy of this, let me know:

Sunday, May 15, 2011

diy rotary mixer

Looking to start a new DIY project inspired by vintage rotary mixers:

and new DIY ones:

More photos of this one by Igor here.

Helpful research links:

Urei 1620 manual w/schematics

ESP Mixer Project

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

google adk

Google just came out with a MAJOR game changer at the Google I/O 2011 streaming live on youtube right now. The Android Device Kit is Arduino-based hardware that will integrate with an Android, allowing creative freedom for hackers everywhere! Waiting for some choice videos to show the early capabilities of this technology. Here are a couple:

Props to Mike Dinerstein for hipping me to this!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

the technology of wah pedals

I've been trying to revive a dead EHX Q-Tron pedal back to life, and R.G. Keen's website GEO-fex on the history of effects pedals has been a tremendous resource for me. Check out the links to schematics and PCB layouts of legendary pedals and mods on the left side. There are also articles published by R.G. Keen breaking down different types of pedal effects that are a great read if you're at all interested in working on pedals. Check this one out about the wah pedal.