Circuit bending an old crappy Radio Shack pedal

I picked this up at a yard sale thinking it was maybe an actual reverb pedal, but when I tried it at home it was just a very short delay pedal, which I already had. So it sat on my shelf for a bit before I remembered that I have the tools to alter electronics, sometimes for the better.

The first step was to desolder the sliders on the board and replace them with pots. I also sacrificed the battery bay (because 6 AAs??). Then I had plenty of room for knobs and switches.

Bending this was pretty straight forward, in that if I found a bend I’d usually incorporate it. Bends on somewhat simple hardware have a way of interacting that’s impossible to discover without soldering.

Here’s the plate once I drilled (too many) holes:

And here’s the board once I soldered it:

Designing the face plate on a computer and gluing the printout to the metal was a first for me. In retrospect, since there are many ways bends interact, I’d make the face plate without labels to make it a little more exploratory and experiential. I’d also use thicker paper.

The original sliders live on as the bottom row of knobs. I found two distortions and an actual reverb (two other kinds of pedals!!) as well as a couple sometimes-useless others. Have a listen! (The initial sound is the dry signal.)

{ Add a Comment }

Great little article about the ineffectiveness of fighting systems of power (in this case climate change) with consumer choices.

“Steeped in a culture telling us to think of ourselves as consumers instead of citizens, as self-reliant instead of interdependent, is it any wonder we deal with a systemic issue by turning in droves to ineffectual, individual efforts?”

What’s needed is what’s outlined here: WWII-scale climate mobilization.

{ Add a Comment }

CD40106 keyboard thing

This is an instrument I built recently using the CD40106, a hex Schmitt trigger integrated circuit. It uses only two of the available six Schmitt triggers on the chip. While researching this chip (and a few others) I was a little overwhelmed by the possibilities so I decided to keep it simple (for now) and build something uncomplicated and fun but still challenging.

The case is made of 4 hardy cardboard panels fit into the outside wood blocks’ grooves. There’s hot glue, wood glue, and super glue in this thing. The white keys and buttons underneath were from toys. The bottom cardboard panel is attached with a single screw and has a 9V battery box (also from a toy). Here’s a picture of the back and bottom.

And this is what it sounds like!

Switches and knobs from left to right: on/off, LFO triangle or square wave, LFO rate, LFO mod amount, pitch, volume.

Here‘s a link with a great video about this chip and some schematics. And here’s my own schematic!

{ Add a Comment }

Circuit bending the Casio PT-100

angle2

I’ve had this keyboard lying around for years (I don’t remember where or when I got it), and after my first bend I wanted to dive a little deeper.

After experimenting I read the writeup at tablehooters and found the chord modes, rhythm select, and sustain mode. I find the prospect of adding functionality that exists in the hardware but simply wasn’t built into the keyboard really exciting. I couldn’t really add more keys and the extra tone selection seemed convoluted. I also read the noystoise article which hinted at a tone select function but couldn’t find it for the life of me. I did discover a fill button which I added on the far left. [Continue reading…]

{ Add a Comment }

I opened up a gifted keyboard and found an alligator clip and a potentiometer still in the case. So I started poking around and had a lot of fun! This is my first bent keyboard. I really enjoyed making this and I’m currently working on another more ambitious project.

{ Add a Comment }

Here is a nice little article at No Zen in the West about the tension between the personal and communal aspects of buddhist practice and how they play into the political sphere. I’ve observed a dangerous inclination for some zen practitioners to be sort of new-agey and have a hands off approach to politics and this article speaks to it well.

{ Add a Comment }

From this article: “The dharma is not an excuse to turn away from the suffering of the world, nor is it a sedative to get us comfortably through painful times. It is a powerful teaching that frees and strengthens us to work diligently for the liberation of beings from suffering.”

{ Add a Comment }

Ducks is a wonderful short comic.

From the author: “Ducks is about part of my time working at a mining site in Fort McMurray, the events are from 2008. It is a complicated place, it is not the same for all, and these are only my own experiences there. …Ducks is about a lot of things, and among these, it is about environmental destruction in an environment that includes humans. Thank you for taking the time to read it.”

{ Add a Comment }