The Return of Circuit-Bending

The Return of Circuit Bending

So I didn’t tell you about our circuit bending workshop. I mean, I told you it was coming, plenty of times, but I didn’t tell you how it went. Well, it went swimmingly! We had a great turnout, more than I expected. My only regret was that with so many people in the workshop, building kits took the entire time, and CMKT4 didn’t get a chance to play.

CMKT4, who gave up their only day off on their 30 day West Coast tour, to do this workshop in G,ville, told me that our event turned out to be their highest grossing workshop on the entire tour. They had a great time at the event as well, and look forward to returning to Garberville soon. Next time, we’ll get started earlier and go later.

I had a terrific time! I met some cool new people, got to know some people I already knew better, and got to introduce some of my Ham friends to some of my music friends. I also got to stalk our local thrift stores with CMKT4 and ask some circuit bending questions of someone who knows their way around the insides of a Casio mini-keyboard.

I also got to build this spiffy cigar box drum machine. I love the sound. It reminds me of 50s sci-fi movies.


The box contains three piezoelectric contact microphones (probably overkill). The underside has three different sized expansion springs for reverb. Above board you can see a collection of soft drink lids, beer bottle caps, finger cymbals, a small brass bell, five different sized compression springs and two small wire chimes surgically removed from little plush toys.

I grabbed one of those little PAIA two transistor oscillator kits that SHARC was giving away at the event,

took it home and built this little light-controlled, Theremin-like instrument. I housed the project in a burned out solar yard light.


Since this oscillator runs on only one and a half volts, the single AAA battery holder in the yard light provided the power solution. I removed the LED, circuit board and solar panel from the lamp, replacing them with the oscillator circuit card and five photo-resistors wired in series, routing various wires through the hole that originally accommodated the LED. I found a speaker that fit perfectly into an old spray paint can lid, and mounted it to the bottom of the lamp with aluminum angle brackets I cut from an aluminum can. I mounted a momentary action switch, and an output jack in the lamp flange. The switch turns the oscillator on and off, the amount of light coming in the top controls the pitch.

I really hope everyone else who participated in the event had as much fun as I did. I hope CMKT4 will return to Garberville as soon as this Fall and we can have another circuit-bending event, and next time we’ll have some music, maybe including some local circuit-benders.

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