Tag Archives: The SHARC Report

Frank Letton Talks Ham Radio as Competitive Sport

ham contest

On Thursday, April 3 at 5pm on KMUD, The SHARC Report will feature an interview with Southern Humboldt resident Frank Letton recorded on location at his high-performance Ham radio station perched on a mountaintop near his home in Whale Gulch. Frank competes against Hams all over the world using Morse code and only 5 watts of of transmitter power. Using his well-honed operating skills, top-notch radios and finely tuned, hand-made, high-gain antennas, Frank consistently scores among the very best in the nation in Ham radio contests. Tune in to learn more about Ham radio as a competitive sport this Thursday at 5pm, and listen to The SHARC Report, a program presented by the Southern Humboldt Amateur Radio Club, on the first Thursday of every month at 5pm on KMUD.


Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Circuit-Bending, a Fun Way to Learn About Electronics

This month the SHARC Report looks at Circuit-Bending, the art of rewiring battery powered electronic devices to exploit their hidden potential.  I just finished my first album of circuit-bent music titled Um… Uh… Gum Eh?

front cover

Tin Can Luminary is John Hardin (KI6DGX) and Amy Gustin.  Here is the back cover:

fixed backwww

Here’s a couple of samples of the music on it:

I’ll be showing off some of my circuit-bent creations on Friday May 3rd from 5-9pm at the Hemp Connection in Garberville as part of Arts Alive.  Here’s a few of the devices I’ll bring out:

Here’s a few videos to help you make sense of the circuit-bent movement, and to get you started bending yourself:

Here’s Q Reed Ghazala’s piece, Hymn for the Faces of Belmez in it’s entirety:

Below is a good tutorial about how to add a pitch-bend knob to most electronic toys.    This is a very useful and easy modification:

The pitch resistor is usually labeled R1 on the circuit board.  You can also find the pitch resistor by touching it with your finger.  If the pitch of the toy changes when you touch it, you’ve got the right one.

Here’s the link to find the PAIA oscillator kit I described on the show:


Here’s a few circuit-bending links to explore:




Listen to The SHARC Report on KMUD, Garberville on the first Thursday of every month at 5pm Pacific Time, or on the web, both streaming and archived, at http://www.kmud.org

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Capacitance and Energy Stored in an Electric Field

Watch capacitors explode with excessive voltage

Also, capacitors can store a lethal charge of electricity for years after the device has been unplugged.  Be extremely careful with capacitors!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

This Month on The SHARC Report, Zach Adams of CMKT4

The SHARC Report Talks Circuit Bending With Zach Adams of CMKT4 on KMUD

On Thursday, May 3 at 5pm on KMUD, The SHARC Report will present an interview with Zach Adams of the Dekalb, Ill based circuit bending band, CMKT4. In the interview, Adams talks about circuit bending, the DIY electronics workshops they teach, and his band’s upcoming West Coast tour, which will bring them to the Garberville Veterans Hall on Monday May 21st, and to the Ink People’s Annex in Arcata on Tuesday May 22.


Circuit bending, or hardware hacking, involves rewiring electronic circuits to exploit their untapped potential. CMKT4 uses a number of circuit-bent instruments in their music, ranging from rewired sound modules from talking stuffed animals, to educational electronic toys, to modified synthesizers and fuzz boxes, to make their music.

Besides playing circuit-bent music, the band makes and markets electronic kits for circuit-benders and musicians who want to build their own equipment. They also host workshops to teach the skills and inspire the imagination to do it. CMKT4 will lead hands-on circuit bending and electronic kit building workshops at both the upcoming Garberville and Arcata events. The Southern Humboldt Amateur Radio Club, or SHARC presents this radio interview, and upcoming Garberville CMKT4 event to encourage people to have fun with electronics, safely.


SHARC offers a Technician-Class Ham license prep course that covers basic electronics, and Hams are a great resource for anyone who likes to play with soldering pencils and circuit boards. Call Jack Foster at 923 3700 for more info about the Technician-Class license prep class or about the upcoming CMKT4 event.

Tagged , , , , , , ,