The incredible stylophone

Thanks to Felix in Raglan of I have been introduced to the stylophone. A remarkable device that has been around for years and a wee search will bring up Rolf Harris and David Bowie as famous people enamoured of its delights.

I found a schematic and I’m going to build one.
The stylophone

T1 is a BJT which is a unijunction transistor and they are available from jaycar. The two outputs from the top of what looks like a diode are B1 and B2 and from the bottom is E1 and apart from that seemingly obscure device all the rest of it is straight forward stuff. Bjt’s have long been used as oscillators… something relaxation oscillators I think… from memory, and circuits with them used as such are in a few of my old beginning in electronics books.

Basically the resistance is in parallel with a capacitance across B1 and E1 and then the output off B2 which feeds a normal oscillator of the type we know as a tremolo… oops, got it wrong.

Okay, the audio oscillator, with output at E1, is across B1 and E1 and this is modulated with the LFO at B2. D1 and D2 are signal diodes or germaniums though either should work and the amp is T3 and would be a low gain device with a high mA rated, up to a watt maybe so a little bigger than a straight signal amp but still a tiny little thing. T2, the LFO amp would be a typical voltage amp transistor like a BC549.

So while I was shown it yesterday I immediately thought it would make an interesting configuration for a beatbox and sure enough… there is a stylophone beatbox.
This article is selling for the low price of US$21.50 and would be a bargain in any neck of the woods especially with all the luck I’ve had building drum machines… which ain’t much!

Funny how the idea I had yesterday about a drum machine version of the stylophone was based on having a round copper board and then having the stylus revolving around the circle at the speed of the drumbeat one wanted… and here it is round!
The required patchbay to change the sequences isn’t there though. Maybe I’ll suggest it to the manufacturers if I can find them.


So the sound thing is taken a backseat to the making of artworks.

Of course, in my own head it’s all totally interconnected and the sound things are artworks and what I do with them when they are finished is also hopefully artwork but we live in a world totally ignorant of many of the finer balances that need to be made so I have to change tack and redefine what I do along the lines of being more interested in how something looks than how it works.

I’m still making utilitarian objects but the balance has moved from performance to appearance and while I don’t necesarly mind that, it’s all just problem solving after all, it’s somewhat like cutting off the hands to over emphasise the face and thats seems a bit of a pity.

So it’s a compromise. I am compromising myself to make money… in a purist sense, but I’m also quite keen to have some sound making facility in one or two art objects as well as doing music during the opening so maybe it’s also about backward steps to allow people to see the directions that have led to me to where I am know.

Whether or not any of it is important is debatable but I really have to go outside to make things so I won’t be joining the debate.

Excuse me, please, for being an arrogant idiot.

The story I wrote yesterday about going to Howick was read by the tube man, I did leave the blog address with him afterall, and he wasn’t too happy about how I portrayed him. Fair enough to as in re-reading the post it was fairly obvious that I’d used a situation that was alittle fraught to highlight another situation that was the opposite… and I’d taken no responsibility for the first situation and heaped all onto a busy man just trying to make ends meet and by taking no responsibility I’d even transgressed by using him to build my own behaviour into something without question.

My first thought was to change the last post to show him in a more favourable light but then I thought that thats really just more of the same and it’d be better for all if I got honest and admitted my failings.

I do suffer from the need to tell stories and in those stories I often want to define a moral. That the subjects are pushed and pulled to suit my own objectives is the actual truth distorted to suit my own definition of it. Sometimes its alright to do this and sometimes it’s not and in this case I have been caught out as a hypocrite because I often state that the means do not justify the ends. But I often also state that I am a hypocrite because I sincerely believe that we can only learn things by the depth to which we hold them as truths and then find them failing and have to change our ideas of reality and therefore be humble and honest about our always apparent and obvious, though we forget so conveniently and easily, risk of failing.
But in this case, and I know it too be true for I did feel the twinges of doubt as I wrote but disregarded them, I have been guilty of stretching the truth a little too far and not at my own expence but at anothers and that is blatantly a wrong on my part.

So I offer my sincerest apologies to a man who is obviously a fine craftman and who can choose to do what ever he wants and feel how ever he wants in this world. His actions are not subject to my judgements and I’m sorry that I was so arrogant as to believe that my own actions are beyond reproach. I saw only from my own eyes and did him the discourtesy of believing that his own view and views were unworthy of my own lofty worthiness… arrogance.

Should I be punished? Well the fact that I have lost a potential friend may very well be punishment enough as this man was obviousely talented in that he was not only trading in a competancy that people needed and self employed to boot, which is a totally under rated challenge in itself to carry on with even mediocre success, but he had a passion for another feild, allied but considerably different, in which his level was the equal to practitioners of which only a handful exist and are at the top of a field held in considerable esteem by the professionals lucky enough to afford the talents they exhibit.

So I stand cap in hand and my eyes downcast hoping I will be forgiven and that this backward step I have been caught making was and is a mistake on my part that I am willing to learn from and will eat any humble pie I am deserving of… and then some.

Dropping music for art… for a little while.

So I’ve finally in a position to get into building some stuff for the upcoming exhibition in honour of the late great Peter Sauerbier. I did the invite in Photoshop and got nowhere near the amount of info that I thought I needed but, as usual, not having alot to work with ended up being a good thing.
So it’s at the now renamed Pierre Peeters gallery in Parnell, formely Aesthete gallery in the courtyard at 251 Parnell Rd from the 9th of March to the 6th of April with the opening starting at 5.30 on the 9th.
But there we go, while I was doing this I had a call from Pierre and had to do some changes to the above artwork… can you spot the changes?
So thats hopefully all done and out of the way now and I can concentrate on building artworks at last. And yesterday a set of circumstances came together that gave me the absolutely excellent place to retrieve old bits and pieces to go on these found object artworks. The day before yesterday I’d finally fired up my latest valve amp and it went mostly except for the 6AU6 pentode. I had a look in the book and found another valve with similar pinout and ratings that I had on hand, a 6BA6, and tried that and actually got signal but still faint. From that I deduced that my 6AU6’s were a little worn out, though I had other problems, but for the moment I needed another 6AU6.
So theres a guy on trade me that sells valves in Manukau City so I ask him on one of his auctions if he has a 6AU6 and he says maybe and come visit… so I find an auction for a bunch of HV capacitors for 10 bucks buy now and do so and I get his address in Howick. He says hes at work 7 days and drop in anytime. The next day I had money so got in the car to go to Howick which is a good thing because I’ll be a able to pay a visit to the lovely Bogusha at the Uxbridge art gallery who I haven’t seen for a year.

So I arrive at this car audio workshop in the commercial district of Howick, which is still alive and well with small businesses (theres a guy round the corner who is basically a panel beater but does restoration and has an English wheel which I must have a go on at some stage), and the guys not there but the woman says he’ll be back soon and have a look around. In retrospect I think she meant his wall of valve amps, which I didn’t see, but I thought she meant his working area so off I went into the workshop with valves and transformers and broken open valve amps all over the place… heaven!
But without the owner about I’m always tentative in other peoples spaces, it’s just rude to be otherwise, but I was invited so I had a good look about with minimal touching and then this guy comes in and it’s obvious straight away that I’m not supposed to be where I am. I’ve been respectful so I don’t feel in the wrong but this guys definitely off on the wrong foot. So the guy has a job on that he wants to get on with so my order for assorted capacitors is a bit of a chore for him so I say forget it, I’ll deposit the money in your bank account and so can send them to me at your leisure, I’ll gladly let people off the hook they choose to get themselves caught on, but I’ve got a 20 dollar note and what I could do with is an OA2 valve voltage regulator for some SV83’s I’ve got. Has he got one of those? Yes indeed, and they are wonderful because when they do their job they glow purple and you don’t get that with SS. He wants 20 bucks though, which is actually quite steep but what the hell… ask and though shall receive. I pay the man, whos incredibly busy but still has time to then show me his wall of finished amplifiers… which I’m only vaguely interested in. Workshops over retail anyday for me.

Bit of a bad taste there but only because he was busy, and as usual I’m not, but I get in the car with the brand new NOS OA2 and go see Bogusha who is really pleased to see me. I just love women from the east of Europe, and can spend whole days just listening to their accents… I love it! And then when they reciprocate it’s almost heaven. So we talk for a while, being constantly interrupted ’cause shes actually at work, but thats okay ’cause we make some connections and intend to make time in the near future to be together some more.

I’m in a better mood when I leave, not that it was bad at all, and then by a series of turns, after checking out the Howick opshop, I spot this little antique shop right down the back of Howick, and even go past it but reverse dangerously back down the road and go in.

What a brilliant place! After 2 minutes I’m offered work! The old fellow sizes me up old school style and within five minutes we’re out the back for a good long chat all about life and I’ve found yet another old friend!

On leaving I say I won’t have a good look around today but I’ll wait until I have my artworks started then come back and find what’ll be obviously needed… And he’s mentioned quite a few times that his sheds out on the farm are absolutely loaded with piles of the old and precious and we’ve completely established that good stuff is better where it ought to be than the simplistic notion of just having lots of cash in ones pockets…

Don’t you just love being alive….?

Exhibition sorted… Thankyou Pete!!!


Last thursday I was in at the gallery tlking to Pierre and he mentioned something called steampunk and that someone had mentioned it to him, an american, as a place to sell my works.

I immediately thought of the movie steamboy, that anime film about the future as a steam driven adventure, and low and behold theres this thriving sub-culture out there where people all play dress up, mostly, but by affiliation there are a few builders of art doing interesting things.
This guy seems to be the king of suchlike and I like it!
I kinda reminds me of a phase I went through in the nineties with the newton rd crew just after we got into doing lotsa metal work so the kinda music making and alternative fashion got mixed up with the metalwork ethic with goggles, leather and sparks flying.

And then low and behold it becomes a fully fledged fashion and role playing reason for living in more first world parts of the world.
Just have a look through here to see what I mean

And me, how do I fit into this, that is the question I ask myself and realise with a little twist in what I do I could quite easily fit into this genre, but more significantly, sell objects to these people on places like Ebay and as an aside I have a ready built platform to make artworks for an upcoming show that is a tribute to Peter Sauerbier.

It would never work in New Zealand as I think we’re all a little too individualistic (when we are inclined towards bent) and the population base is just a bit too small but I’d be inclined to hazard that the idiosyncracies we do exhibit may very well have done alot to inspire the rest of the world towards these ideals. But such an idea can only remain an idea because to back it up with tangible fact is beyond reason and would be incredibly boring to try and investigate anyways.

One could also say that New Zealand, with its isolation and remoteness, combined with many first world activities, is obviously a seed bed for the new and inspiring, but thats not to say that the rest of the world hasn’t also got its outposts of obscurity where individualism can feed on itself and also have access to the detritus of medernity to play with.

It’s really that I do have to create something akin to bread and butter to fuel my forays into music making apparatus and have kept away, somewhat, from building the instruments purely decorative, and have kept to what could be termed a pragmatic approach.

Finding the Steampunkworkshop and the idea of just sugar coating a modern appliance with the ideals of a fantastic false world aesthetic is actually quite appealing and engrossing to me and even though I say false world its not in a demeaning way as I actually think that these people have a valid point to make in the underlying ideals that were prevalent in the victorian mode. The Victorians themselves may not have felt that their wares were built to last and built in obselescence was not even a possibility but the fact remains that so much of the stuff they made has lasted and did so because it was well built, used repairable materials and was usually specific in it’s functionality and did the job well. I agree with this and the underlying motivations in my own works hearken back to these ways of working where that which is built even lasts simply because it’s well built and in lasting it begins to take on an interplay between user and article that builds something else…possibly mojo!

Mojo? a relationship between object and user that becomes one of respect and care. Surely some other unmeasureable quantity, an aside to quality, comes into this that is a feeling that enriches our lives?

Here we go again.

The reverb and sustain thing has so many possibilities and this is a good one that may enjoy a certain revival. Hints at the old speaking tubes of Zeppelins and an age before even the carbon microphone.

Also I kinda forgotten about the whole DIY thing around tape op and I wish we could get the mags here as opposed to all those digi store bought equped and ready to have the biggest best monitors magazines that just feed a blinded addiction to having been told what to do and how money and the right source of mojo can solve all our problems…of self.
what is it?
oh, thats what it is.
From this thread
Coupla 600 ohm dynamic mic capsules, not necessary to dismantle your sm57’s I’m sure, and some garden hose plus a headphone driver amp and a preamp with a little EQ… though they do mention a little post high added in… and you have a modern version of a speaker tube… or two tins and some string.

I also found this place on my searches to understand carbon mics and it was thoroughly entertaining and I want his books.

Isn’t this just kinda weird. K.I.S.S.

Workshop spaces…untidy.

I had a chance to do a bit of a cleanup before christmas but since then I’ve been making stuff all over the place so I’ve just made everything just one big mess and have ended up working outside on the pathway. So before I go and tidy everything up and maybe even make some more shelves here and there I thought I’d photograph it all so everyone who reads this can see how potentially untidy I can get.

But I suppose that while you’re waiting for all the photos to upload I can briefly say whats been going on for the last few days. Well, the money thing has ended and the flows back on mainly from sales on Trade me but my gallery man decided to flick me a few hundred on tick as well… so I’m basically set for another month, all bills paid, enough to finish up most of the projects and keep myself in coffee and cigarettes… if I’m careful, what more could one ask for?

So theres also a bit of work in the pipeline with some stuff for the lovely Sheena who sells stuff at Titirangi market and maybe some electronics for Jamie Bowen the comedian. So there all back from holiday and my services are required…. good!

Yesterday I went out for a wee shop to surplustronics and got a small bag of needed stuff and dropped in at Ben’s later and got a bunch of telephone carbon mics to play with. But I also dropped into the tool barn, in Panmure, earlier and got a choice little forged, as in blacksmithing, bench vice and a small box of brass screws, N04, which are quite hard to get these days. He also had a box of technotool wood lathe accesories and they are just the kind of stuff I need to get my own monster wood lathe together ’cause I’m actually quite keen to make up some shapes and do some metal spinning. I offered him a swap for a swedish small model makers unimate lathe I picked up years ago and his eyes absolutely lit up and he was real keen. The box of stuff was priced at 250.00 and thats fine by me and I know these unimates are getting horrendously high prices on Ebay these days but I got it for free so anything is a bargain really.

Should have loaded by now. One other thing but I’ll wait till the end and it may make more sense by then.
PC room
This is where I am now and it’s dismal how underutilised this room is. It’s in the house and one day I’ll move out completely to my sheds and lean to’s.
lean to.
Then it’s out of the house, Mums, and this is my lean to shed where I do most of the metalwork but have recently been doing just about everything in here as it’s the only good sized space thats under cover. I do like floors… big and empty, and work alot kneeling and sitting on my ass.
This is what the lean to leans on…my house, upstairs is where I sleep ( you can just see the sloping stair beam) and to the left is the room which I’ll tidy up to get painting some pictures and eventually the place where I’ll keep all my paperwork but on the floor right in front is kinda my musical instrument storage space. Hard left I’m going to put some shelves in and theres quite a big space above where I’m going to hang the bigger instruments.
Garage entrance
Now were entering the shed proper and the floor is strew with tools that should be put away but because I’ve been working in the lean to I just unfurl a power cable and pick up and return all the tools to the floor by the door.
electro workbench
This is supposedly where I do all the solid state electronics but its not been tidied in quite a while and needs a thorough going over.
And hard in behind the electro SS bench is just loads of stuff that needs a proper place to be stored and not just clutter the place up.
looking back
From the end of that room we see the tube bench up against the window which is suddenly much in my mind these days as SS just means lots of buying new parts whereas tubes is just picking and choosing of the parts already rummaged and chucking stuff together. Much more mechanical and chunky type stuff… plus it’s alot more dangerous.
knives, cutters, clamps, chisels, rulers, pencils, drills, etc.
Then it’s through the next door and my last bit of floor that was useful for making things but has recently just become a tool depository.
mostly tidied actually, just needs clearing and shelving.
Back wall behind the main working bech is the place where all the bits and bobs go.
main bench
This should be completely clear. Its the main bench for doing mostly clean work with really sharp stuff. But it’s littered with just about finished stuff… and more tools that should be put away.
negotiate in the dark? yes' of course.
This shows the floor, a little, of the main thoroughfare between outside and the main workshop and it’s completely littered with stuff. When I’ve finished at night and turn the lights out I have to negotiate this space in pitch black and I leave little footholds where over time I’ve been able to remember. I know thats kinda good to be able to do things like that in the dark, spatial sense relative to body etc, but it’d be a lot better if I was just tidy.

Now I’m going into town to get a photo of an old ham radio sitting on a toilet cistern in a cafe, and get some photos of buildings vying for attention, old and new, to do some paintings then stop into Panmure with a rusty old bunch of swedish steel to get some much nicer and cleaner English steel.

I was going to talk about the valve radio, in the cafe, and the late great Fred Nachbaur… but I’ll get the photos first. Meantime go look at his site.

Or have a good look around here at this wonderful site. I want his books!

Karens Ballon.

I’ve approached the Vit S guys about working with fraulien Karen and doing “Stilled life with intercontinental remote controlled mail dirigables” but have yet to recieve a reply but thats not stopping me going forward and building an instrument for her… if we end up doing something.

Might be a case of the curators running the farm and not listening to the little piggies in the mud, but whats so unusual about that these days?
So this is the instrument so far.
mailish dirigablitus
It’ll have microphones attached to the top…
early radio anyone.
and each mic on a momentary and then mixed with a kinda wind machine thing which is a white noise going though a filter similar to a wah which is movable bandpass. Once mixed the signal is split to a bypass and a set of eight strings, tuned to a note each of a known scale, or otherwise, which has an amp feeding a sustainer to make the strings vibrate. This is picked up by a normal magnetic wire wound guitar pickup, a humbucking one split into two, and then the output mixed with the bypass signal.
Then it going into another amp, and a bypass, that sends the signal out through speakers onto the spring mounted sheet, which has piezo’s attached to it and the signal is mixed and goes out.

Karen would stand behind it with the mics at the right height and be able to push the momentaries for each mic, just like a stewardess on a zeppelin, while also having the two controls of the windmachine to play and the mix knob to balance or unbalance those two variables.
The signal can then be sent, or partial parts thereof, to the strings where notes will set particular strings in motion to be picked up and mixed again, another knob, and then the reverb does it’s job which again the original signal and the reverb are controlled with one knob. While all this is going on the string tuning is accesible while the strings themselves can be reached as also is the sheet of the reverb.

So it’s all for a specific show but if that doesn’t eventuate, and I have no idea whether it will or not, it doesn’t matter because the exercise of deciding to do something for someone else to use, who I’ve watched performing a little bit, takes me away from what I’d normally do for myself. With instruments I build to play the inter-connections between elements are obvoius to me but, and I’ve let others play my instruments to gauge this, they aren’t so obvious to others, so in this instrument, kinda designed for a specific person and use, has allowed me to approach things from a completely different angle.

The vitamin S thing has even had workshops about different ways to approach performance, taking on personnas, reviewing storylines, etc and here I am using the approach to distance self from self to build the instruments… and I like it.
Apart from this I’ve mostly finished the little tube amp.
little tube amp, LTA.
and it was a real chore, but an enjoyable one, making all that stuff fit into such a tiny space. All I’ve got to do now is put on the grill then rip it down and sand the shit out of the outside and then oil it up. I contemplated carving the rimu and oak so that it looks like its a squashed carton with ripples and folds all the way across and around it but I don’t think I can be assed with any of that and I’ll just put a grill on the front and that’ll do until a quieter time when my workshops are tidied up and I’m well beyond this super mess I’ve created with these weeks of building and having no cash.

But this Comedian fellow may be good fun, pun intended, because he wants to use a digi looper and a bunch of instruments for his act and it seems like I’m just the man to sort out his kit for him. For the difference of the price of the looper he was looking at, an RC20, and the price of that which will do, the RC2, I should be able to mic, mix and make simple to setup, what he needs to do his job.

I find it really interesting that to work conventionally and buy mic’s preamps and mixers to be able to get signal into the loopers is a very tedious, space eating and expensive task for people who want to use loopers… unless they are already in a band and have acess to this stuff and the accepted setup time it takes to get it all together.

What the problem is is that the digi loopers aren’t only appliable to the band on a stage conventionality and they are somewhat of an anachronism to it, even though they are developed for it. They are more akin to the ipods and blackberries that the youth of today take for granted and as such they, the loopers, are becoming of interest to many outside that hallowed world of loud bands and sweating fans and afficienados.
But the trouble is the interconnectivity of the ipods and suchlike, the bluetooth thing, is not there with the loopers which are still encumbered with the 6.5mm jack and the metres and metres of cabling and big butty gear of the machismo world of the boy bands… but the looper actually shares more in common with the cellphones and ipods. It’s kind of like a modern sports car that they’ve put tractor wheels onto.

Now with someone like a Comedian wanting to use a looper it stands to reason that having half an acre of patch leads and a rack of equipment to do his job is just complete nonsense but then he finds me, or I found him because I was the one who had the nutty old Italian harmonium for sale, who has been working in vitamin S where the conventional musical world is still somewhat prevalent but the idea of putting three people together into a small space with there own gear and doing it quickly has alot more akin to a vaudville presentation or school play than it has to ticket buying and 164 trucks worth of stuff for a U2 show.

Lucky me huh? though I’m not even contemplating a commercial venture making lots of little simple amps and preamps and mixers I do know that commerciality has to be completely stupid if they haven’t seen the potential market that is slowly growing into something that needs feeding.
I’m quite content to see it as an interesting set of problems that need solving and I’m quite glad I’m somewhat in the right place at the right time to have a go at it and as usual what the market gets, a few had years before and are already doing something else.

Harmoniums maybe? So I fixed the other one, the Italian job, and thats made me somewhat interested in the real McCoy eastern one that I have for sale on Trade Me.
As you can see it’s quite the interesting piece with all those keys. springs and valves.
While inside it’s rows of reeds and chambers and stops.
But then again, I have got the old church one to keep me busy if I ever need a reed fix.

microphone capsules

I’ve been hooking anything and everything up to the amp and seeing if it works as a microphone and mostly they do. This thing below confused me because I couldn’t get anything from it, but I had two so I took one apart.
planar ribbon
And after pulling it apart I realised it was a dynamic mic. The two outer discs are magnets and the inner diaphram has a coil on it so it therefore works just like a dynamic mic where the coil moves in the magnetic field and so a current is generated in the coil. Then I published this picture looking for more info, than I actually got, but I was told that it’s a planar ribbon mic. My God, I own a ribbon Mic.

And it makes sense as the coil is actually an aluminium foil ,whether cut or etched is beyond me, but it is a ribbon of sorts and it is suspended between two magnets and the one reference of any use, on the net, I could find of planar ribbon mcrophones stated that they are much sturdier than regular ribbon microphones.

So far several capsules I’d thought were carbon were actually dynamic and so I decided to hook a speaker up to the input of my amp and lo and behold even that transduced signal.

Now I’ve just gotta think up way to mount these things in various ways to make them interesting.
Very good article on microphones.

Actually, as well today, I fixed an Italian electric harmonium that I’d sold on Trade me to a Comedian…literally, the guy does an act using musical instruments, and as I was fixing it I realised how well thought out it’s construction was and I realised the uses I could put it to…deconstructed.
But it wasn’t mine anymore so, oh well. One of the reeds wasn’t vibrating and upon pulling it apart I could see that the reed wouldn’t go into it’s channel and was getting caught up on an edge so I had to remove the reed box and adjust it so it would fit properly. Trouble was that the keys had rods off the ends that had a foot of sorts on the end that covered the hole that entered the reed box and these feet lifted off the hole to sound the note but to remove the reed box and get acces to the individual reeds I had to lift the keys as a whole. It seemed that the Italians had nailed this key frame to the backing board and all I could do was slowly file off the nail heads and lift the whole assembly. Very tiresome…. until I realised that the knob on the end of the harmonium body was an axle that could be pulled out and would allow all the keys to be removed. Good golly, I could have kicked myself at my own stupidity if I wasn’t so pleased with these Italians cleverness that was resolved down to absolute simplicity. It’s like that sometimes when incredibly well engineered stuff is not supposed to be that simple or ones own version of stupid simple takes precedence over divinely simple so one misses the obvious. Anyways after that it was plain sailing removing the reed box and tweaking the riveted reed so that it didn’t hit its channel edges and swung easily in and out. Engineering at it’s best is simple and things can be fixed, as opposed to removeable, but still be tweaked.
Italian electric harmonium
It’s actually got me thinking about the real fair dinkum indian harmonium, actually Pakistani as its made in Dhaka, that I’ve got for sale on trade me. It’s got to be full of reeds and stops and that that kinda stuff but then again I’ve got the monster harmonium out in the garage and once I get a little space I’ll take all my reed fantasies out on that… or be old enough then to just refurbish it and keep it in all it’s glory, Yessiree!

New mad instrument

Kinda started on something yesterday which is kinda simple but quite involved at the same time.

I was on the net yesterday morning and found an interesting thread at experimentalist anonymous about a guy using a speaker with the cone removed to drive strings somewhat like a sustainer but closer to the ebow.

That got me going because of something else I saw a few days ago which was on a thread at DIY stompboxes which was called transduce anything.
This thing has a small lip on the front of the speaker, which seems to be just that, a speaker, which is most probably a little soft and neoprene or somesuch, and then the frame with legs some sort of resiliant, or compliant, plastic so the two together act like a shock absorber and transfer the movement of the speaker cone and its winding.

Kinda clever really and it brought me to the idea of using it as a plate reverb driver. so I was reading around and about on string and plate drivers so it’s only a short step to devise an instrument that combines the two. Oh, and some guy somewhere or other was building some sort of multi stringed harmonic thingy with sustainer type drivers. This is where you take apart a pickup and rewind it with thicker gauge wire to make 8 ohms then drive it with a small amp and the changing magnetic field of the magnets drives the strings.

Same principle as the sustainer except the sustainer works with a pickup, on the same set of strings, and forms a kind of feedback system, whereas the harmonics thing has another outside signal fed in and then only the strings tuned to the frequency, or harmonic intervals, will sound but the drive system is the same.

So, of course, I start thinking about merging the two so there is a set of strings that have a driver on them but this is fed by both an input signal and a pickup on the other end of the strings. The we have the plate reverb to accommadate so the signal from the strings goes to another amp which drives a speaker close to the plate, or sheet because plates don’t flex enough in the sizes I’m into, which is pcked up by piezos and out into the real world… with maybe a little feedback to the string driver. And the input signal? well, two of them, actually maybe three, outside source, noise maker I’ve recently found which is a white noise generator into a bandpass filter and a microphone.
This is an old telephone carbon mic capsule I tested into an amp yesterday and actually gave quite good results, to the left, while the other two still need work because they sounded like crap but may just need a little voltage and the proper impedance to be fed into.
I cut out a holder and then attached it with springs to an old speaker surround to get that 30’s broadcast mic feel.
string driver
And this I made last night as well. I’d found a site that shows you how to build an 8 ohm driver from an old guitar pickup and so I kinda did what I thought was easiest. The pages said 112 times winding around the core of .2mm wire and the insulated wire I had was about .2mm, give or take a few tenths of mm, so I got some neodenium magnets and cut out some PCB bard, drilled it and glued the lot together with cheap chinese super glue. Then I wound the wire I had around it 130 times, just to be safe, and got about 30 ohms which was too much and so I took a bunch of winding off and ended up with 16.9 ohms which is close enough. This all means my wire choice was quite a bit finer than .2mm so I’ll get a good high frequency response but it won’t take much drive before it burns out but I have neodenium magnets so the transfer of electrical energy to magnetic energy should be very good and won’t need as much power anyways.

Thats the thing with kinda experimental noise making, good enough can often be better than going for absolute and proven results and lead into much more interesting developments.

So essentially the instrument has a frame about 250 x 1500 that stands up right and this holds the spring tensioned sheet reverb. Atop this frame is the microphone. On the front is a barbacue dish, which is half a sphere, which has the frame to hold the strings vertically which the tensioning knobs at the top end. On the back, halfway up is the control panel which sets all the signal levels and allows mixing of the various signals.

So it’s kinda etherial voice, given the kinda crackily telephone mic, mixed with the wind sound generator played into the strings for harmonics and drone then played into the plate, with feedback at the strings and plate, then out into the world at line level and one small internal speaker aimed at the audience.

So I’m thinking about this festival gig and doing it with the German woman Karen and she does voice stuff so this thing, instrument, will be for her to play with. I watched her play one of my other instruments, and she had no idea what was going on when she twiddled knobs, so its kinda designed with that in mind, that knob twiddling will bring results.
blown dirigable
Kinda like this but with a sheet of something in the frame so you can see how playing the sheet and the string will be accesible by the player standing behind it…