Light Theremin Kits
This kit is available. Contact me @ DarcyNeal.email@example.com
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The All Seeing Eyes Light Theremin Kit
This is the pcb kit for the All Seeing Eyes light theremin. This is a light-based interactive insturment based on the 40106 hex schmitt trigger. This circuit was the the brains for the Tentacle Oscillator, which was sold as a commission to the Flaming Lips, and was used during the song ‘Sleeping on the Roof’ for a solo noise performance. It is also used for part of the Weather Oscillator. It is very fun to play. There are 6 photocell receptors, which have been tuned to 2 different notes, so 3 are tuned to one note and 2 are tuned to another note. The 6th photocell receptor produces a different tone, which can be modded with extra features for the more ambitious, message me for details if interested in the plans for the mod. The photocells have been tuned to be 2 1/2 steps apart, and was originally tuned to a C and E flat, so the foundation for the sounds heard are slightly in tune and harmonize with each other. The amount of light hitting it determines the pitch/note that you hear, and it can range from being very high pitched to very low pitched. The two potentiometers control the tone and volume.
Different types of light sources will produce various sound effects. Lighting effects will enhance the sound in unique ways, as well as alter the users itneraction with the piece. Some options for different lighting could be: A stationary light source, which would produce a controllable and constant tone/sound. Lights with flexible goosenecks are nice for when a consistent tone is desired. Another option could be an ambient light source, which could be altered with shade or reflection. Programmed light sequences, such as strobe lights, party lights, bike lights (stationary or handheld) will produce interesting results as well. I prefer this method because it directly ties the visual reference to the sound being heard. Another source of light could be from a video/film. dependent on the scene being shown, the sound could be used to enhance the action seen. You can also extend the range of the photocells by using some extension wire to remove it off of the board itself, so the different photocell receptors could truly produce their own independent sound. Experimentation is highly encouraged! Please feel free to modify this circuit in any way that you see fit. Buttons/switches/potentiometers can all be added to enhance your circuit and turn it into a custom one-of-a-kind musical instrument.
This circuit is a variation of a schematic that I originally discovered in Nicolas Collin’s book Handmade Electronic Music. The passive tone control/volume was inspired by the designs of Thomas Henry.
Video examples on the same circuit can be seen on the Tentacle Oscillator page
This is an example from its first incarnation, where the light is being triggered with a holiday prop that has a microphone that detects/reacts to light levels, which is then being picked up by the light theremin, which produces the sound you hear.
Here is a rough recording of it being tested out with a stationary light source, as well as my programmable light sequencer, which is a work in progress.
The logo was a collaboration between myself and Nevada Hill.
Step-by-step process for assembling the All Seeing Eyes light theremin kit.
This is the pcb for the All Seeing Eyes light theremin, which is the brains for the Tentacle Oscillator, as well as part of the Weather Oscillator. It was sold as a commission to the Flaming Lips at one point, and is very fun to play. There are 6 photocell receptors, which have been tuned to 2 different notes. The notes have been tuned to be 2 1/2 steps apart, and was originally tuned to a C and E flat. The actual note heard is completely dependent upon the amount of light hitting the photocells though, so it will be be able to range from being very high pitched to very low pitched.
If you have never soldered before, definitely do some research about how to properly use a soldering iron first. Check out some videos online of soldering, and practice on something that is not important to help you get the hang of it. Most of the components on this board can endure some abuse, so it is a good kit for beginners to use.
Here’s an excellent PDF for How to Solder.
Insert the IC socket first. Make sure the notch is facing the right direction. The notch indicates which direction the IC should be inserted. If it is inserted backwards, the insturment will not work.
Inspect your soldering joints after every component. A poor soldering job could cause the insturment not to function properly. Make sure that the solder is not bridging any gaps.
Work on inserting components one type at a time. All of the resistors on their side are 10K. The resistors standing up (R1-R10) are a different value (as well as R13) so pay close attention to the color bands, which indicate what value the resistor is.
If you bend out the excess leads, it will hold the component in place while soldering.
Cut of any excess leads after the component is soldered.
The 10uF yellow capacitors can be inserted in any direction. (they are non-polarized)
The 10K capacitors (C9 & C10) are polarized, and must be inserted in the proper direction. The square hole on the PCB indicates that the negative leg of the capacitor should be inserted through it. The negative side of the capacitor is indicated by the black band and negative symbol.
The photocells should fit nicely in between the capacitors. I prefer them to be flush with the top of the capacitors. You can help hold them in place during soldering by holding them in with a piece of sticky tape.
The potentiometers may need a little shove to get them to snap into place.
The 1/4″ jack may push up against the capacitor a little, which is fine. If there is a black plastic tab sticking out between the legs of the 1/4″ jack, cut it off so that it will fit into the PCB better.
At this point, all components except the battery pack and screw should be in place. Inspect all the solder joints to ensure that everything is soldered properly.
Insert the battery pack on the underside and solder the two joints on the top of the board.
Insert the the screw through the battery case, so that the head of the screw will be covered up by the battery when inserted. The threading of the screw will grab onto the board, holding the battery pack securely in place.
Last, insert the IC into its socket. When you first receive your IC, the legs are spread out a little bit. To get it to fit inside the socket, gently bend the legs in a little bit as shown in the image above, so that the legs point straight down. *Make sure the notch on the IC matches the notch on the PCB! It will not function if the IC is inserted backwards.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me @ DarcyNeal.firstname.lastname@example.org