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Graphite-Controlled Additive Synthesizer

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Picture of Graphite-Controlled Additive Synthesizer
This is an additive synthesizer where you can change the timbre using a mixer made of merely pencil and paper. Why buy variable resisters when you can build one virtually for free?
 
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Step 1: Parts List

Parts You’ll Need:
-3 alligator clips
-22 awg solid core wire
-Solderless breadboard
-9V battery
-battery clip
-7805, Voltage Regulator
-2 Synchronous 4-bit counters (74HC193N)
-7555 Timer
-4 1kΩ resistors
-1 LED
-1 1µF capacitor
-speaker and audio cable or headphones
-graphite pencil and paper

Step 2: BUILDING THE TIMER CIRCUIT

Picture of BUILDING THE TIMER CIRCUIT
7555.png
Put the 7555 on your breadboard. The 7555 is a timer and we will use it to drive the 4-bit counter. Connect pin 1* to ground. Connect pins 4 and 8 to voltage. Connect pin 2 to pin 6. Connect pin 1 to pin 2 via a 1µF capacitor. Connect pin 5 to voltage via a resistor. Connect pin 8 to pin 7 via a resistor and likewise pin 7 to pin 6, as shown.

Step 3: BUILDING THE 4-BIT COUNTERS

Picture of BUILDING THE 4-BIT COUNTERS
1st Counter.png
2nd Counter.jpg
2nd Counter.png
Place the 4-bit counter next to the 7555 on the board. Wire as shown. Connect the output of the timer (pin 3) to the input of the counter (pin 5). Pins 2, 3, 6 and 7 are the outputs that will go to the mixer.

Build another 4-bit counter the same way. Instead of connecting the input at pin 5 to the 7555, connect it to pin 7 of the previous counter. The yellow wires in the picture are running the output to a different spot on the board for easier access.

Step 4: BUILDING THE GRAPHITE MIXER

Picture of BUILDING THE GRAPHITE MIXER
Audio Jack.jpg
Outputs.jpg
The most important part of this circuit is the simplest. Take your pencil and rub the graphite onto the paper making a thick, long rectangle. We want the graphite to conduct electricity, so make sure there are no lapses.

Connect one end of the graphite to the tip of the audio/headphone jack via an alligator clip. This is the red clip in the picture. Connect the other end to the breadboard’s ground (white clip). Connect the sleeve of the jack also to the breadboard’s ground (black clip). Connect the 8 outputs from the board to the mixer via long wires with exposed ends.
pfred22 years ago
You call that a breadboard? That's not a breadboard, now that's a breadboard!

Check it out, an old light theremin I made. Power was applied at the left, and a speaker goes between ground and some point up by those transistors. By waving your hand over the photocell you change the pitch of the sound.
NYU_MusicTechnology (author)  pfred21 year ago
One of our instructors made a light controlled astable oscillator that was rather extreme in its frequency ranges, and how fast it moved. Perhaps someone could make a dubstep style bass controller this way. 
Orion16152 years ago
Looking at the schematics and the way you connect 2 4bit counters, would it be possible to make a 16-step sequencer by adding 2 more of those 4bit counter modules? Would it be possible to switch between 4, 8 and 16?
NYU_MusicTechnology (author)  Orion16151 year ago
our students make 8 and 16 step sequencers using the 4-bit counter and 8:1 analog multiplexers, similar to these.  hmmm.  time to make another instructable! :)
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