Make a cute + expressive 1-bit noise synthesizer with a logic gate and a few other spare parts.

Watch a demo video to get a better idea of what I mean, or listen to some improvisations: 321.

Step 1: Materials

Here are things you'll to do it exactly the same way I did. Some things, like capacitor size, will vary. Other things could be totally different (you might try a different logic chip, for example).


  • Soldering iron + solder
  • Hot glue gun + glue
  • Knife/razor
  • Wire Cutter
  • Breadboard



  • Oscilloscope
  • Power supply (for watching current draw)
  • Multimeter
  • Sound system or headphones
<p>Hi guys! This is awesome but I am serious amateur is this the simplest way to make a synth. I currently working on a project with e-textiles and want to make a tshirt that is the controller for a synth and this is the perfect. Any help? Cheers! </p>
Is there a way I can avoid the 4093? I don't seem to have that ic...
<p>Yes,if you have an other nand gate chip such as 74HC00 (pinouts are diffrerent)</p>
I love the 'dead bug' style of soldering everything together.
what exactly does this do?
kyle, this is awesome ... this thread is now old, and I see you're on to some truly amazing 3d scanning stuff.. but I'm still curious about this 'megaheterodyne capacitive' sensor you use to drive the LEDs... can you offer a schematic or even just a little more detailed discription of what that circuit is about?<br />
Hey uberklok -- yes, this is old, but I'd like to come back to it at some point :)<br /> <br /> The &quot;megaheterodyne&quot; capacitive sensor is basically this:<br /> <br /> http://www.thereminworld.com/pics/schematics/simple.jpg<br /> <br /> Running in the MHz range rather than KHz (KHz is the standard range for heterodyne sensing, a la the classic theremin design).<br />
I just love to look of this thing, and the tiny size! great intructable. But I need to find a better source for buying parts, Norway is so horribly expensive!<br />
The foam where my ICs was, is not conductive. I bought couple of 555s and they were on that black foam, and I tried does it have any conductance and it didn't..... Why yours was but not mine=0 : D<br />
thank you. <br />
Is there a way to wire a pot, so that I can change the pitch with that?
The four FSRs control different aspects of the pitch. Instead of using FSRs, you can use the center tap and one end of a pot, yes.
Cool. I was planning on doing a project with about 8 of these.
You used a 4093? I have a handfull of 4011's. They are the more widespread type, methinks. I suppose it will still work with a different NAND?
I've only worked with Schmitt-triggered gates, so I can't say whether it will work. Give it a shot!
I looked up the datasheet on them. My particular flavor of 4011 has schmitt-trigger inputs, so I guess it would work. The next problem is why there are two near identical chips in the 4000 series!
Triple modulated feedback loop?
I wonder if you could put a NAND device in between two microphones and an amplifier to get a weird mix of two sounds?
Totally, you'd just need to amplify them a bit before doing the logic (otherwise only the loudest sounds would mix). Audio is generally +/- 1V but logic runs at 5V or 9V, with cutoffs for HIGH and LOW at 1/3 and 2/3 the voltage (in the case of schmitt trigger inputs). I'm not sure what it would sound like...
It might sound like reverse audio clipping, but, not being an audio engineer, I don't know.<br/>A more do-able way may be to have an opamp act as an analog NAND.<br/>Lemme try an ascii-art schematic:<br/><br/> R1<br/>in1&gt;--<sup>v</sup>v<sup>v---\</sup><br/> | R3<br/> R2 L<span class="underline"></span>_o----<sup>v</sup>v<sup>v-------------------- |</sup><br/>in2&gt;---<sup>v</sup>v<sup>v--/ | |</sup><br/> | |<br/> \ |<br/> L---(- in) |<br/> (opamp) (out )&gt;------*------------&gt; circuit outputs<br/> | ------(+ in)<br/> |<br/> |<br/> V <br/> (GND)<br/>
Crap, it didn't work.
But that did!
conductive foam...very weird whats next sinking wood ,floating metal ,conductive glass,non flammable gasoline?
hahaha try lighting gasoline after it has been sitting on the pavement for 5 minutes. i tried and it didnt work :(<br/><br/>floating metal = boat/ship (already invented)<br/><br/>sinking wood = ebony (already, well, not invented but...)<br/><br/>and as for conductive glass; ------<br/><br/><a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.teralab.co.uk/Experiments/Conductive_Glass/Conductive_Glass_Page1.htm">http://www.teralab.co.uk/Experiments/Conductive_Glass/Conductive_Glass_Page1.htm</a><br/><br/>yeah, i know, im a smartass, but im bored and it is not even .5hours into 2009 lol<br/>
conductive gas?
Old radio tubes and television tubes are filled with gas. Electricity would jump through the gas from one metal part (Anode) to the other (Cathode).
I thought they had a vacuum in them, thus, the name: vacuum tubes.
Though I hate using wikipedia as a source "...an electrical signal by controlling the movement of electrons in a low-pressure space. Some special function vacuum tubes are filled with low-pressure gas." Vacuum tubes are generally a partial vacuum, whereas the existing gas inside is conductive.
Neon and fluorescent lights, not to mention mercury vapor.
Well i am fresh out of ideas...
neon lights?
now what...umm....underwater computer?
Submarines!!!!! um, those underwater-treasure-hunting-robot-things. <br/><br/>oh!! and this<br/><br/><a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.freepatentsonline.com/4658358.html">http://www.freepatentsonline.com/4658358.html</a><br/>
very cool, i recently made one of these type of nandsynths, combined with an 8 step sequencer based off the baby10, added a few features like lm386 high gain amp, int/ext clock, CV out, clock out, clock in, individual pulse outs, all on a bolt style patch bay, and called it the NB8.. <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.jnabeats.com/circuitbending/NB8.htm">http://www.jnabeats.com/circuitbending/NB8.htm</a><br/>
Awesome! Post some pictures of the internals, too! I really like the "wetness" of the raw sound you're getting, and the overall aesthetic of the device. You should also add some capacitive bends -- pairs of wires you can touch that "break" the circuit in weird ways. Long live nandsynths :)
i have to say, the LM386 is one of the nicest sounding, most organic gainy opamps, really contributes to overall liquidity of the tones you get when you push a lot of gain through the circuit! the TL072 is much more 'dry' &amp; clinical when compared. The only other one I've messed with is LM741 and its signature sound is somewhat in between the two, IMO. Yes.. should have included guts-shots.. but I have a nasty unprotected quad RC filter circuit just hanging out up top I need to tape up/shrinktube (when I 1st did, it grounded out).. should have put it on the board but ran out of room =[ <br/>
I haven't used the TL072, but I'd agree with your LM386 and LM741 assessments :) Best with the heatshrinking; messy or not, I'd still like to see some guts :)
It'd be cool if you hooked this up in a guitar signal chain and ran the guitar output through it and out the amp. There'd be some interesting sounds I'm sure
I've been messing around with this; I used on/off switches and pots instead of force sensing resistors. I like the way it sounds with random effects added:<br/><a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BMhaM8cBsF4">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BMhaM8cBsF4</a><br/>
Nice! Which layout did you use? It doesn't sound like they're all independent oscillators, but sometimes it's hard to tell the difference between other schematics.
My chip is the same chip as yours (same name, works the same) but loads smaller, and therfore is too small to fit on the breadboard. How can i get it on my breadboard? Help!
Could you post the name of the company that makes the chip, or a link to the datasheet? You could try a solderable protoboard instead.
[http://www.rapidonline.com/Electronic-Components/Integrated-Circuits/Logic/4000-Series-CMOS-logic-(surface-mount)/34486/kw/Quad%20NAND%20gate http://www.rapidonline.com/Electronic-Components/Integrated-Circuits/Logic/4000-Series-CMOS-logic-(surface-mount)/34486/kw/Quad%20NAND%20gate]Its on this page : <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.rapidonline.com/Electronic-Components/Integrated-Circuits/Logic/4000-Series-CMOS-logic-(surface-mount)/34486/kw/Quad%20NAND%20gate">http://www.rapidonline.com/Electronic-Components/Integrated-Circuits/Logic/4000-Series-CMOS-logic-(surface-mount)/34486/kw/Quad%20NAND%20gate</a><br/><br/>its the 4093<br/><br/>cheers<br/>
The issue is that you're using what's called a "surface mount" component, which can not be placed on a breadboard. You could solder wires to the individual pins, but I recommend you just but a through-hole 4093.
Cheers, i'm going to the store soon so i can see the parts - hopefully i wont buy the wrong one again.
could you use wire wool intstead of the conductive foam?It may work...
Only if the wire wool has a significant resistance. If you take a multimeter to two points separated by a half inch, and the resistance is a couple kiloohms, you're set.
Hihi funny project. Makes me want to plug the iron this afternoon... :-)
I'm not quite sure I understand the need of a NAND gate. Is it just to produce a square wave?

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