Introduction: "House of Oscillation" Optical Theremin

About: I make toys and electronic gadgets.

Welcome to the "House of Oscillation". When you move around inside the house, controllable RGB led's change color and synth bits make creepy noises. It's all very disturbing, and fun! The house has two walls, each of which have a proximity sensor, controllable RGB led, and an oscillator. The two oscillators combine sounds into a mix bit. Add more synth bits for more synthy effects.

Recently, launched their new bitLab, whereby users can submit their own hardware designs to be voted for by the community. If a module gets 1,000 votes, littleBits will consider & vet it for production as an official bit. This project features JackANDJude submitted bit, which needs your vote on Bitlab! (Voting has ended, and it did not get 1,000 votes.)

Step 1: Gather Parts & Tools

littleBits & modules used:
controllable RGB led x 2: instructions to make this module are here. Each will need a Proto Module. Theremin will work without this module, but will lack the awesome color change feature.

********* Vote for the controllable RGB led module to become a real bit!!*********

usb power x 1

split x 1

ir led x 2

light sensor x 2

oscillator x 2

speaker x 1

mix x 1

Other items:

Perler style, black fusible beads x 66 OR substitute by making 2 prints of this untested 3D proximity sensor clip. You can find fusible beads at craft stores like Michaels.

ironing paper (comes with Perler beads)

square peg board (comes with Perler beads)

small to medium sized rubber bands x 2

littleBits mounting board x 2



Step 2: Ir Proximity Sensor

Use fused beads and a rubber band to make two ir proximity sensors OR be the first to print the 3D printable version.

  • Arrange fuse beads on a pegboard according to the sketch. There should be two holes - one for the light sensor and one for the ir led.
  • Iron the fuse beads with ironing paper, following the Perler or other manufacturer's directions. Keep flat until cool so that it retains its shape. Iron the other side, too. It will no longer fit on the pegboard, so use any flat, heat resistant surface.

  • Line up the perler beads assembly so that the phototransistor on the light sensor can "see" through the top hole. Fasten the perler beads to the light sensor with a rubber band, as shown. Insert the 5mm ir led into the bottom hole from below. It should fit snugly. Now invisible ir light bounces from an approaching object onto the light sensor.

  • For demonstration purposes, I show a number bit as an output in the video.

  • Assemble this circuit for testing: power + ir led + light sensor (set to light mode)+ oscillator + speaker. As your hand approaches the "ir proximity sensor", the sounds from the speaker should change pitch.

  • Adjust sensitivity of the light sensor to suit your light environment so that the speaker does change pitch when you approach the circuit.

Step 3: Complete Assembly & Play

Assemble the beginning of the circuit:
power + split

Assemble 2 wall circuits onto 2 mounting boards:

"proximity sensor" (= ir led + light sensor) + controllable RGB led (set to color change mode)+ oscillator ... Set the oscillators at two different pitches, one low and one high. That way you can differentiate their two voices.

Snap the oscillators into the mix + speaker.

Walk your stuffed animals through the house. The lights will change colors and the sounds emanating from the speaker will change pitch. Jack likes to let his fingers do the walking while he laughs creepily. MWAHAHAHAHAAAAA!!

Halloween Decor Contest

Participated in the
Halloween Decor Contest

Tech Contest

Participated in the
Tech Contest

Formlabs Contest

Participated in the
Formlabs Contest