Our first module, based on a cascaded square-wave oscillator from Nicolas Collins’ Handmade Electronic Music, which I highly recommend you pick up if you’re interested in any sort of DIY audio electronics – it’s totally worth it. Here’s a link to Collins’ website – I won’t elaborate too much on the circuit itself, since you really should read the book, but here’s a brief rundown of how it works: it revolves around an integrated circuit called a 4093, which is a NAND gate – apologies for the technical term, if you know any sort of boolean logic, it’s a term that stands for nor-and, and is typically reserved for simple digital computations. In this case, we’re mis-using the chip and converting it into a simple square-wave oscillator using a minimal amount of components – with a slight twist. In the case of a 4093, each gate (there’s 4 on each chip) has two inputs – one that can be used to carry a signal and one that can be used to trigger the signal on and off. If you daisy-chain all 4 gates to trigger and modulate each other, you get some pretty neat sounding results – definitely highly recommended as a first project for anyone interested in functional audio electronics, or perhaps taking a step around the perennial Atari Punk Console, which, while a good circuit, lacks slightly in expansion. Sorry, rambling. If you know me, you know I’m prone to that. Either way, this is what we started with and it seemed to serve as a decent gateway to what came next, albeit with a couple modifications to allow for external voltage control and gestural control via photoresistors. Take a minute to read a bit about the circuitry, maybe watch a few videos and if the spirit moves, download the directions and take a stab at this. If you get stuck, there’s oodles of documentation on the web about this circuit on the web (all TicoTronics circuits are based off open-source designs) and if you feel like you’re getting stuck, drop me a line and I’ll talk you through it – in all, it’s not that heavy a build – you CAN do it.
Ok, enough preluding – here’s a quick video of our first build – below that’s our instructions – enjoy and good luck!