DIY: My first «acoustic laptop»

My first piezo-instrument

A picture of my first experiment with creating an acoustic laptop, which basically is miked wooden box with a interesting soundgenerating objects inside.

Really easy to make, all you need is a piezo element (you’ll find them in those cheap birtdaycards that play music, or you can order them online.

The piezo element is soldered to a headphone jack and then glued to a wooden box. Plug the box into an amp, I used my guitar amp, and you’re all set.

Video: Acoustic laptop in action

Lydeksperimentklubben 14.12.10 from Arnfinn Killingtveit on Vimeo.

When used in this way the piezo turns into a really sensitive «microphone». If you stroke a feather over the wooden box, you will hear it as clearly as if you did the same inside you ear, it is quite exiting the first time you try it!

The piezo works by picking up vibrations and turning them into electrical signals, so the fun part is finding interesting objects to put in the box, like I have here. Springs and rubber bands are obvious choces, but the fun part is just rummaging through drawers looking for weird stuff and trying them out.

Here are some of the things I tried in my box:

-Pink wine bottle cap with a heart on a spring. Makes a deep and rytmical sound when you hit it with you finger. Sawed off and glued to the bottom of the box.
– Two rubber bands, creates a melodic bass sound.
– Large metal spring, has a very deep metallic sound, scratch it hard with your nails and it’s almost like a bass guitar with extreme fuss.
– Brass lion face, sounds like a bass drum when you tap it carefully.
– Three needles, simply pressed into a joint of the wood. These are my favorites, they have different tone depending on how far into the wood you press them, and rings almost like glass when you pick them with your nails.
– Wind up toys! These where a huge success, creating rythm and drama. You can eighter just let them loose, or hold them in your hand and touching them to the different objects.
– Electric cappuccino mixer. This was really a must, it gives you control and is also really loud as you let it vibrate next to an object! Must be heard to be believed!

I had so much fun making these, hope you’ll try it too!

Will try to put up some audio or video soon.

A little less clutter:
flickkah

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