Artwork DIY DIY with kids

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:


DIY: The WEALTH AUTOPORTABLE homemade Ipod dock!

I came across a cool tutorial over at Instructables yesterday, for using an old AM/FM radio as an amplifier for your ipod or other portable audio device, and decided to give it a whirl.

So this is the old radio I will use:
Ipod "dock" from 50s radio

Cool huh! It came with the house when we bought it from my childrens great grandparents. I couldn’t find any dates stamped on it, but I do get the feeling that it is from the fifties. Could be mistaken about that :)

And I do believe it is an “Autoportable” of the world reknown WEALTH brand :) I wonder if they went out of business or changed the name. Must remember to Google them. Or not, I kind of like the idea of Wealth going out of business permanently :)

Ipod "dock" from 50s radio

Shot from the back. Just four screws away from fun and games! This is actually the part I like best about fiddling with electronics.

Ipod "dock" from 50s radio

God dammit this radio is OLD. The circuits on the circuit board is buildt up THICK, and it looks like it has been done by hand! Respect! It is surprisingly dust free in here, but there seem to have been some acid damage from old batteries once upon a time, so I did a little cleanup.

The white thread that criss-crosses is connected to the tuner knob.

Ipod "dock" from 50s radio

Doing a little “circuit-bending” while I’m at it. In this picture the green aligator clip hits the spot where I got the most amplification of the audio (compared to hooking it up directly to the speaker). I would like more boost to the signal, but I can’t get access to the radios amplifier without taking off the top and taking out the circuit board completely, and I am worried that I would do irreparable damage if I tried. There is a real danger that SOMETHING will snap, a solder joint, a cable, or the string connected to the tuner. Can’t risk it!

The white aligator clip is actually connected to the audio output jack (for the headphones. Easy!

These are the two points I ended up soldering the wires to, but I tested out alot of different “bend points”, that is points on the circuit that created interesting shortcuts = weird audio effects. But this isn’t a circuit-bending project (and my girlfriend is about to murder me), so I will just solder it all up and call it a day.

The original solder is layered on so thick that all I have to do is apply enough heat to melt the solder. This actually took a while, but I managed to work my thin cables down into the solder.

I then put the other ends of the cables out though the hole for the headphone jacks, and soldered an audio jack to it (after testing and smiling alot).

Ipod "dock" from 50s radio


It is said that god lives in the details. Well, then god ain’t been anywhere near this audio jack! I took it from an old dvd-rom I had laying around. For some reason I had problems desoldering it from the board, so I just cut the board with a pair of pliers, and ripped it out. I guess I could make this prettier some day when I have the parts.

Also note that I didn’t cut any new holes in the radio, I simply used the existing Ear-phone jack which as a hole straight through. The observant reader might also wonder why I didn’t just use rewire the air phone jack allready in the radio! Well, because I like old things. Alot. And I would like the things I do to them to be as reversible as possible. If this had been a crappy, new shitbox of a radio, I would have whacked it with a hammer, spraypainted it, put it on fire, filmed it and called it art :).

Ipod "dock" from 50s radio

All done! Ok, so I am not testing with an Ipod, I only wrote that to be fancy. No not really, the Ipod just got a new update, so it’s reformatting itself and getting new firmware + transferring 40 gb og crap back onto its shiny hard drive, so a portable cd player will have to do. This JVC cd-player is fantastic, it is my first one, bought with one of my very first pay checks (summer job, washing floors) over 20 years old, and it simply refuses to die! Maybe they knew how to make things more solid in the 80s?

I filmed this with my Nokia N95, so the quality is not that good, but at least you get an idea of what it looks and sounds like.

After filming this I switched to the Ipod, but was a little dissapointed because there was quite a drop in volume. A little fiddling with the EQ on the ipod improved the sound a little, but even when cranking the ipod up all the way I couldn’t quite get the same volume or depth of sound as I got from the JVC. I guess the JVC output signal is better amplified…

This is just a fast hack, it basically just connects the ipod directly to the speaker (but with a little extra juice from the radio circuit added). I really wanted to try to connect the ipod to a spot between the radios tuner and the radios amplifier. Right now the radios volum control has no effect on the radio.

The reason I didn’t do it properly? It was getting late (around 00:30), and I was afraid I would damage the ancient circuit board or the fragile string that was connected to the radios tuner dial. I had to basically take everything apart if I wanted access to the components on the other side, so I think I will put that off to a later time.

I took the radio to bed with me (after waking up the missus to get her admiration of course :) and listened to the sweet tunes of Anthony and the Johnsons until I fell asleep.

When I woke up, the house was still here, no shortcircuits or fires :)

= Big success.

NRK Webdesign Webdev

New mixtape feature on Urørt.no

We are doing a soft launch of a new feature on Norwegian music demo site Urørt.no (nrk.no/urort for those lacking ÆØÅ), namely the option to create you own mixtapes. Each mixtape can contain 20 songs, selected from the over 57000 unsigned mp3s uploaded by the 22000 bands on the site, and you can share it with friends by sending them to Urørt, or by embedding the player in your own website, like this:

Gå til Urørt for å lage din egen miksteip

A while back we also took the time to contact facebook to have them add our domain nrk.no to their Share Partner program, which was necessary to be able to automatically embed flash in their site, when you use the facebook share feature.

Oh, and every mixtape also comes in the form of a podcast rss so you don’t have to manually download each track if you want to keep all the songs on your harddrive or you ipod.

So if you are like new music and like showing it off, then head on over and create an account.

ur�iksteip screenshot