First Soft Circuits Open Lab

soft circuits open lab

This Sunday we're holding our first Soft Circuits Open Lab at the School of Fine Arts in Lisbon (FBAUL - Faculdade de Belas Artes de Lisboa). There is no predefined structure for the event. We will meet for the course of one day with the purposes of sharing knowledge, experimenting freely, advancing on-going projects, and just having fun working together. Some of the people attending will be specialists in electronics and others in textiles. Barcamp style impromptu presentations are very welcome.

Altlab will provide some basic tools such as pliers, scissors, soldering irons, ironing board, etc. But participants must bring all the materials and additional equipment necessary for their own projects/experiments (including laptops). Here are some suggestions: any kind of fabric, needles and thread, yarn, t-shirts, conductive and/or resistive fabric, conductive thread, conductive and/or resistive yarn, knitting and/or crochet needles, LEDs, coin cell batteries, battery holders, EL wire, strands of fiber optics, copper foil, copper adhesive track, aluminum foil, resistive foam, regular foam, arduinos (lilypad or any other kind). If you've never worked with any of these materials and don't have them handy, come anyway, you can help someone else with their project and learn along the way.

For more information on soft circuits techniques and materials, check out the Soft Circuits Resources section on the openMaterials wiki.

This open lab will take place on February 21st, from 10:30 to 18:30, at the School of Fine Arts in Lisbon, room 307, 1st floor (since our own space is still under construction). All are welcome, there is no fee nor registration, but please do let me know if you are planning on coming: catarinamota(at)audienciazero.org

Circuit Bending

Hel­lo “intre­nets” people(s)

This post today reflects a lit­tle about  what cir­cuit ben­ding and diy are.

I have many fri­ends and col­le­a­gues  asking me “-So what is cir­cuit ben­ding?”, well here goes the awser and a bit of the his­tory behind cir­cuit bending.

Seems that a guy cal­led Reed Gha­za­la, was making expe­ri­ments with some synthe­si­zers, trying to get some more sounds out of the elec­tro­nic ins­tru­ments, so he deci­ded to open one and poke the guts of the beast .

He soon  finds out that the core of an elec­tro­nic ins­tru­ment its a lot of fun and this could be exci­ting discover.

Now…have you ever heard of the Savant syn­dro­me ?  a per­son who as Savant Syn­dro­me have the abi­lity of mixing emo­ti­ons, like seeing num­bers in a wide vari­ety of colors or the alpha­bet in sha­pes and forms, the cau­se of this, its sim­ply the brain and some short fuses in some are­as, and this its exac­tly what Cir­cuit ben­ding is.

So, when Reed deci­ded to explo­re the pos­si­bi­lity of the short cir­cuit he open a big door for expe­ri­men­tal music and a new form of seeing elec­tro­nic devi­ces, the idea its sim­ply bril­li­ant, lets open some toys, synths, pedals (wha­te­ver) and lets start to take some really cool sounds out of it, and the bril­li­ant part is : you don’t need to know about elec­tro­nics or be a geek who spent all day in the gara­ge (myself inclu­ded), becau­se cir­cuit ben­ding its like a a brain in short fuse.

What you need to cir­cuit ben­ding some stuff ?  This is another ques­ti­on and an impor­tant one. Hummm lets see:

First, you will need some kind of devi­ce that pro­du­ces sound, like a toy, a dis­tor­ti­on pedal, an old synth just to name a few.

Second, this is the impor­tant part DON’T USE ANYTHING THAT CONNECTS DIRECTLY TO THE AC/DC POWER, this means DEATH, ins­te­ad use bat­te­ri­es, all kinds of bat­te­ri­es and even trans­for­mers as long you don’t tou­ch that evil 220 V you are in business .

Third, open your devi­ce and cho­o­se your method of ope­ra­ti­on, this could be done in a vari­ety of ways, you could use your fin­gers with a lit­tle of sali­va (ughhh), or two screw dri­vers con­nec­ted by an alli­ga­tor clip.

Four, explo­re and see if the devi­ce reacts to your tou­ch poking some cir­cuits, i often get some gre­at results poking the chips legs and con­nec­ting them together, fin­ding the cool points its fun so don’t give up if you don’t find something in the first 5 minutes.

Five, ohh the “intre­nets” yes there’s a lot in here just sear­ch a bit and you will find your­self in a brand new world, of cour­se the cir­cuit ben­ding com­mu­nity its open min­ded and fri­en­dly, so don’t be shy and ask ques­ti­ons (most of us don’t know what are doing so join the club).

Now you know were Beck, Madon­na, Mike Pat­ton and many others are get­ting they ins­pi­ra­ti­on (yeah that’s right Madon­na), the musi­cal pos­si­bi­lity are immen­se, just think  is you, who  are dis­co­ve­ring your own sounds and making it at the same time (not like a pat­ch in a synthe­si­zer ) something really new and fresh made enti­rely  by you.

So,  what is Cir­cuit Bending ?

PAPERduino’s design

This is a fully func­ti­o­nal ver­si­on of the Ardui­no. We eli­mi­na­ted the PCB and use paper and card­bo­ard as sup­port and the result is.. the PAPERduino 😀

This is the the first ver­si­on of the layout design, next we will try more designs, and other mate­ri­als. You just need to print the top and the bot­tom layouts, and glue them to any kind of sup­port you want. We hope that you start making your own boards. If you do, ple­a­se sha­re your pho­tos with us, we would love to see them 😉

The­re is no USB direct con­nec­ti­on, so to pro­gram the paper­dui­no you will need some kind of FTDI cable or adap­ter. One of this pro­ducts will be fine:
FTDI cable from Ada­fruit Industries
FTDI adap­ter from Sparkfun

Down­lo­ad PDF

Com­po­nents list:
1 x 7805 Vol­ta­ge regulator
2 x LEDs (dif­fe­rent colors)
2 x 560 Ohm resis­tors (betwe­en 220oHm and 1K)
1 x 10k Ohm resistor
2 x 100 uF capacitors
1x 16 MHz clock crystal
2 x 22 pF capacitors
1 x 0.01 uF capacitor
1 x button
1 x Atmel ATMega168
1 x soc­ket 28 pin
Fema­le and Male headers

Ins­truc­ti­ons:
Use a nee­dle to punc­tu­re the holes for your components.

Don’t rush, pla­ce one com­po­nent after another and do all the sol­der work carefully.

Fol­low the con­nec­ti­on lines.

And this should be the final look of your paper­dui­no connections.