Here’s a video I made of my first proper hack. It’s one of the simplest hacks you can make to any toy, simply changing the clock speed to make it run faster or slower. In this example I have soldered two cables to the circuit board, and the connection is made through the resistance of my body. I am able to vary it by pressing harder and softer on the ends of the wires.
Below is my short explanation on youtube:
Here we have a magic eight ball-style decision making toy that cycles through various options when shook. I have hacked it by making a connection between two points on the circuit board. By using my own body as the clock resistor, I can alter the speed (and therefore pitch) by changing the pressure put by my fingers on the two bare wires. As you can see, if the resistance is too low it will just completely stop. I have also added an off switch, so that I can shut it up.
I didn’t realise it at the time, but I managed to strike gold pretty early on in this project, with a toy yamaha keyboard that I’d had in the house for years. Unfortunately It was broken – when turned on, it just played one note constantly like a siren and wouldn’t shut up. I decided to open it up and have a look.
With careful, close consideration I discovered that I was totally incompetent and probably wouldn’t be able to fix it. But when I experimented with it, I noticed that making a connection between two points not only stopped the siren but caused something much more amazing to happen.
Making this connection had a totally random, bizarre effect, causing the toy to behave erratically. Listen to the audio here:
Unfortunately, for some inexplicable reason, this keyboard now appears to be broken beyond repair. However, I have found another very similar Yamaha Toy Keyboard at the car boot sale that I am yet to open up. I’m hoping that it will have a similar “madness button”.
For the next few months I will be talking a lot about my Project. I spent the first couple of weeks at University coming up with the Project Proposal and finding an appropriate supervisor. For the full project proposal, click here.
For the short version, read on. For the even shorter version, just take a look at this picture –>
Actually, that photo is of a microphone and tape loop setup, but the principle is roughly the same.
Basically I am interested in Chiptune music. This is where the sounds from old video games consoles are used to create modern music. By using Circuit bending techniques (learned primarily from Nicholas Collins’ Handmade Electronic Music and Rheed Ghazala’s Circuit-Bending) I am spending a lot of my time opening up toys and games and making unusual sounds with them. I am also looking into other types of Chiptune how other techniques for creating retro sounds.