Electrolier (September night in Virginia)

A project log for Hacking Nature’s Musicians

An artistic ecosystem of analog electronic sound generators

Kelly HeatonKelly Heaton 10/20/2018 at 18:304 Comments

I've been working around the clock to finish my Hackaday Prize application and pack for Hacking Nature's Musicians in Mexico. As closure for my recent chapter, the various circuits that I've shown you over the past few weeks have migrated from my bench and into a sculpture titled "Electrolier (September night in Virginia)," 2018. Here is an informal video:

The video quality isn't great... (shot with my iPhone under bad lighting and extremely messy studio)... but hopefully you get the idea (see second video below). The sculpture contains one instance of my Mother Nature board design, recognizable by the dense tangle of white wires connecting logic gates, and six sound generating "animal circuits" each with its own speaker. The colorful graphics are spray painted cardboard, and everything is hung on a tree structure under a moon (globe pendant bulb). Oh, and that large moth is made out of silk velvet that I dyed and embroidered with an old industrial "Ultramatic" machine. I would have used small molex-style connectors to connect everything, but there was just no time.

It's interesting that so many long wires didn't screw up my signals. I credit this to my use of common emitter amplifiers to buffer the signals, and the fact that I'm not drawing much current for anything you see (or hear). The whole sculpture is powered with a 12VDC / 1.5 amp power supply. I also used multiple 0.1 uF ceramic capacitors between power and ground on most of the individual perfboards. It's critical to remember power-ground capacitors when you're dealing with a lot of amplified signals banging on your power rails. I'm careful to avoid really small gauge wire, and I add many pathways to ground ("let ground abound.")

So... now I am packing my electronics bench into a suitcase and praying that security does not detain me at the airport. I'm throwing in packets of desiccant and crossing my fingers that jungle humidity doesn't zap everything. Making analog electronic circuits in the jungle will be interesting to say the least -- stay tuned for the sounds of los músicos de la naturaleza en Quintana Roo!


Kelly Heaton wrote 10/21/2018 at 01:16 point

I find it profoundly reassuring that nature’s musicians will prevail over hell and high water.

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Dr. Cockroach wrote 10/20/2018 at 19:22 point

Wow, that is wonderful and it made my wife homesick for the mountains. We lived in Damascus Va for several years :-)

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Kelly Heaton wrote 10/20/2018 at 21:33 point

Thanks so much! Sorry to make your wife homesick... rural Virginia is a special place and easy to miss. Next Spring, I hope to tackle the insane chorus of frogs that makes our atmosphere palpably vibrate :-)

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Dr. Cockroach wrote 10/20/2018 at 23:03 point

Insane is right, Their sound won out over hurricane Florence at the peak of its winds and that's saying something on how powerful those little fogs are in producing sound :-)

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