The Haunted House

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Circuit Bending Adventures Part 2

Today me and Amanda walked into town as Amanda wanted to get her hair cut. We couldn't drive as there was too much snow last night and getting off our estate, which is at the top of a steep hill, was too dangerous.

Whilst walking around the shops, I decided to look in one of the charity shops on the high street to see if they had any old childrens electronic toys. In Oxfam I found a toy called "My Little Talking Computer". I asked the lady behind the counter how much it was, expecting her to say 2 or 3 pounds, but she said 50p. Bargain!!!

Later in the afternoon I finished off the bend I was doing on the keyboard. This was a difficult machine to bend, and there isn't a huge amount you can do with it without crashing the onboard chips. I ended up with a pitch bending potentiometer, auto rythem kick in switch, high pass filter, and a drums distortion/glitch fuckerupa switch.

After this I took the back off the talking computer to have alook at the eletronics. The pcb for this device is quite small and mainly consits of resisters and capacitors, the main IC's are hidden away. I started probing with my test wires, and found 2 nice bends to start with. One is a harsh distortion / glitch / feedback inducer, and the 2nd was a more controlled glith, which also make the screen go slightly spastic depending on what volume you have set :-)

I then wired up a 1/4 inch jack connecter to the speakers, drilled all the relevent holes and mounted the swithces. There is probably loads more I can do with this device, but for the moment I am going to stop as my back and neck is hurting.

Talking toy with 2 switches under the apple.

Out of all the equipment you need for circuit bending, ie soldering irons, pliers, screw drivers etc, I think the most valuable tool I used today was a roll of celotape. It makes it so much easier to solder wires onto the legs of chips or resisters if you can tape down the leads first so they don't move. Otherwise you need 3 arms.

Once I had put the back on I did a sampling performace test into the computer so see what the signal sounds like at 24bits, and it sounded quite good. I do have a use for all these mad basterdised toys, and the end results should sound quite unique :-)

If anyone has any old electronic kids toys that they don't need because the kids have grown out of them, and you want rid of them to regain some space in the house, email me at In particular I am after any Yamaha PSS range keyboard, Casio SK-1, SK-5. Those strange saxaphone shaped toys with large colorful buttons on, and the similar guitar shaped toys.



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