Tiny sound devices

This tiny DIY gadget gets me out of the house as well…

Lite2Sound PX is a portable sensing device that extracts audio from ambient light. Not a synthesizer, more like a microphone that detects a hidden layer of your environment.

Lite2Sound reveals unusual sounds by responding to rapid but invisible changes in brightness. A sensitive amplifier boosts this information to audio level and delivers it to your headphones or line input, and can drive a speaker directly with its built-in 1-watt amp.

Beyond the ubiquitous mains hum transmitted by lighting, and the static hiss of sunlight, you can find many sounds of different character being produced by high technology.

In technology-saturated spaces, musical chords emerge and fade as luminous sources harmonize together into unintended soundscapes.

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Love mine, this was one of my all time favourite demo videos https://vimeo.com/11885641

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From Russia with love…

Yet another gizmo for my forays into the urban jungle…


ETHER is a kind of anti-radio. Instead of being tuned to a specific radio station, it receives all the interference and radiation that a traditional radio tries to eliminate in order to create a clean signal. It captures the radio waves “as is” from hertz to gigahertz because it doesn’t contain the tuned input circuit that filters out all frequencies except the narrow band of a specific station. This allows ETHER to perceive the invisible electromagnetic landscape that humans created unintentionally, making possible live electromagnetic field listening and recording.

As the inspiration for this project, I took the design of the very first radios (early 1900s) that had no tuning wheel. At this time there weren’t many radio stations, and all of them used Morse code. It was possible to distinguish each transmitter by ear, as each one had its own specific timbre or “voice”.

Also, we have to mention the earliest pioneer of electromagnetic fields art investigations – Christina Kubisch.

ETHER is pocket-sized (103x58x17mm) and light-weight (73g with batteries). It consumes very little power and runs on two AAA batteries. How long it can run on two batteries is unclear, because I still use the very same set of alkaline batteries I put into the first ETHER prototype 6 years ago! (yes the project has taken 6 years). All I can definitely say is that battery life is more than 300 hours if you using alkaline or lithium batteries.

We paid special attention to the design of ETHER, as it’s intended to be a unique accessory for the conscious modern human. We used special designed enclosures made in Europe and high-quality PCB and furniture providing long life and high reliability. So with ETHER, you get both a unique sound experience and a cool-looking high-quality gizmo.

ETHER has both magnetic and electric components for sensing radiation. For the magnetic component, it has a built-in magnetic antenna, like the ones used in old long-wave radios. The antenna has maximum sensitivity on ETHER’s axis. By changing the orientation, angle and position of ETHER, you will change the sound. For the electric component, it has antennas printed on the PCB and the special input pins placed on the anterior surface.

ETHER V2 has two external antenna pins. You can touch any conductive material or surface (including your body) with the pins and use objects or yourself as a big external antenna! Often it makes a totally different sound and I love to check out different metal objects on a street (rails, tubes, metallic doors, parts of buildings etc.) Two pins are connected to different points of the circuit and interact differently with electromagnetic waves. Switching from one to another or using them both, you can change the sound. Far away from a city, we recommend trying to use a piece of wire 1-4 meters long connected to one of the pins for getting some interesting sound.

ETHER V2 has two wheels for sound control and the power switch. The upper wheel adjusts the amount of high-frequency amplification and regeneration. The lower wheel is the volume. By adjusting high-frequency gain you can focus ETHER on different dynamical levels of surround interferences getting the richest and interesting sound.

ETHER is not just an inductive sniffer like some projects you can easily find online. A simple low-frequency inductive sniffer will be silent in most places that are full of sounds in the video. Such devices need to be placed close to an emitting source and will not work on a street. All they contain is a coil and a low-frequency amplifier. In comparison, ETHER has a regenerative circuit and a demodulator, making it an actual radio wave receiver, not just an amplifier of low-frequency magnetic fields. However, ETHER can perceive the low-frequency magnetic fields as well. But, honestly, if your goal is to scan objects in close proximity (0-20 centimeters), a simple inductive sniffer will work cleaner and more focused due to its narrow band and lower sensitivity. ETHER was designed to be a part of your walks in the city and may even pick up sounds in a forest or at the seashore (I have such experience). Also, ETHER can perceive the electric component of the radiation as well, capturing radiation that is far above the audio range and is much more sensitive. Therefore, it has a significantly different design, functions and implementation than a simple inductive sniffer even if in some cases their functions can overlap.

The output of ETHER is a regular 3.5mm headphones’ stereo jack with L and R contacts connected in parallel (ETHER has a mono out).

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The Ether is a really cool device. I’ve only had mine for a few weeks but I’ve been taking everywhere I go (which is easy enough to do considering it’s really small and battery operated.)

While I often have to search out sounds that aren’t your typical radio static, I usually find something unique every time I use it. The other day I picked up this very rhythmic industrial sound (kinda moog dfam) in a small section of an open field that was no wider than 6x6 feet. Moving my Ether ever so slightly would cause subtle shifts in the sound’s harmonics (almost like sweeping a bandpass filter) and sometimes add this chirp that emphasized the sound’s rhythm. The richness and nuance of the sound was really surprising.

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… and I couldn`t forget this little guy:


Elektrosluch Mini City is a DIY kit from Elektrosluch, an open-source device for electromagnetic listening. It allows one to discover sonic worlds of electromagnetic fields, surrounding our every step.


Here`s a nifty techno track (made by Andrew Philippov), using only the Elektrosluch Mini CITY as a sound source:

https://soundcloud.com/andrewphilippov/andrew-philippov-electromagnetic-sourse-from-electrosluch-mini-city

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Had fun with this little setup tonight. Most devices here have already been mentioned.

However the device on the far left is worth a mention. It’s Glitch storm from Spherical sound society. An Arduino based C-sound synth.

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played with this fun combo the other night: bastl kastle drum processed through wingie resonators and nts-1 ensemble/tape/hall effects. the cable mess is bigger than the devices themselves, need to find some super short usb adapter cables - only kastle takes batteries, and each requires a different usb connection (C, mini B, micro B).

https://www.instagram.com/p/CNi9SJ1ha-z

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Softpop sounds great, really wish I grabbed on when they were still available.

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Looking at all of these… I have a craving. Does anyone make a kit I can make with my 8 year old son that doesn’t involve a shed ton of soldering? I can solder, some say I’m highly adept at it. But I don’t get much time for such things.

The NTS-1 requires no soldering and is pretty easy to assemble. I got my daughter one for xmas and she enjoyed putting it together more than playing with it. :joy:

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Hey, have a look at https://www.rakits.co.uk/ They are preparing kits and are supposedly opening again soon. The mini atari punk console kit only has a few components and is good fun. Later if you like, there’s a baby 8 sequencer that can control the punk console with CV but also works with Eurorack too. (the mixer pictured in my post further up is from there)

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How about a Korg LittleBits? I’ve done the LittleBits space rover with my 7 year old daughter and it was great, really engaging for both of us.
The synth kit looks good. Definitely on my list of things to do with the kids.

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Fwiw these bad boys are back in stock! Exciting news if you’ve been waiting for one forever like me.

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When it is dwarfed by a Volca I think it most definitely wins the Tiny contest
image

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20 chars of omg so tiny

tiny Piezothing creates beautiful feedback, especially bending timpani tuning & skin tension… lovely lag!

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a villainous bass sound pops out.

sold :smiley:

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Oh I want one of these really badly now! Were they only available direct?

SN74HC163N 4-bit counter as a friend for Kastle 1.5. A 1-pole low-pass filter and a vactrol low-pass gate too. Most grounds floating for good chaos energy and NTS-1 on reverb duty.

I have no idea what I’m doing ¯\(ツ)/¯ but loads of fun.

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Do you have any tricks for making it squeal less? Love mine, but it needs some really fine maneuvering sometimes to get the sound in control.