Make a contact microphone and use resonant materials to create an electro-acoustic instrument that you can plug into an amplifier or effects pedals. You can also combine this project with the teensy or pretty much any of the projects below to make interesting hybrid and sculptural instruments.
Square Wave Synthesizers
This is an introduction to generating sound and light using integrated circuits called hex schmitt triggers. Each chip can output six square wave oscillators, which can be amplified, tuned, and modulated using basic components. This project can be expanded in sculptural ways and/or added to with sequencing and audio processing modules.
Teensy Micro Worlds
This next module uses standard MIDI messages to communicate between a Teensy microcontroller and a computer, taking sensory information from the physical world and mapping it to processes and events on a computer. It can also be used to send messages from the computer to control things in the physical world, like LEDs and small motors.
Laser cutters allow us to manipulate material in ways that would be impossible or prohibitively time intensive using traditional approaches. There are a few different ways of using a laser (vector, raster, and color mapping to name a few). The results are highly accurate and finely detailed and while these technologies have been around for a couple of decades, only recently have they become accessible/affordable for individual artists and designers.
This idea is not new (try an image search for “Suitcase Speakers“) but making your own amplifier is an affordable way to create portable, battery powered, personalized speakers to compose with. You can find a broad range of tutorials online discussing how to make suitcase speakers, from simple to advanced projects. We’ll start with a simple design and you can expand on it as you see fit. In making your speaker you will learn about soldering and electronics, basic signal processing, and woodworking.