Percussa micro super signal processor

Tired of all those DIY electronics projects making an awful racket? This one is whisper-quiet. You may have to turn up your volume to hear it at all.

Project creator Andrew Benson (maker of many wonderful things for Cycling ’74) writes:

I just finished sewing together an FM synthesizer that lives on a wristband and is controlled by a little brown button that serves as a knob and a pair of small pressure sensors made from conductive fabrics. The whole thing runs off of an attiny45 chip, which is a really cheap AVR microcontroller chip that I’ve programmed with some FM synthesis routines.

It is a quiet little noise-maker, and is super fun to play with. All of the electronic connections (except for the little hand-routed PCB) are made using conductive thread. I’m still working on some finishing touches like strengthening the weak points with embroidery and providing slightly better protection for the circuit, but the functionality is all there. Let me know what you think!

Project blog post
Flickr set
More YouTube videos (this and other crazy projects)

As it happens, one of my favorite projects from the spring ITP show at New York University was the Square Band by Rory Nugent:

A wearable, portable square-wave synthesizer designed to be worn around the wrist so that he or she can be musically expressive whenever the moment strikes them.

Rows of buttons run along the underside of the wearer’s wrist for triggering of musical tones and a light sensor is available for shifting the pitch of the tones being played. This design allows for a form of musical expression that integrates itself very intimately with the human body. Tapping with the fingers plays tones and movement of the wrist and arm shifts these tones in pitch up and down.

Square Band @ ITP NYU Show Page
Rory Nugent Blog
As seen by our inestimable friend Collin Cunningham at the MAKE: blog

Solar panels? Fun, simple beat making? I’m sold.

Whether this appeals to you or not, you can bet that the growing availability, cheapness, and ease-of-use of small microprocessors will mean synths everywhere. Could be even cooler than that Dick Tracy wrist phone, after all.