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.

  • Whisper = Want.

    It's perfect for boring meetings and too quiet study sessions.

  • BirdFLU

    Instead of a wristband, I would like this as a codpiece.

  • @BirdFLU: ha! I expect *someone* may have tried that with synth design at some point. Very doable. Go.

  • Codis

    That looks pretty awesome, I'd buy one right now if i knew where to get it. A fashion accessory and instrument, who would've thought.

  • Andrew Benson

    Unfortunately, not quite ready for sale, as I still need to work out the batter dilemma. Maybe I could make a kit if there is interest…

  • Andrew Benson


  • Jenbot

    There's interest!!

    I did send you an email, but just to stress how badly I want a Whisper….

    !! kit please !!

  • Neil

    I'm in if you're ever going to sell it! That's awesome! Would there be any problems with sweat causing short circuits?

  • Andrew Benson

    @ Neil, Well it's conceivable, if you sweat through 3 layers of fabric and a layer of felt, but you probably wouldn't do any real damage. It might even sound more interesting since the analog controls would go all haywire.

    BTW, I recently added a mini-out jack to the design and it spits out more than enough signal to power some headphones loudly. I imagine it could sound pretty great amplified as well.

  • Neil

    Well there's no excuse then, you have to make more and sell them (not for too much though!) đŸ™‚