Before your first circuit-bending project,
if you've never used the equipment listed in the previous page before, buy and build a beginner's
electronic kit. An LED flasher, a digital clock, an integrated circuit
noise maker... anything that will familiarize you with soldering, wire
clipping and stripping, etc.... the basics of electronic circuit-building.
Reading a beginner's electronics book
is highly recommended. "Getting Started in Electronics" by Forrest Mims
Jr., and available at Radio Shack, is a good place to begin. There also
exists a small "Engineer's Notebook" series by the same author. These
handbooks get into more advanced subjects as well, but also cover the
basics of circuit construction in one or two early volumes.
Beginner's guides will explain nice-to-know
terms and cover how switches, potentiometers, resistors, capacitors,
LEDs and other components operate. Circuit-bending will eventually teach
all this, but it's much better to enter with a general understanding
of these basics that must fall outside the scope of this present writing.
So... how does circuit-bending
First, clip the smallest two metal jeweler's
screwdrivers in the alligator clips at the ends of the test lead. This
gives you a wire with a probe at each end, and is your most important
circuit-bending tool. (Obviously, a custom test lead with a permanent
probe at each end can be made for this job, as well as the elaborate
console described at the end of the tools section above).
Remove the back from the game or toy to
expose the circuitry.
Turn the device on and activate the sounds
(press keys/buttons, or tape/wedge in place to sustain sound production).
With the device MAKING A NOISE, press
the tip of one of the test lead's screwdrivers to a printed circuit
trace, component lead or integrated circuit pin. Keep this screwdriver
tip in place for the next step.
Now, with the other screwdriver at the
opposite end of the test lead, begin touching various parts of the circuitry
while listening for interesting changes in sound.
Electricity will follow the new course
you've provided with the lead. This may have no effect on the sound
at all. On the other hand, the audio effect may be outrageous.
Each time an interesting sound is created,
note with a marker directly on the circuit board the pair of points
that were connected to each other to create the sound.
Once the traveling end of the test lead
has explored the circuit's corners and all interesting connections have
been noted, place the stationary screwdriver tip on a new circuit point.
Again, the traveling end of the test lead
explores the rest of the circuit; interesting sound-changing connections
This process is repeated until the entire
circuit has been searched in such a manner.
Given a bit of luck, the circuit will
soon be marked with a number of potential connections discovered with
the test lead.
At this point, various choices face the
explorer in implementing the creative short-circuits discovered...