circuit bending
exPlOrIng      tHe      arT

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 work?

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 are marked.

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...

Homepage           The Gallery           Featured Sections           Forums            Resources            Links           Contact           About
Copyright Oddmusic © 1999-2007