S C O T T E R I C P E T E R S E N

Composer, electronic musician, improviser

El MuCo: Custom JankoTUne (KidTunes) Post-Evisceration Construction

Once the PC Picture Phone and the KidTUnes were eviscerated and frankensteined back together in a manner more aesthetically pleasing to both eye and ear, it was time to re-house the KidTunes.  The aesthetic of painted toy plastic is nauseating to both Scacinto and Kane so a plexiglass housing with stainless (when possible) hardware was decided upon to both provide working functionality and “playability.”  Additionally, we decided that we didn’t want the re-housed instrument to cover any of the modification or original circuitry, so plexi was the natural choice.

Here are a few pics of the guts of the two instruments, both completely torn from their original housings.

Guts

Guts

Splayed-out PC Picture Phone

Splayed-out PC Picture Phone

Splayed-out PC Picture Phone 2

Splayed-out PC Picture Phone 2

Splayed-out PC Picture Phone 3

Splayed-out PC Picture Phone 3

Here follows the construction of the JankoTUne instrument.  For the project we picked up three pieces of plexiglass (about 12 x 14”), a scoring tool, a few bags of 1” and 1.5” screws with nuts and washers, and two carriage bolts for the touch controls with two nuts and two washers apiece (so connections can be made simply by clamping the wire between the washers.)  Additional tools included a pair of snips, a drill with a number of different sized bits, a piece of scrap lumber, and some MuCo Majicke.  The snips are useful for just about everything from cutting molded plastic housings to metal screws and tiny annoying bits that keep your potentiometer from laying flush against the plexiglass.

This first picture shows the keyboard/main circuit which has been mounted onto the plexiglass with three 1” screws with 1/2” 6-32 spacers (1” spacers we cut in half with the snips.)  In the front, we used two 1” screws with spacers as supports only as there were not mounting holes on the front of the circuit board and we didn’t want to risk drilling them from scratch.  The holes at the back of the board did have to be bored-out a little for the screws to fit without risking cracks.

KidTunes Main Board Mounted

KidTunes Main Board Mounted

KidTunes Main Board Mounted 2

KidTunes Main Board Mounted 2

Next we mounted the switch circuit using the same method as the main board.  The drill bit size for this sort of thing should be, as with other projects, just slightly smaller than the size of the screw.

KidTunes Switches Mounted

KidTunes Switches Mounted

Here is the back of the board showing the first two mounted circuit boards.

KidTunes Underneath

KidTunes Underneath

This shot shows Kane fitting on the potentiometer onto the control panel.  The control panel piece of plexiglass was from the same piece of plexi as the main body.  We scored the glass 3-5 times and it snapped easy-peasy and clean.  The control panel is mounted on with 1.5” screws and 1” spacers with nuts.

KidTunes Mounting Component Panel

KidTunes Mounting Component Panel

KidTunes Mounted Component Panel

KidTunes Mounted Component Panel

Here is the finished control panel with potentiometer, two switches for stacatto and legato (sustain), two 1/8” audio jacks for connecting a speaker and running audio out to a mixer/computer, and the two carriage bolts in the foreground which act as touch controls so we don’t have to fidget with the actual board as much.  The touch controls are really reactive and vary much more than simply touching the wire connections.  Touching the top versus the side, and even moving around the surface all changes the resulting sound.

KidTunes Mounted Component Panel 2

KidTunes Mounted Component Panel 2

KidTunes Mounted Component Panel 3

KidTunes Mounted Component Panel 3

(Kane says: just to give a bit of info on what all the doodads are going to do (from left to right, top to bottom), 1) a megapot which replaced the timing resistor, 2) two mini-jacks for speakers, lines-out, whathaveyou, 3) switches to turn on and off “sustain” mode and “staccato” mode, and 4) two customs touch nodes–aka, the jTouch©, just to get all proprietary and jCapitalist on you–which add extra tastiness to the sound.)

Showing off…

Scacinto with the almost-finished JankoTUne

Scacinto with the almost-finished JankoTUne

JankoTUne Almost Complete

JankoTUne Almost Complete

And now follows a few words of caution for anyone who would attempt a project like this.  First, protective eyewear is your friend.  Working with drills and plexiglass eventually = flying shards of sharp nastiness.  Second, when working the plexiglass, especially smaller pieces which are more likely to snap/crackle/pop, be sure that you support the entire piece of plexi when you are working with it to reduce chance of breakage.  When drilling plexi, use the smallest bit possible and lay the plexi flat on a piece of scrap wood, or two pieces (supporting either side of the drill hole.)  When the bit is too big, the plexi can get caught and chunk or break off around the drill hole.  Go easy on the pressure and high on the speed of the drill — too much pressure and the plexi will a) crack, or b) the bit can gouge chunks out of the board (on the backside of the drill direction.)  As always, patience is a virtue.  Take your time, measure twice, drill once.*

*All of this advice is true and sound: we didn’t take any of it and injury, breakage and sadness abounded!

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Handmade instruments by Scott Petersen and Brian Kane at Artspace New Haven

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