Noise makers

Thinking of doing a DIY project and making an ambient/general noise maker box to run through fx and sample for fun. something along the lines of this

Wondered if anyone on here has done anything similar. might stick some basic oscillators in it and stuff from the lookmumnocomputer videos. Anyone into DIY got some fun ideas?

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Nicolas Collins book, here has a wealth of really good info:

Also this is pretty handy:


I have a couple of homemade instruments.

A swarm box I made which is a metal enclosure with different size springs bolted to the top and a piezo mic attached inside.

I also have a floppy disk case that I’ve attached a piezo mic inside. I do stuff like drum on it wrap rubberbands around it the pull on and let them slap the box.

Last thing I do is I have a number of piezo mics attached to a rain stick. Get some great noises from it.

The key is piezo mics…


I received a draft version of this years ago when doing a hacking workshop with Nicolas at Steim. Great fun :smiley:

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One really simple thing to do is buy a cheap thumb piano/mbira/kalimba and solder a piezo to a jack plug, black wire to ground, red wire to tip, then tape the piezo onto the thumb piano, run it thru a big reverb, nice ambient plinky plonk!


I’ve used a pickup mic and an ebow to do something similar with an mbira - might have to try it again but through Thyme and/or t-resonator this time.

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Couple of my experiments:

I’ve done loads over the years, good fun and can often yield some interesting samples etc.


BTW if anyone wants to buy one of the Logic Noise boards in my first clip then I still have a couple left over, £20 plus post.

It allows you to make a bunch of oscillators etc, and can be built either into an instrument, or just used as I do as a kind of patchable (dupont cables) nasty techno drone doom groovebox kind of thing.

The original project is on hackaday:


These paper circuits always look like intriguing fun.

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Sure, i’d be up for it. How many are necessary or useful per project? Are there any other guides, BOMs for exploration?

Really only 1 is needed, depending on what you want to do, there was never a BOM created for it, but I made one based on how I built mine.

It has quite a few different sections:
40106 as 6 variable oscillators
40106 as 6 fixed (or variable if you add pots) oscillators
1 4040 divider
1 4051 8 channel analog multiplexer
1 4015 dual 4 stage shift register
1 VCA with decay EG
1 4017 10 way counter
8 ch Stereo fixed mixer
2 4 way Diode ORs
Analog bass drum
4 way buffer
4070 quad XOR gate
4 4 way mults
Stereo output with separate level control for each.

Here is a picture of my build, you do not need to build it the same way, for example unneeded sections can be omitted, I opted for headers to patch with dupont cables, but of course you can forgo these and hard wire it instead, depending on what you want to build/do with it.

Some examples could be a simple drone synth, some kind of weird groovebox, a drum sound generator or primitive drum machine. Depending on what additional circuitry you add of course.

The way I built mine is pretty basic, but I used pin headers for the capacitors too so that oscillator ranges can easily be changed, and it can be reconfigured easily to do most of the examples I listed above.

I eventually plan to build one into a case with just panel mounted controls rather than pcb mounted, and various patch point and probably a couple of filters, to make a kind of mini modular, all running off a 9v battery :wink:

It is probably worth looking at the hackaday articles for a better idea of what it can do.

Here are a few more of my noodlings:

It need not sound like that though, I have also made it do some very nice drone stuff as well, but no video clips of that.

I’d say it is a couple of hours build for a relatively competent solderer, it is pretty easy if you use all pcb mounted components.

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A friend made one of these for me, many years ago:

I’ve still got it somewhere, never thought of sampling it actually! I’ll have to find it and make some recordings.

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yeah man I was looking at a 20 set for like $5. gonna grab a bunch and stick them to everything. I saw a video of some guy making horror effects by sticking a contact mic inside a box and then dragging a rubber drum mallet on the outside, surprisingly crazy sounds

@DoS ebow is a nice idea, I was thinking of sticking a string on it I could use with a bow anyway. wonder if I could hook up some sort of ghetto electromagnet

@darenager nice one for the links, don’t know if the logic board thing is a bit deep for complete beginner. the most i’ve got into DIY is soldering jacks and outputs so far. quite interested in the whole thing though, I just don’t know anything about it. is it just a board and i’d need to source components? how complicated is it to figure it out and get it together?


piezos, outputs and potentiometers arrived in the post today. can anyone tell me if piezos will pick up vibrations from strings or if it has to be directly in contact with the surface? can buy a cheapo guitar pickup but i’ve already got these here. im assuming in the OP video he’s probably just got piezos stuck inside the box right? probably a dumb question

Piezos work best when in contact with a surface - this is the reason they’re called contact mics! But if you attached it to a resonant body with strings on, like an acoustic guitar, then you’d be able to hear something happening. Best thing to do is experiment! There’s already been some discussion in another thread, but it didn’t get very far: Soundbox DIY

Here’s a video showing a simple piezo-in-a-box construction:


Yeah this is why I was thinking it was a stupid question :smile: I’ve picked up an old briefcase from a thrift shop I’m planning on using, gonna cut a wood panel for the middle and I think I’m gonna have to drill some sound holes in it then. Hopefully it reverberates enough in that space to be effective