by littleBits October 24, 2013
This electronic instrument uses a winning combination of Synth modules starting with a keyboard, moving through 2 oscillators, the envelope, the filter, the delay, and ending up with the speaker! Plug in to exterior speakers to rock out super loud!
Note: This project can be made in a variety of ways! The instructions below are for a more complicated version. For an easier version that uses common household materials, see instructions from the Synth Kit Booklet (pp.30-31)
Videos and Recipes
Build this circuit: Power + Keyboard + Oscillator + Splitter + Envelope + Filter + Delay + Speaker, and an other Oscillator goes between Splitter and Filter.
Use a laser cutter to cut both the upper and lower levels of the keytar body out of ¼ inch-thick acrylic. The template file for the laser cutter can be found here. In the file, the littleBits logo should be etched with the laser cutter (this will prevent bubbles from forming when applying acrylic glue to the surfaces.
Next, cut five layers of the littleBits logo out of ⅛” acrylic sheet. There are some variations on the letters ‘e’ and ‘B’, so try not to mix up the order. These letters should also be etched (for the same reason in the previous step).
Glue up the five layers of littleBits letters. Make sure that the three upper layers have a big cut out of the ‘e’ and ‘B’ and the two lower layers have only a small cut out of the ‘e’.
Before you add the circuit to the keytar body, apply 3M VHB tape to the top of all the Bitsnaps (colored connectors) that are positioned after the splitter. With these same Bits, we used a custom accessory (coming soon) to lock the modules together and stick them down to the lower body of the keytar. 3M VHB tape will also do the trick. Do not peel the film off the adhesive tape until you determine where exactly to place the modules on the lower body. You will also want to add VHB tape to the backside of the speaker.
Place all the Bits Modules into their corresponding holes. The modules before the splitter go on the neck of the Keytar and modules after splitter will go in between the two layers of the body. The two wires of the splitter pass down through the rectangular hole on the neck. You can disconnect and reconnect the JST connectors on the wires in order to do this.
Glue the letters to the upper part of the keytar body using acrylic glue.
Cut two 1” pieces of ¼” brass tube.
In our template file, the holes for the brass tube on the lower body are a little tighter than the corresponding holes on the upper body. Push the two brass tubes into the holes on the lower body - you may need to use a mallet.
Add a strap. Place the ends of the strap around the brass tubes on the lower body.
Now, peel off all the film from the modules with VHB tape and stick them down in their proper place.
Glue the upper half of the keytar body to the lower half. Put some acrylic glue on the letters and close the lower body quickly. The two brass pipes will help guide you when positioning the upper and lower bodies.
Clamp the whole Keytar body together until the glue dries completely.
Cut the 9/32”d brass tube to about 8” in length and bend it to look like a vibrato arm on an electronic guitar. Stick the tube onto the oscillator knob at the center of the body. Because the knob on the Oscillator Module is slightly smaller than 9/32”d, we made a small cut along the length at the end of the tube and squeezed it so that it fits tightly around the knob.
Print 6 plastic knobs with a 3d printer (see file Here). Use glue dots to secure the 3d printed knobs to the black knobs on the modules.
Hit the power and rock on! For big sound, you can plug into exterior speakers!
Bits used (9)
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Other Materials Used (5)
- 1/4"d brass tube 1
- 1/4"t Acrylic board, 24"x18" 1
- 1/8"t Acrylic board, 12"x18" 1
- 9/32"d brass tube 1
- Guitar strap 1
- 3M VHB tape
- Acrylic glue & applicator
- Bar clamp
- Glue dots
- Jeweler's saw
- Laser cutter