Maker Faire 2011 in NYC is chock full of some amazing projects. The sheer quantity and variety of makers showcasing work is staggering. To see everything is definitely more than a two day affair. This year I was invited to present a self-built solar powered music making system for 3rd Ward, where I currently teach the art of making DIY Synthesizers and small scale solar charging systems.
This solar music making station (Protochiptune Project) is powered by a Voltaic Systems 15 Watt panel connected to a 7.5Ah 12V Seal Lead Acid Battery. A 10A solar charge controller does all the power management to drive the music synthesizer’s three 5 Watt amplifiers. The microchips used are from the 4000 series CMOS digital logic family, including such chips as: hex inverting buffer (40106), 12-bit binary counter (4040), 8-to-1 selector switch (4051), quad 2-input AND gate (4081), and divide by n counter (4018). These chips are used together to produce a range of pitches and rhythms that can be sequenced or programmed by moving jumper cables on the breadboard, making a mini patchable modular synth.
At Maker Faire, kids were really attracted to the crazy jams coming out of this thing. Those who were bold enough were allowed to move some of the jumpers around on the board and make up their own musical patterns.