555 Noisemusick kit

Preamble

A friend of mine sent me details of the 555 Noisemusick kit, which, while it looks like an Atari Punk Console (APC) – see Atari Punx… – it is essentially two astable multivibrators, with the first providing a CV input to the second, and with additional IR sensors and touch pads (rather than an astable followed by a monostable, which is what the APC is).

It is also available as an iOS app, source code is available on github:Noisemusick.

Backstory

It is worth reading Fluxama’s backstory on the NoiseMusick, which is on their github documents repository:

Backstory.txt

How To Play

To start making sounds with the Noisemusick Board your body has to complete the circuit between the touch pads. Touching the pads on the left will generate the base frequency, while the two pads on the right will modulate that frequency.

Touch the left two pads, then the right two. By lifting a finger you can create rhythmic patterns of noise. Move your fingers to change the resistance between your finger and the pads which changes the frequency an beating of the tone.

We’ve included some additional circuitry to smooth out the harsh square waves generated by the circuit. Use the left and right pots to change the shape of the generated signal. The hold button can be used to make the instrument sound continuously without human input.

The Noisemusick Board was designed to create chaotic unique signals. With a little practice and exploration you can find repeatable beating oscillations and interesting interactions. Try using the output of the board as an input to other filters and effects.

About the Noisemusick Board

The Noisemusick synthesizer board is a controllable chaotic noise circuit that can be used in many different performance and recording situations. The circuit is designed around two 555 timers; one generates a square wave and the second modulates the first. Three variations of the circuit provide different effects and sounds. This is a Universal app for iPhones, iPads, and the iPod touch.

The 555 Timer is one of the oldest integrated circuits still available, in part because it is cheap, hardy, and has a surprising number of applications. This made it a natural choice for electronic music experiments in noise since the seventies.

In 2007 the Noisemusick Board was adapted into a PCB and bag of parts that was suitable for the masses. Three varieties exist: the blue commercial kit, a perfboard prototype, and a variant of the commercial board that was branded to appeal to young girls. The later was a complete flop; it turned out that girls preferred the blue boards as much as boys. After a year of poor sales, the remaining 100,000 Noisemusick circuit boards were buried in a landfill in New Mexico.

<!– The remainder appears on the web page –>

<Noisemusick kit image>

The original circuit boards were inspired by a workshop presented by Jessica Piper (nee Rylan) in the early 21st Century.

<Jessica Rylan BPNG image>
Caption: The touch sensitive version of BPNG synth.

In the Noisemusick Kit, the circuit uses your body instead of the input resistor; most people have a skin resistance in the megaohm range (on the outside at least; kiloohms once you break the skin). Since your body is essentially a big bag of salty water, you’ll introduce some capacitance into the circuit for additional fun. The capacitors are sized to bring the base frequency into the audible range, although sometimes the instrument can scream past 20kHz.

<Noisemusick Kit schematic>

The original Noisemusick schematic includes two infrared sensors for additional chaos on the inputs. Since your mobile device doesn’t have an infrared input, the circuit has been modified accordingly.

Also Heard On

You may have heard the instrument before, on the following recordings:

– One of many chaotic inputs on Meat The Beatless by The Beatless (2006)
– Massimo Russolo (Luigi Russolo’s grandson) used a Noisekit in a 2003 performance at STEIM
– It may appear on the massive 62 disc compilation History of Electronic / Electroacoustic Music [1937-2001] (it’s hard to tell)

NoisemusickKitBackstory.txt

* A Little Background *

The 555 Timer is one of the oldest integrated circuits still available. Its hardiness — and the fact that you can drive a speaker directly from the output on pin 3 — have made it a natural choice for electronic music experiments in noise since the seventies. This instrument uses two 555 timers to create controllable chaotic noise that can be used in a multitude of performance and recording situations.

The original circuit boards were inspired by a workshop presented by Jessica Piper (nee Rylan) in the early 21st Century.

<Jessica Rylan BPNG image>
Caption: The touch sensitive version of BPNG synth.

The Noisemusick Kit was adapted into a PCB and bag of parts that was suitable for the masses. After a year of poor sales, the remaining 5 million Noisemusick Kit circuit boards were buried in a landfill in New Mexico.

* ABout the Circuit *
The schematic is similar to Forrest Mims’ Atari Punk Console, as featured in the excellent 555 Timer Mini-notebook:

<mims image>

(Describe the way that 555 timer works)

<image of the way a 555 timer works>

In the Noisemusick Kit, the circuit uses your body instead of the input resistor; most people have a skin resistance in the megaohm range (on the outside at least; kiloohms once you break the skin). Since your body is essentially a big bag of salty water, you’ll introduce some capacitance into the circuit for additional fun. The capacitors are sized to bring the base frequency into the audible range, although sometimes the instrument can scream past 20kHz.

<Noisemusick Kit schematic>

The original Noisemusick schematic includes two infrared sensors for additional chaos on the inputs. Since your mobile device doesn’t have an infrared input, the circuit has been modified accordingly.

* How to Play *

* Also Heard On *

You may have heard the instrument before, on the following recordings:

– One of many chaotic inputs on Meat The Beatless by The Beatless (2006)
– Massimo Russolo (Luigi Russolo’s grandson) used a Noisekit in a 2003 performance at STEIM
– It may appear on the massive 62 disc compilation History of Electronic / Electroacoustic Music [1937-2001] (it’s hard to tell)

Version 3

From https://moderndevice.com/product/noisemusick-kit-v-3/

Description

The 555 Noisemusick Kit is a musical instrument that generates chaotic square wave noise from two 555 oscillators. The instrument consists of two 555-based circuits: the first uses your skin’s natural resistance to control the carrier frequency; the second modulates the carrier based on the input from two infrared detectors. The result is a surprisingly chaotic sound generator. It’s also fun to play! The Noisemusick Kit is a lot like the Atari Punk Console, but less predictable with a wider range of sounds. There’s also a very similar schematic in Forrest Mims’ excellent 555 Timer Mini-notebook. The touchpads are inspired by the touch sensitive version of Jessica Rylan’s BPNG kit. See the assembly instructions here.

Here is the schematic for version 3 (original link)

555 Noisemusick kit schematic
555 Noisemusick kit schematic

Here are the EAGLE files:

Assembly PDF: NoisemusickAssemblyInstructions (Original link).

Version 2

This original link to this article (which I seem to recall was linked to from the iTunes app page, Noisemusick) is Fluxly – 555 noisemusick kit. However the link appears to have died:

Noisemusick Not Found
Noisemusick Not Found

so I have recreated the post herein, below (unfortunately the images are missing as I didn’t have a chance to save them):


The 555 Noisemusick Kit is a kind-of musical instrument that generates raunchy square wave noise from two 555 oscillators. The circuit is controlled by varying the amount of infrared light hitting the board (like an optical theramin) and injecting the natural resistance of your body into the circuit via four touch points. Squonky fun for the whole family!

Version 2 of the 555 Noisemusick kit is done! Here are the changes from version 1:

1 Larger, friendlier solder pads!

2 An on/off switch!

3 A power indicator LED!

4 Generally improved board layout

5 Oh yeah: a new name!

Here are the schematics and board files:

A larger PNG image of the schematic.

The schematic in Eagle.

The board file in Eagle.

The 555 Timer is one of the oldest integrated circuits still available. It’s also one of the few ICs you can buy at the mall! Its hardiness — and the fact that you can drive a speaker directly from the output on pin 3 — have made it a natural choice for electronic music experiments in noise since the seventies. The 555 Noisekit utilizes two 555 timers.

The Noisemusick Kit is a lot like the Atari Punk Console, although it was created before I even knew about that project. There’s also a very similar schematic in Forrest Mims’ excellent 555 Timer Mini-notebook. The touchpads are inspired by the touch sensitive version of Jessica Rylan’s BPNG kit.

If you have version 1 of the Noisekit (it’s green and says “Noisekit” instead of “Noisemusick Kit”), please follow the Version 1 instructions, which are slightly different.

WARNING : Never plug into headphones! The volume is much too loud and the intensity of the square waves can damage your hearing! Really! The noisekit is designed to be plugged into external speakers, not headphones.

How to Build It

Never soldered before? No problem; it is pretty easy, and this is a very easy kit to put together. Go visit Curious Inventor’s thorough soldering tutorial before continuing.

First, place the two 1k and two 4.7k resistors. The colored bands on the 1k resistors are Brown-Black-Red, and the 4.7k are Yellow-Violet-Red:

<image>

Bend the leads over on the back of the board:

<image>

…then solder…

<image>

…then clip. Always remember to hold the end of the lead when clipping!

<image>

Next, place the two small capacitors. The 22pF one is blue with a 22J on it, and the .047uF one is yellow. These two are not polarized and can go in either direction.

<image>

The 10uF capacitor is polarized: insert it with the long lead in the “+” hole:

<image>

Insert the two infrared phototransistor sensors in the spots marked IR. The short lead should go through the lower hole (the one marked with the flat side). Then insert the smaller power indicator LED in the center spot, making sure that the short lead goes in the lower hole.

Important: The infrared phototransistors (detectors) and power LED look similar, but the IR detectors are slightly larger (see photo)!

<image>

Plug in the integrated circuit sockets above the IR sensors; make sure that the little notch lines up with the notch on the board. Sockets are used to protect the ICs from the heat of the soldering iron and to make it easier to swap in a new chip if necessary.

<image>

The mini stereo jack plugs in at the top of the board. In most cases the jack should fit snugly enough so that you can flip the board over and solder it directly. You may need to use a helping hand clip, or just tack down one of the pins with a little solder on the end of your iron to hold it in place.

<image>

Next up is the voltage regulator, which changes the 9v battery supply into a nice even 5V power source. Make sure the heat sink (the metal crown) is oriented as in the photo:

<image>

Add the power switch, directly below the regulator:

<image>

Next, trim the leads on the battery clip to about 1.5 inches or so, and strip off an eighth of an inch. Solder the leads into the two holes marked “Power”; red is positive, black negative.

The battery clip can be hot glued to the bottom of the board to keep everything together.

<image>

<image>

Finally, insert the ICs in the sockets. You’d be surprised at how many times people forget this step! One side of the chip has a dot that marks pin 1 of the IC. Insert the chip so that the dot is to the right, on the same side of the socket that has a little semi-circle removed from it.

<image>

How to Play

WARNING : Never plug into headphones! The volume is much too loud and the intensity of the square waves can damage your hearing! Really! The noisekit is designed to be plugged into external speakers, not headphones.

ANOTHER WARNING: Only power the noisekit from a 9V battery! If you know what you’re doing, you can power it from a 9V DC transformer, but it’s always a bad idea to plug things into the wall when you’re touching open conductors and completing circuits with your body. Why risk it?

Touch the two left-hand touch points to make sounds. After that, just play around with the thing. Here’s the noisekit in action:


 

 

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