Photocell Theremin

For the last two months, I've been teaching at the Brooklyn International High School as a visiting artist from Beam Center. As part of a 6-week intensive course on music, I'm introducing the students to my DIY Drums course, where they will learn about electronics, Arduino, programming, fabrication, and soldering.

For the circuitry part of the class, we prototyped an oscillator circuit on a breadboard using a 555 Timer and a photocell. A week later, I showed the kids how to solder this same circuit using a circuit board I designed.


The circuit is a simple astable multivibrator using a 555 Timer and a photocell to vary the frequency of the square wave. I connected a 9-volt battery to a momentary push-button so that it can turn the power on and off and create a rhythmic pattern.

The class took about an hour to learn to solder and assemble the board. They were already familiar with the components (capacitors, resistors), as we had been using them for the past few weeks. All in all, this workshop could be taught to someone who has never worked with electronics before in about two hours.

If you'd like to set up an introduction to soldering workshop using this design, contact me for more details!

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