Here it is at last: my edition of 150 printed circuit boards and associated components, “Pretty Bird ver. CC,” 2019. This multiple was commissioned by Creative Capital for their 20th summer retreat celebration. I designed the artistic circuit using discrete hardware to generate waveforms from a 12 volt DC power supply, visible as blinking LEDs and audible through an 8 ohm speaker. Under the right lighting conditions, the sound is reminiscent of “pretty bird,” a song of the Carolia wren. There are no audio recordings or software algorithms involved in this effect — it’s entirely analog electronic. In the upper left corner of the circuit is a light-dependent resistor that affects the frequency of a negator oscillator, as I demonstrate in the video by changing the ambient light. It’s fascinating to me that a small quantity of common transistors, resistors, capacitors, and diodes can create vibrations that are so life-like. Similarity or simulacrum? The spark of life.
My first run of boards came in this week. I am pleased to report that the circuit works as intended (sings an analog electronic song). I’ll post video of that soon, but for now, some photos of the pretty board. I used gold-plated copper and solder mask to achieve a watermark effect, as you can see in some of these pictures. These boards (along with components to solder) will be given to attendees at Creative Capital’s 2019 retreat in June.
This simple circuit sings like a bird, even with chirp variation! This effect is caused by various discrete non-linear components in a breadboard. I tried to build a soldered version and, while it sings, I haven’t been able to reproduce the life-like quality of this circuit (hence my theory that parasitic capacitance is at play).
In the front half of the breadboard, you see three astable multivibrators that create an irregular tempo. These are connected back to various locations in a “chirp generator” circuit (based on the classic doorbell canary design with an audio transformer).
My first cricket circuit board arrived today and it chirps!
I did make one error in my schematic, which involved the reversal of the PNP transistor (3906). Thankfully, the wiring worked perfectly when I turned the PNP in the opposite direction.
Unafraid Field Cricket, 2018. Analog electronics, watercolor, and graphite on paper. This little analog electronic cricket painting is "unafraid" because its sensor is pretty insensitive. The speaker element is a deconstructed RadioShack piezo electronic buzzer (with some blue paint to knock down the white rubber ring - see detail on right).