life-like bird song circuit by kelly heaton

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).

Prototyping Night Insects by kelly heaton

Here I am at my bench prototyping various analog electronic insects for my latest "electrolier" sculpture. The sounds are made using a combination of astable multivibrators (oscillators), some of which create the audio timber and others establish a chirp-like tempo. The speakers are custom piezo electric devices that I have physically modified to achieve different sound qualities, such as brighter versus muffled and close versus distant. Individuality is achieved by subtle variations in the electrical signal and the output device.

Tree cricket prototype by kelly heaton

I'm working on a prototype for a series of tree crickets (for my latest "electrolier" sculpture). This board is a little analog synthesizer with options to adjust resistor and capacitor values, thereby achieving different insect sounds. The video shows only one of the sounds --I'll demonstrate others later. 

The wings were laser cut out of Dura-Lar at the Nova Labs Makerspace in Reston, VA. In the video, I'm holding a wire spool to amplify the raw piezo element, for which I need to make a resonant chamber. The piezo is driven with my little "RadioShack copy" amplifier circuit that I blogged about recently (March 12). The board was manufactured in China by PCBWay.