Katari Punk Console

This here’s the Katari, or the kit version of the Atari Punk console that I helped put together while at ISRO. It’s based on the Atari Punk Console and aimed at being used for workshops for electronics and noise making. (http://www.jameco.com/Jameco/PressRoom/punk.html?CID=punk). It’s more or less the same design, just housed in little electrical boxes you can find for 20rs or so. We added 2 light detecting resistors to make it a little more interactive and fun, as well as switches to select between the different controls. It’s a gloriously noisy little thing.

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kit version

Modded Voice Looping toy

A friend got this fun voice looping toy from the souvenir shop at MoMA that lets you record 3 second long clips and play them back. It has a pitch/speed shifting dial, which is fun, but it does lack one or two features that could make it pretty usable. To remedy that, I added an option for line out, and a toggle switch instead of the pushbutton, so that it could play back a given loop infinitely. Here’s a quick test of the same:

Gear: Hacked MoMA voice box-> MXR Blue Box-> Digitech hardwire looper

Career Fair workshop

Last week, Arun and I did a workshop at a career fair for ITI graduates, which took place at Freedom Park (Bangalore). It was organized by Quest Alliance, an NGO that works with Design in Education mainly with students from ITI’s (Industrial Training Institutes). ITI’s are government-run colleges that provide students with the basic skills to do the job of, say, an operator or craftsman.

As with any other engineering institutes, ITI’s (or any institute, for that matter) are plagued by the usual issues of teaching being imparted soullessly, as a means to a lievelihood, and without any idea of individuality of the student. After initial ideas flitting around doing an arduino workshop with them where they’d learn the necessary skills of using the arduino environment and basic prototyping techniques, we decided we weren’t quite experts in the field ourselves, and tried a new track.

We decided to focus on introducing them to open-source projects and doing innovative and fun things with low-cost alternatives. It seemed more valuable to show them the available possibilities of DIY tech, for us as well as them….seeing that this was our first time taking a workshop like this, it didn’t make sense to go in acting like we knew what was going to come out of it. Anyway, here’s a summary of what happened:

We began with a simple demonstration of the DIY webcam microscope, as a sort of icebreaker. It got their attention, but the number of times I practised that routine beforehand made the sensor get all foggy, which did dampen its impact somewhat. After seeing a couple of fuzzy pixels on my laptop screen, we progressed to showing them some stuff we’ve worked on as Ternup, from our low-cost water testing kit (Caddisfly), and the simple colour sensor hack we based it on, to our DIY rain gauge using piezo discs as contact microphones, just to give an idea of some basic technology that could make a difference if just used a little differently. They seemed pretty intrigued by the contact mics, as they associated the parts with the buzzers that are usually found in toys and greeting cards .

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Since we had finally segued into the topic of making a potential racket, it was time to get down to making synths.

We had a bunch of students who had no idea about electronics, so we skipped most of the techy bits of the presentation, and had them try to make the arduino synth – the Auduino. The circuitry required to set it up is extremely basic, just a few pots and wires (the fun stuff happens in the code) so they managed to connect it up fairly quickly and listen to their instruments as well (they seemed to be in a  hurry to be elsewhere).


We gave the to-be-engineers (who had done soldering, and were used to working with breadboards and building basic circuits) an analogue synth called the Atari Punk Console. It’s pretty easy to make, although not simple enough for the two hour long session we had. I forgot that, as with any other circuit, it required approximately the same amount of time to troubleshoot it as to make it.

Atari Punk Console

They did get a few wheezy squeaks out of the badly grounded circuit, though. At the end of it a couple of them came up and asked me to give them the circuit diagrams so they could try making it at home.

Anyhow, they left mostly without the expression that we had irreplacably stolen 2 hours of their life, so I guess that went well. For a first workshop along these lines for either of us, perhaps more so.


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This is my final piece for a “sculpture for animation” course i was doing ( i mostly ignored the ‘for animation’ bit) at the start of this sem..

It had some mild faff about being about the experience of playing an instrument and all. I began with a wire and thread armature, which i covered and molded with clay, followed by a few layers of acrylic spray paints.

The wire at the back is for support.

Here’s another one i was doing, but didn’t quite get round to completing because i was being lazy. Thought the armature looked cool though.


Synths for ISRO

After my tinkering about with circuits and noise last semester during the toy lab, I decided to intern with Yashas Shetty, artist-in-residence at Srishti, and periodic hacker/noisemaker along with ISRO (Indian Sonic Research organization, of course; the local (and perhaps only) experimental sound lab). I made a couple of synths, in addition to taking apart printers, mucking around with feedback, and generally annoying the hell out of anyone within earshot with all possible forms of ungodly rackets. Anyway, here’re a couple of the synths i made, most of them based on existing DIY projects.

The first one’s the Auduino, the basic platform of which i used in my toys as well. It’s based on the arduino microcontroller, though i didn’t really alter the schematic or program much here. The casing was meant to look like really retro radios, and maybe partially inspired by Dieter Rams’ work (at least, that was the intention)

This one is the dronelab, which we designed to put into the mughal looking table/box thing below (hence all the wires). I’ve decided to simplify that, so the final form is going to look far less intimidating, be easier to play, in addition to being more durable.


And here’s An Atari Punk Console, housed in a box made from 2mm HIP.



I joined the Srishti Toy Lab last semester, which involved (with a general emphasis on fun) designing a toy/play activity for children. I decided early on that i wanted to work with sound, and creating play patterns for children which allowed them to explore the medium.

So here the result of a few months of exploration iterating: the HydroHummers (tentative name).

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Each toy has a synthesizer based on the auduino, and a piezo disc wired as a contact mic. The person playing with it can choose between these two modes, of creating their own sounds and expression with an instrument, or using the contact mic to “listen” to the world around them.

Here’s a shaky video of one of them in action(will fix that soon, hopefully):