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Wire with eyelet FIGURE 12-12: Wire-to-plate connection
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I ve already given an example of how the keypad of a stenograph can be transformed into an electronic switching system ( 11, Figure 11-16). Keep watch for other mechanical mechanisms that, with alteration, might serve well as electrical switch actuators. But what I m describing now is transforming the switches and buttons themselves. Using the example of the Species Device again (see Figure 12-11), old piano key ivories (actually celluloid) were reshaped and fitted to the instrument case just above the four circular pushbuttons of the toy s original design. (These buttons originally looked like the wheels of the train the animals are riding on.) Pressing the piano keys now also presses the buttons hidden underneath. Also on the Species Device, I ve fastened mother-of-pearl buttons to the remaining animal voice keys. This transformation of plastic train wheels and animal faces into piano keys and oversized accordion buttons pushes the instrument way into another reality. Extending the feeler levers of micro switches (see Figure 12-13) allows you to design countless actuator buttons. As shown earlier, in one of my Insectaphones ( 11, Figure 11-17), I control a voice actuation circuit with the extended arm of a micro switch (see Figure 12-14).
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FIGURE 12-13: Extending the feeler lever on a micro switch
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Part III Dr. Frankenstein, May We Proceed
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FIGURE 12-14: Micro switch arm extending out of instrument s side
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In this example I ve tipped the extension with a small, gold-rimmed button. On the same instrument I ve also topped the stock pushbuttons with identical gold-rimmed buttons to tie all switches together visually.
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LED Transformation
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Although an LED mounted in a precise hole looks fine all by itself, transforming this light source into more interesting configurations is easy. The most obvious of these is simply installing the LED into a pilot housing of one type or another. If you shop the surplus marketplace, you ll find many variations, including fine examples of pilot lamp housings with mechanical shutters (to adjust brightness), finely cut stained glass, and seemingly endless abstruse titling (see Figure 12-15). Many other light-transmitting items can be used for LED housings or lenses. In the example of the Dworkian Register, I ve used four vintage Lucite light pipes at the rear to cast ultrabright red envelope LED light into the room (see Figure 12-16).
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FIGURE 12-15: Assorted pilot lamp housings
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FIGURE 12-16: Light pipes on the Dworkian Register
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Part III Dr. Frankenstein, May We Proceed
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These light pipes, probably from the 1950s, are pink Lucite rods meant to be screwed onto the end of a flashlight for use as a signaling device. Marbles could be used in the same way. Glass eyes are great for LED lenses. These can be rear mounted in any area with enough space for the eye and LED combination (see Figure 12-17).
FIGURE 12-17: Glass human eye on bent guitar
Human glass eyes made for the medical industry are superb transmitters of LED light. I ll at times use the same eye as both steady power lamp and throbbing envelope lamp, shining two LEDs into the same eye from behind (see Figure 12-18). Unlike the glass animal eyes made for taxidermy and puppeteers, glass human eyes are hard to find, as well as expensive. However, they disperse the light within them wonderfully. I ve also used antique mechanical doll eyes ( sleepy eyes) as LED housings by drilling the back of the eye s housing so that the light of an LED can shine in. These eyes open as the instrument is brought to an upright position, and they light as both power indicator and envelope lamp on the Species Device (see Figure 12-19).
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FIGURE 12-18: Back lighting a glass eye with LEDs glued in place Closed mechanical eye LED
Hole drilled for LED FIGURE 12-19: Illuminating a sleepy doll eye
Eighteen Projects for Creating Your Own Alien Orchestra
in this part
13 The Instrumentarium: An Overview 14 Project 1: Original Pushbutton Speak & Spell Incantor 15 Project 2: Common Speak & Spell Incantor 16 Project 3: Speak & Read Incantor 17 Project 4: Speak & Math Incantor 18 Project 5: The Casio SA-2 Aleatron 19 Project 6: The Casio SA-5 Aleatron 20 Project 7: The Realistic Concertmate 380 Aleatron 21 Project 8: The Casio SK-60 Aleatron 22 Project 9: Casio MT-140 Aleatron 23 Project 10: Casio SK-1 Aleatron 24 Project 11: Mall Madness 25 Project 12: The Inverter 26 Project 13: Electronic Rap Pad 27 Project 14: Bent Book Strip 28 Project 15: Cool Keys Bent Music Stick 29 Project 16: Fisher Price Electronic Womb 30 Project 17: The Harmonic Window 31 Project 18: Hyper Sax Closing Words
hen you have one instrument before you, you begin to think as a composer. But with an orchestra in front of you, you re also an arranger, suddenly capable of taking your musical thoughts much, much further.