This blog serves as an information repository for myself, and the information is posted for consumption by the circuit bending community at large. Feel free to use any information gleaned herein for your own bending purposes.

Warning: I make no guarantees of my methods as I know next to nothing about electronics. I will however guarantee that you will end up destroying a toy or two in your circuit bending endeavors and if you do so, it is your own fault.

You can send your questions, tips, news, ideas, et. al. to octatone@gmail.com.

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Latest From CDM

Monday, December 3, 2007

From the Community: Sesame Street Sax

Performance: Glöggerne + Martin Klapper, Live at Transformator, Denmark

From the Community: Toy Keyboard by Åke Strömer

From the Community: Squarewave Synth by $k4 - Red button

More info from $k4 - Red button at http://skabutton.blogspot.com.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

DivShare Test Post

I'm moving my websites from pay per month hosting services as I am heading towards being off the grid for sixth months and will have no time to handle upkeep and filing tickets for outages. So I am testing an audio/video/document host DivShare. So here's a recording of a short ditty set to a patriotic tune.

Friday, November 30, 2007

From the Community: Vtech Little Smart First Words

From the Community: Mystery Box

Something fun is hiding in there ...

Thursday, November 29, 2007

From the Community: Casio PT-10

From the Community: Roland Tr-626

Publish Post

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

From the Community: SIG's Theremin Watch

Performance: Pikachu Orchestra

From the Community: Dod Fx-747

From the Community: Yamaha Rx-17

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Octatone's Bends: Wiggles Toy Accordion

The Wiggles toy accordion actually makes use of accordion-like movement to trigger sounds. Pulling and pushing the accordion in and out pulls a string that is attached to a sprocket that bumps against a switch as it winds and unwinds. So this ends up being a very hands intensive bend.

This side of the accordion houses the main board as well as the sprocket that triggers the accordion sounds. Modifications seen here are pitch bend body contacts and pitch bend photoresistor on momentary push toggles.

On this side you can see the photoresitors that are activated by the push toggles on the opposite side of the accordion as well as three toggles for max pitch up, max pitch down, and a distortion + pitch down bend.

Inside the photoresistor side.

Top side of the main board. The three bends on the photo resistor only work with resistance in the path to the common point. Hence the sloppy add-on resistor pictured above.

Bend points:

Yellow is the common point. Red circles are distortion, pitch up, and pitch down + random note toggle - there must be resistance of about 5k between these points and common for them to work. Blue are body contact pitch bend points.

Octatone's Bends: Vtech Talking Whiz Kid Plus Documented

The Vtech Talking Whiz Kid Plus is a fairly stable benders playground. there are more than a dozen bends that will yield similar results of the toy crashing and spewing out random bits and pieces of words. The tough part is finding bends that do not sound too much the same.

From the top of the piece, you can see I paid a paltry $1.99. The toggles trigger bends from left to right as follows: random spew A, rhythmic loop slow, rhythmic loop medium, rhythmic loop fast, "tremolo" warble slow, "tremolo" warble fast, sample freeze, random spew B.

From inside, you can see the cavernous amount of unused space where the main board resides. There is more than enough room for 20 or more toggle switches if one so dared.

To get to the main board you must detach the keyboard by either unscrewing the connection between to the main logic board and keyboard, or breaking off the excess plastic holding the keyboard in place (the three red dots in the lower area of the above photo).

Now for the bend points:

Random spew A: brown with white stripe to red with white stripe
Rhythmic loop slow: pink to light green with white stripe
Rhythmic loop medium: red to light green with white stripe
Rhythmic loop fast: green to light green with white stripe
"Tremolo" warble slow: pink to gray with black stripe
"Tremolo" warble fast: yellow to red
Sample freeze: yellow to pink with black sripe
Random spew B: blue with white stripe to red with white stripe

Friday, November 23, 2007

From the Community: Yamaha DD-9

From the Community: Casio Rapman

From the Community: Pikachu Orchestra

From the Community: NES Zapper + DIY Oscillator

From the Community: Modified DR-110

George Lazenbleep's highly modified Boss DR-110.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

From the Community: Modular SK-1

Sound As Art: Modified WSG and Hand-Etched PCB

Installation by the boys over at Batt Trees Wreck Wired

From the Community: Circuit Bendind @ Madison Pop Fest '07

Features Alex from GetLoFi showing how to use a 555 IC to replace crystal CPU clocks.

From the Community: Bent Whoopee Cusion

From the Community: Toy Guitar

Love the lab coat.

From the Community: ABC Elmo

Elmo never sounded more angry.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Octatone's Bends: Vtech Talking Whiz-Kid Plus

Performance: James Anderson and Nick Holbrook

From the Community: Sound Gloves

From the Community: Musini by Youtuber KillaB777

Peformance: Modified Toy Orchestra at the Octopus Festival

Performance: Live Bending Yamaha PSS-570 by Ketchupok

Monday, November 19, 2007

From the Community: Speak and Math

From the Community: Toy Gun

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Octatone's Bends: Wiggles Toy Accordion

Instructional photos to come.

Performance: Crank Sturgeon

There is a running theme of masks and costumes being used by performers of noise/glitch/bent music. crank Sturgeon is no exception.

From the Community: Bent Toy Keyboard

Random noise generator.

Friday, November 16, 2007

From the Community: Toy Guitar bent To Hell

Beautiful sounds are emanating from this beast.

From the Community: Speak and Math

Most of the switches look to be encased in a nice project box.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

From the Community: Casio SA9

Nice portable keyboard I must acquire. Lots of noisy bends and nice use of filters.

From the Community: Vocabulary Toy

Lovely rhythmic pops and squelchy hiss from a toy made by Chicco.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

From the Community: Speak and Math

Monday, November 12, 2007

From the Community: Casio SK-1 + Tape mod

A wicked bend/combo by AttDestroyers on Experimentalists Anonymous.


Saturday, November 10, 2007

Octatone's Bends: Vtech First Words Toy

I bought this the same day I grabbed the 99 cent geetar. This past Wednesday I finally bent it. I found pitch up and pitch down bend points as well as a jump that only works when the pitch up/down bends are active. The final result is a fairly simple noise making toy. For playability I added jumps to the pitch up/down bends to max them out instantly.

Inside you can see the signal flow of the bends. The pot I used has a built in switch which is handy. I placed the down bend pot and the body contacts next to each other because they work best together - the body contacts don't work as consistently with the pitch up bend. Placing the up bend toggle and photocell above the down bend makes it easy for me to remember what they do. The pushbuttons short the pitch bend signal path for instant max high/low. There is a 250k resistor on the signal from the speaker to the 1/4 out tip to tame the way too hot signal for use in a mixer/amp.

Bend Points

From the Community: Circuit Bent Toy

Tiny but gets some nice low noise going:

From the Community: Bent Train Toy

Simple pitch bending:

From the Community: DIY Square Wave "Theremin"

Has a modular input for pitch control (mentions DIY ribbon controller out of VHS tape) as well as a photocell for pitch control.

From the Community: DIY Oscilliscope

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

From the Community: Bent Star Wars Toy Computer

Octatone's Bends: Toy Electronic Drumsticks

Simplistic pitch bend of one out of a pair of electronic drumsticks.

From the Community: Casio PT-87

Exploring bend points on a 2-buck board.

From the Community: Hex inverter in a box

From the Community: Casio DM-100

Bent to hell.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

From the Community: Speak and Math in Black and White

A very beautiful bent speak and math in simplistic monochrome.

Monday, November 5, 2007

From the Community: Circuitbent Cats

From the Community: Echo Curio Gallery

Much noise emanating from the Echo Curio Gallery in LA.

From the Community: Casio PT-22

This Casio PT-22 was circuitbent into a lovely noise maker by salamanderanagram. More info including how to and schematics at http://circuitbent.wikispaces.com/Casio+PT-22.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Octatone's Bends: Yamaha VSS-30

I bent my VSS-30 about a month ago and it was my first attempt at circuit bending. I did a lot of research before I started as I didn't want to fry an already cool little retro keyboard. Some of the tips were gleaned from J. Robert Lennon whose VSS-30 preset bends I had seen on eBay of all places. The final result is a machine that still operates as it did originally but that can be tweaked to utter hell with the mods added on. Just as a forewarning, some of the preset bends I added can increase the output volume exponentially as they tap directly into the VSS-30's 5 watt amp IC; seriously, this thing gets LOUD.

On to the useful information:

The main circuit board of the VSS-30 has a large CPU and RAM to the lower right of this photo. The RAM patch bay that I added (standard VSS-30 bend) is wired directly to the pins of RAM chip. The preset bends (toggle switches) are wired similarly to the pins going from the CPU to the RAM, so that the toggles and the patch bay are sharing the same signal path - which lends itself to more chaotic noise.

In the above picture, there is an arrow in sharpy pointing to a yellow wire. That is the bend point for all of the toggle switches.

The patch bay and toggles from the front of the bent Yamaha VSS-30:

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The 99-cent Geetar (Circuit Bent My Song Maker Guitar)

This is a recap of my Circuit Bending Challenge day 'o fun. I posted during that day in the CDM forums but this is meant to be a more comprehensive write up of the process.

10:00 AM Oct. 28, 2007

Time to hike on down to the large Seattle Goodwill in what is often called Little Saigon just east of the International District (China Town) in Downtown Seattle.

It is a gorgeous day out and my hopes are high as I try to get there before the store opens at eleven and all the good stuff is swiped.

While I was searching the toys, I found someone's discarded bend:

It was a toy boom box with a microphone on it, I assumed it was a dead bend as I can't fathom someone just tossing out their work. That or someone was subversivley trying to influence the next generation of hackers and benders through seeding his bent toys in the local thrift mart ...

I picked out and tested my goods and payed $7.57 for my supplies: one v-tech speak and read clone computer, one leapfrog alphabet learning toy, a my first words toy, and a My Song Maker toy guitar - and a hippo for my fiancée who has an obsession with fat animals.

12:30 PM

After arriving home with pork skewers for lunch from the from the vegetarian Vietnamese restaurant Vegan Garden, I set to work tearing open my goods and testing for bends. I started with the My First Words toy and found some pitch and stutter bends, but decided it was not quite interesting enough to warrant spending the day working on it. Then I spent an hour or more trying to bend the leapfrog learning toy with no success - which was a bummer as it has some of the cleanest vocal samples in a toy that I have purchased second only to my Pokemon hiragana/katakana Nihongo learning toy. I knew from previous readings and bending research that the v-tech was bendable so I set that aside for later.

Then I opened the guitar:

It had three boards inside with two blob ICs between them. The visible board in the neck had lots of resistors and capacitors so I started my search there. Quite quickly I found the pitch bend and the body contact points and loved the sounds so I got crackin'.

I went through a bunch of my misc. pots and decided this dual 38k pot I had seemed to work best/have the most dramatic results between the pitch bend points. So I wired that up first.


By five o'clock, between wiring up a faulty switch, dremmelling the jack hole in the wrong spot, and getting some chores done, I had the guitar up and running in its beginning stages:

Then I scavenged for some screws and hooked up the body contacts:

Then I got to rocking it out:

Oct. 29, 2007

The next morning I was still having fun with this noise maker and added one more mod.

Then it was time to do my first solo improvisation on the beast:


Participating in the circuit Bending Challenge 2k7 was a blast and it was inspiring and educational to see what other people around the world do when bending toys. This guitar is only my second bend, but getting up early on Sunday to participate ended up supplying me with toys for more. Kudos to Michael Una, CDM and GetLoFi for spurring the collective creativity of the geeky masses.

I can't wait for the next challenge.