basic theremin with nice tones for science fair

Posted: 2/15/2013 4:39:30 PM

Joined: 2/5/2013


I would like to build a thermin within our gate at our Mini Maker Faire in Tyler TX.  This certainly looks like the most helpful forum around!

The ideal goal would be to have a cool looking gate for the attendees to walk through and part or all of the gate would be a theramin.  We'd like to surprise them and generate curiousity.

One idea is for the entry to be made of clear pvc with led lights inside simply for the asthetics.  This entry gate would be shaped like an upside down square U.  Ideally, the theremin antennas (rod perhaps?) would be about head level so that depending on how tall the person was, it would create varying tones.

Is this possible, without great complication?

If not, could one 'leg' of the gate be the teremin?

While researching it, I found the bollard one by digitalearth.  It's perfect for us in all respects.  That's the shape we need and the tone we want.

While we are knowledgeable enough to build electronics and the mechanics, theremins are new and seem to have a vast array of options.  Can you help??


Posted: 2/15/2013 5:57:30 PM
RS Theremin

From: 60 mi. N of San Diego CA

Joined: 2/15/2005

Hello freedomtech,

To get to a level of useable/practical theremin knowledge many designers have invested more than $10,000 and more than 10,000 hours on a project that was done only for the love of the art. Let’s not leave out the Thereminist who practiced more than 10,000 hours to play a tune well enough to be recognized as accurate.

Then you make this statement:

“I don't think it's in the budget to buy a kit.  I'll be doing this from scratch.”

That is the same statement I made ten years ago, so I did smile (-'. If you attempt a theremin approach from scratch, it could end up like a Texas A & M log pile, I say that with respect. I think you mean build someone else’s design. The simplest approach to experiment using your idea is to use the pre-constructed Theremaniac. This is as sensitive as a theremin gets and you will learn what the limits of theremin behavior are. There is software out there that converts the theremin tone fed to a computer sound card into those Midi tones you heard in the video.

You should be able to get workable results with these two suggestions, so enjoy.

Good Luck,


Posted: 2/15/2013 10:41:29 PM

From: Eastleigh, Hampshire, U.K. ................................... Fred Mundell. ................................... Electronics Engineer. (Primarily Analogue) .. CV Synths 1974-1980 .. Theremin developer 2007 to present .. soon to be Developing / Trading as . ...................................

Joined: 12/7/2007

For a science-fair type project, I think a Silicon Chip kit is probably your best bet.. The tone is quite sine-like so less irritating than many, it has good sensitivity, it operates directly on antenna capacitance (no EQ coil) so is quite easy to tune for different antenna shapes / sizes, and is low cost. Put a small neon tube between the antenna and ground, and its reasonably robust.

You dont need linearity, or I would not give this advice.



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