Ancient and puzzle builder seeking advice

Posted: 5/4/2017 9:34:56 PM

From: Potterspury Northant England

Joined: 5/4/2017

Hello Folks

Back in 2008 I built the EPE mini Theremin which was a copy of one published at about the same time in Silicon Chip \9described as the Mark 2 . Got it working with some difficulty (and not particularly well !) Eventually gave it to a local museum for demonstrations to children. Recent visit showed it inoperative and all my attempts to rejuvenate it have failed. I would like to get it back in action for them and at the same time build myself one. I find that Silicon chip introduced a redesign in August 2009 ( which they stated was an improvement on their original 2000 design !) It appears to be a simple version of the one I built which all leaves me rather confused. So, the advice I am seeking is :- Should I struggle on with the old mark2 for the museum or rebuild it as the “new” 2009 model ( I have acquired the pcb layout but would have to make the pcb). Then for my own model what about the open theremin which sounds quite good on youtube videos and I am already quite familiar with arduinos.  Any advice or comments would be most welcome

Posted: 5/5/2017 12:23:41 AM

From: 60 Miles North of San Diego, CA

Joined: 10/1/2014

Hello David,

I find it facincinating your interest in furnishing a theremin for a kids museum. No one can properly answer the question you ask because we all have our own unique opinions from years of experience. Everyone is an expert.

Ten years ago in my Old Temecula Museum I maintained a pitch-only theremin with a remote pitch tuning control so the high school student maître d' could keep it in tune (null point) for the kids when she heard it start to whistle when no one was around. FredM used an auto-mute method in his museum.

I used a 10 meter extension cable, it would be great to get creative opinions how to do this using RF remote Pot control. I do have another new EWS to donate to my museum. ILYA?


Posted: 5/6/2017 12:45:47 AM

From: 60 Miles North of San Diego, CA

Joined: 10/1/2014

My first theremin designs were done without looking how anyone else designed one. My main goal was to only use Radio Shack parts, a store here in the states. That taught me that a theremin is basic electronics and only complicated if you want to make it that way.

Ok ok my first pitch sounded like a mouse getting its nuts squeezed off.

My first volume control used Pulse Width Modulation which worked very effectively; I do not think many other theremin designers use this approach. This gave me a very dynamic volume control as may be heard in this sound sample.

It makes me sad that the theremin is evolving into electronic gibberish and a cheap whistle instead of channeling the classic sound of a ladies voice.

A EWS theremin in a kid’s museum does not need the volume loop or any exposed knobs. I think I have found my method for RF remote pitch tuning.

Posted: 5/6/2017 11:47:44 AM

From: Canada

Joined: 8/1/2008

Hi Christopher,

The definition of “theremin” is changing with the times. I have a wonderful old music dictionary published in the 1930’s that defines a theremin as Leon Theremin himself would have defined it: a space-controlled, heterodyne, electronic musical instrument in which volume and pitch are controlled gesturally by motion of the player’s hands within the electrostatic fields surrounding the device’s two antennas.

Strictly speaking, by this simple definition, the vast majority of instruments being called THEREMINS today, do not qualify - including all “pitch-only” devices. Even the Moog SERIES 91 instruments are technically not theremins because they are not heterodynamic. They are gestural synthesizers.

The current tendency is to define “theremin” as a SOUND, and not as a musical instrument at all. For many musicians, the theremin app on their tablet is just as much of a theremin as an RCA.

As for what you call the “classic sound of a lady’s voice”, don’t forget Leon Theremin designed his original instruments with timbre controls, so the soprano vocal was only one of many possible sounds. When the RCA went into production, the timbre controls were eliminated in order to keep costs down, so the Victor Theremin was limited to a single sound. Clara Rockmore’s custom theremin, as you know, had timbre controls (seems to me it had seven ???) but Clara used only one sound, “the singing lady”, and never changed it.

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