Best kit for newb w/ no electronics experience?

Posted: 1/29/2006 1:16:24 PM
Aniviel

From: TX, USA

Joined: 1/29/2006

Hey all,

I'm looking for a cheap theremin kit (no more than about $150 US? I'm not sure if this is a reasonable price range or what...) and I've gotton kind of lost here. I'd like something of reasonable quality-- not professional, but if I'm spending $100+ on this I may as well get something worthwhile...

I first looked at the kits on thereminkits.com, but I'm hesitant to buy the cheapest kit I can find...I know that's not exactly a good idea when shopping for a musical instrument. Has anyone used one of these?

And I've read several old posts where people have recommended the paia theremax, but I'm confused about the components. Does the basic kit not come with case/antennae? What if I buy just the 'Partial Case Kit' along with the 'theremax kit' -- what is the function of a case anyway? (I'm really not planning on carrying this thing around or anything...)

I'm pretty sure my dad has some basic knowledge of electronics and can help me with construction, so...we could figure out a kit, right?

Wow. I sound pretty clueless, huh? Thanks for any info y'all can give me!
-Aniviel
Posted: 2/1/2006 7:22:17 PM
Aniviel

From: TX, USA

Joined: 1/29/2006

Hmm, now I'm looking at a Jaycar kit. I've got a couple of questions about Max's mods as discussed on the schematics page.

About how much is the additional cost going to be for these parts? Are they easy to find? (I'm in the US...)

Also, is this the sort of thing amateurs like me and my father will be able to figure out?

Thanks a bunch,
-Aniviel
Posted: 2/2/2006 9:06:23 AM
Jason

From: Sammamish, Washington

Joined: 2/13/2005

If you want a playable theremin, you might also look at the Theremax kit. You can get the electronics only for around $75 I believe. Many people have found that the Jaycar requires some modifications after completion before it's a "useful" theremin. The theremax isn't perfect, but it's a step up from the Jaycar in my opinion.
Posted: 2/2/2006 7:23:24 PM
Aniviel

From: TX, USA

Joined: 1/29/2006

Right. I read in another thread that that was the case, and Max's mods were pretty crucial to making it a playable instrument. From what I've read, after the mods it's a pretty good instrument, no?

But I guess the real question here is which would be easier to put together? A theremax or a modded jaycar? Has anyone built a theremax that can tell me about it? (Or actually done the mods on a jaycar, for that matter...)
Posted: 2/2/2006 8:52:43 PM
Jason

From: Sammamish, Washington

Joined: 2/13/2005

I built my Theremax about 9 years ago and I haven't personally built a Jaycar. The Theremax has good instructions, and even if you don't have a lot of electronics experience, if you can follow the directions, the folks here can probably get you past any questions you might have. It might help to go to Radio Shack and buy some random parts to practice your soldering technique before starting on a theremin. Cold solder joints are the most common problems we see.
Posted: 2/2/2006 9:03:31 PM
kkissinger

From: Kansas City, Mo.

Joined: 8/23/2005

Hi!

Numerous folks have built kits, such as the Theremax, with no previous experience. To build this or other kits requires attention to detail and exacting workmanship. You will want to learn to solder -- perhaps you have a friend or acquaintance that can work with you on it. If you are somewhat "fussy" about things, then you will likely be successful.

The Theremax with the stock antenna is difficult to play. Yes... one can play music on it however the supplied antenna is very sensitive to vertical motion -- thus, you may play at the same distance from the pitch antenna but a slight variance in the height of your hand will affect the pitch. Others have reported that the Theremax's playability improves by replacing the stock antenna (a thin copper rod) with a regular rod (i.e., a chrome-plated rod one can get at the hardware store).

Probably the easiest kit to build is the Standard Etherwave kit because the circuit board components are already assembled and tested.

Its price-point is beyond the Theremax, though.

So, if you are after a kit-building experience, the Theremax will provide you a lot of fun and it is a nice-sounding Theremin. Just bear in mind that it is tougher to do precision playing on the Tmax than other Theremins such as the Etherwave.

Good luck!
Posted: 2/2/2006 9:49:37 PM
Aniviel

From: TX, USA

Joined: 1/29/2006

In light of what y'all have been saying, I guess I'll go for the Theremax then. *excited* (Yeah, I'd love to try out an Etherwave, but the cost is just not very justifiable at this point…) I'll make sure to practice my soldering and get someone to help me.

Thanks to everyone for your helpful replies!
-Aniviel

EDIT: Mmm, one question. What exactly is involved in putting in another antenna? What about the pitch antenna-- how do I bend it? (I've checked out the file showing the process in Projects>>Misc., but how is the actual bending done? Just tap it with a hammer, I suppose?) If I buy just the basic kit, will it be a big deal to install my own? That's the:

[i]Theremax Kit of electronic parts, knobs, wire, circuit board, 12 VDC Power supply, etc., less case.[/i]

Thanks again.
Posted: 2/14/2006 7:14:25 PM
Aniviel

From: TX, USA

Joined: 1/29/2006

Surprisingly fast service-- I ordered my Theremax on a friday and recieved it the following tuesday!

Yay, I'll probably get started on it this weekend.

Still don't know what to do about the antennae...

-Stacy
Posted: 2/14/2006 7:29:53 PM
kkissinger

From: Kansas City, Mo.

Joined: 8/23/2005

Best wishes to you one your Theremax project. My experience with Paia Electronics has always been positive on every kit. Scott is very responsive to troubleshooting questions and so if you get stumped, you can always contact Paia directly.

And your questions are welcome here! Lots of folks here at Thereminworld have built Tmax's.

Enjoy!
Posted: 2/14/2006 10:48:44 PM
Jason

From: Sammamish, Washington

Joined: 2/13/2005

Now that's quick service indeed!

My bit of advice is to take your time assembling the kit. I was so impatient to finally own a working theremin when I built mine that I didn't bother to finish the cabinet for nearly 6 months after I had it built. I also rushed through the soldering, leading to several cold solder joints and prolonging my own agony.

Enjoy it!

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