Weatherproof Theremin Construction

Posted: 5/4/2016 3:37:37 PM

From: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Joined: 4/24/2015

Hello all,

I've been absent from the forum for a bit, but still chugging along slow and steady on my project.

I've been invited to potentially install my 13 theremins (a scale model of the RCI shortwave radio tower site built from theremins) outdoors... and in the future, I do foresee other outdoor installations (hopefully one on the actual RCI site itself with each theremin standing on one of the original concrete pads where the original radio towers stood).

So far I've built a few prototypes and have lately been focusing on the max msp patch for the last little while (not building the final 13 theremins until I have all the programming bugs worked out).


So my question is... has anyone developed a good way of weatherproofing theremins for outdoor performances or installations?


If I create removable plastic covers in case of dampness or rain (little mini clear custom rain jackets) that shouldn't affect the circuitry right?  Should I leave holes for the antennas to stick out uncovered? or should the antennas be included in the rain jacket too?

The other option is to build little shelters or canopies for each of the 13 theremins.... metal would interfere, but if I built a little wooden hut structure (4 posts and a roof - modelled after the switch huts on the RCI site) over each theremin, would that cause interference?


Any thoughts on things to consider, or possible solutions for weatherproofing my theremins for outdoor installation would be much appreciated!  (of course, I'll hope for clear weather... but rain, drizzle, and fog does happen out here!)

Posted: 5/4/2016 6:51:59 PM

From: Northern NJ, USA

Joined: 2/17/2012

For temporary, try putting a plastic bag over it, antennas and all.  I don't think it will change anything in the way of capacitance. 

For permanent, the antennas should probably be insulated anyway (ESD) so it's just a matter of doing something about the general housing and controls.

I've found wood to be mildly capacitive, so it might throw off the tuning a bit.  Not the best thing to use for Theremin housings IMO, though not the worst either.  (I imagine this is why the EWS is so hard to tune, the wooden housing top throws things off when you put it back on.)

Posted: 5/4/2016 7:11:32 PM

From: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Joined: 4/24/2015

So if I coated the whole thing (wooden case and antennas) really well in resin (leaving room on the bottom to open it for repairs and adjustments)... then that should work?

I could build it so that all of the outputs and control knobs are also on the bottom... and then coat the entire top, sides, and antennas with resin for weather proofing (looking for permanent and aesthetic weatherproofing rather than temporary).

sound like a plan?

Posted: 5/4/2016 8:53:28 PM

From: 60 Miles North of San Diego, CA

Joined: 10/1/2014

Hello xoadc,

I know for fact that a theremin outdoors in the elements like sun, wind and rain there is no hope, in other words it is not a practical approach. (dew)

Just throwing a sheet of plastic over it throws the pitch off, then spray it with water and all hell breaks lose.

You need to conduct some outdoor tests before the big day arrives so you understand what you are up against. I learned many things on my journey of 10,000 theremin misses over the years.

I do wish you the best of success as what you are doing is fun!


Edit: A theremin needs a very stable environment to operate in.

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