Class website for Hacking Audio Hardware.

View the Project on GitHub billythemusical/hacking-audio-hardware

Hacking Audio Hardware

Course Info

Course Number: DM-GY 9103
Term: Fall 2021
Location: 370 Jay St, Room 308
Meeting Time: Tuesdays 2:00pm - 4:50pm
Instructor: Billy Bennett
Email: wpb245@nyu.edu

Office Hours: calendar link
Course Website: https://billythemusical.github.io/hacking-audio-hardware
Syllabus: docs link - NYU only
Student Blogs: sheets link - NYU only
Assignments Page: link
Midterm Project: link
Final Project: link

Course Description

Using the seminal book Handmade Electronic Music by Nicholas Collins as our guide, students will experiment building, modifying, hacking basic analog electronics and audio circuits in a hands-on environment. From opening up common battery-powered objects like toys and radios, we can gain strategic access to their circuit boards and change their intended behavior - for predictable and unpredictable outcomes. But it is almost always a satisfying endeavor.

Beginning with an introduction to these various DIY (Do-It-Yourself) practices, students advance quickly to building their own circuits with a minimum amount of electronic components. Many of the projects in this course center on common integrated circuits (aka: IC’s or microchips), which we will bend, break, and remake in order to create tools/instruments for sonic and aesthetic ends. Other topics covered include circuit sniffing, circuit bending, alternative speaker construction, and creative uses for transducers, magnetic tape heads, contact mics, radio receivers and transmitters, and magnetic pickups of various types.

Students that successfully complete this course will:

  1. Have a very basic understanding of how electrical circuits work, and develop a working knowledge of basic electronic components including but not limited to IC’s, resistors, capacitors, and diodes.
  2. Be able to construct their own circuits both in prototype and finished, useable forms for presentation and/or performance.
  3. Acquire skills soldering together and working with basic audio equipment including microphones, amplifiers, and cables.
  4. Have a basic knowledge of the history and development of hardware hacking and circuit bending, and their contexts in the fields of experimental music and fine art.
  5. Understand the ethos and culture of hardware hacking and its important place in DIY (do-it-yourself) art communities.
  6. Learn to provide and receive constructive criticism on work produced in the class.

Course Overview & Slides

Week 1 - (Slides) Introductions, Syllabus, Lecture: A Speaker is a mic is a speaker, Ground Rules
Week 2 - (Slides) Rules of Electricity, Basic Electrical Components, Audio Connectors
Week 3 - (Slides) Breadboarding, My First Oscillator, Adding Modifications
Week 4 - (Slides) Breadboarding cont., Reading & Drawing Schematics
Week 5 - (Slides) Gated Oscillator, Drawing Schematics, Filters

❗ ❗ ❗ Remeber we do not have class on Oct 12th. ❗ ❗ ❗

Week 6 - (Slides) Protoboards, Making Enclosures - Improvised, Laser Cut, Build-Your-Own
Week 7 - (Slides) Enclosures cont., Additional Circuits, Filtering, Sequencing
Week 8 - (Slides) Contact Mics, Audio Lab Studio Visit
Week 9 - (Slides) Electret Mics, The DIY D.I.
Week 10 - (Slides) Working with Analog Tape, Mixers, More Circuits
Week 11 - (Slides) MidTerm Presentations
Week 12 - (Slides) The Basics of Circuit Bending, Hacking Toys
Week 13 - (Slides) Guest Lecture: Eric from Landscape, Finals Prep
Week 14 - Final Presentations

Handmade Electronic Music Video Tutorials - Many of our in-class workshops are covered here
Reed Ghazala’s Art of Circuit Bending - Lots of great and esoteric info on circuit bending and making and festooning your own enclosures
Circuit Benders UK - Tips for circuit bending and a lot of custom mods on common (and not-so-common) instruments.
Timers, Op Amps, and Optoelectronic Circuits & Projects by Forrest Mims - Great intro to electricity and electronics at the top. Many circuits utilizing the 555 timer IC and other components to make timers, oscillators, button debouncers, chirping devices, and more using op-amps and transistors.
The Art of the Creative Short Cicruit
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