The Human Theremin with ir distance sensor

Posted on Feb 6, 2014

We always like to use Halloween as a chance to show off neat homemade electronics to the general public. In this special Halloween video tutorial, we have recreated the idea behind a musical instrument called the theremin, and built one into a Halloween costume. This not only gives you the ability to wear a costume that is loud and very likely obnoxious,

The Human Theremin with ir distance sensor
Click here to download the full size of the above Circuit.

but also to have a costume that is fun for others to interact with. The project uses two infrared distance sensors, as well as PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) and a piezoelectric buzzer to create a sound, and brings together quite a few concepts to make the whole thing work. This project recreates the properties of a musical instrument called the theremin. A theremin is played without the performer having physical contact with the instrument. A "normal" theremin uses two antennas and changing electric fields to sense the position of the players hands (not unlike our previous Capacitive Proximity Sensor from last Halloween); one hand controls the pitch of the note, and the other hand controls the volume or amplitude of the note. The idea behind this costume is to recreate the function of a theremin and build it into a Halloween costume, giving someone that approaches you while trick-or-treating the ability to wave their hands and make music with your costume like a theremin. For our theremin, we need two distance sensors: one to control the volume of the note being played, and the other to change the pitch. We decided to build two simple IR reflectivity sensors which measure how much infrared light is reflected from a nearby target. When a target (like the player`s hands) is brought closer to the IR LED and phototransistor pair, more light is reflected back into the sensor. As shown in the photos above, the IR LED and...

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