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Folks who were at the Bay Area Maker Faire may remember Lorin Parker and Electric Western. They were in the steampunk area, next to The Contraptors Lounge. Now the man who brought you the tube theramin and the steam-driven synthesizer is about to unleash his Phantastron kit on the world, a tube-based voltage-controlled oscillator (VCO). The video above includes the prototype for a ribbon controller that really demonstrates what this thing can do.

Here’s a list of kit features he emailed us:

– All NOS tubes based on cybernetics, computing and electronic music of the 1930s. Tubes are high quality NOS and hand-selected/tested.
— Safe, isolated power supply comes pre-assembled (fuse and PTC protected all UL certified) so makers don’t have to worry about the dangerous part of tubes.
— Steampunk aesthetic, with brass, copper, pine and hardwood case — branded with the EW by hand with a brand I forged myself.
— Turret board construction like old! Build the way Theremin and Martenot did!
— Comes with countless mods and homebrew control in mind. Can be controlled by a guitar or a string and a carbon strip or an analog synth or by itself. The turret board has lots of extra room to build more circuits on and change components.
— It’s just super cool and fun, sounds great, and offers my goal of bringing vacuum tube experimentation to a larger community in a fun, doable, safe project.

The kit is slated to go on sale on October 1st and sell for $195.

Electric Western

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelancer writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture, including the first book about the web (Mosaic Quick Tour) and the Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Building Robots. He is currently working on a best-of collection of his writing, called Borg Like Me.


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