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From “You Built What?!” The Electronic Didgeridoo @ Popular Science

Kyle Evans, a 24-year-old artist, bought his first didgeridoo in a small shop in Cairns, Australia, three years ago. The owner helped him pick out one of his handmade Aboriginal instruments, and after Evans taught himself to play, he decided to build an enhanced version: an electronically modified, Bluetooth-enhanced PVC pipe that cranks out didgeridoo-like sound with added digital flourishes.

Traditional didgeridoos are simple wind instruments made from hollowed-out trees. While learning to play the one from Cairns, Evans was also getting into computer-synthesized music, and he noticed similarities between the sounds. His first attempt to combine the two, involving a Big Gulp mug and a USB link to his laptop, proved too cumbersome, so he designed a Bluetooth version instead.

He cut a length of PVC pipe to form the body of the instrument and then mounted several square sections of a larger-diameter pipe to the outside. These platforms hide the wiring for the Bluetooth board and the control knobs that let him tweak the instrument’s steady drone.

When Evans plays, he blows through a beeswax-coated mouthpiece on one end, as with a traditional didgeridoo, and a wireless microphone positioned inside the far end relays the sound to his computer, which outputs sound to a speaker. At the same time, he can adjust the knobs, wirelessly signaling his computer to modulate the notes. He’s thinking of recording original music for it and has performed with it at some small venues. But the one audience he really wants to play it for are the Aboriginal people whose instrument inspired his invention.

Phillip Torrone

Editor at large – Make magazine. Creative director – Adafruit Industries, contributing editor – Popular Science. Previously: Founded – Hack-a-Day, how-to editor – Engadget, Director of product development – Fallon Worldwide, Technology Director – Braincraft.


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