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Make: Projects

Build the Solar Theremin kit

Learn how to build a solar theremin kit from the Maker Shed.

Build the Solar Theremin kit

This is a really fun project for anyone interested in electronics or music. Best of all, it’s inexpensive, easy to solder, and lots of fun.

You can pick up a kit in the Maker Shed.

Make sure to watch my video demo and take a guess at what song I’m playing!

Steps

Step #1:

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Build the Solar Theremin kit
  • Check your kit against the parts list
  • Remember to get a mint tin to house the electronics, or pick up a Make Projects tin.

Step #2:

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Build the Solar Theremin kit

The first step is to cut out the templates provided in the directions. I used the piece of cardboard that the solar panel was attached to for the Theremin\'s top.

Step #3:

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Build the Solar Theremin kit
  • Tape the bottom template in the tin. This will stop any of the electrical components from shorting out if they happen to touch the tin.
  • Add the long cardboard strip around the interior edge of the tin.

Step #4:

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Build the Solar Theremin kit
  • Solder the 3 transistors and the 22K resistor.
  • Make sure you insert the transistors according to the diagram or it will not work.

Step #5:

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Build the Solar Theremin kit
  • You need to connect the (2) supplied capacitors together prior to soldering them.
  • Make sure you connect them with the (+) and (-) ends together. The arrows on the capacitors, which happen to point to the negative lead, should be pointing from right to left when looking at the board.

Step #6:

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Build the Solar Theremin kit
  • Solder the capacitors to the board.
  • Don't clip the leads yet! You can cut the (+) lead, but the (-) lead will be soldered to the switch.

Step #7:

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Build the Solar Theremin kit
  • Attach the pre-tinned copper wires to the board.
  • You can see them at the top of this picture.
  • I used the 3rd hand to hold them in place while soldering.
  • The (2) 3cm wires go in the middle of the (2) 7cm wires.

Step #8:

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Build the Solar Theremin kit

Solder the switch to the (-) side of the board and the twisted pair of wires from the capacitors.

Step #9:

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Build the Solar Theremin kit
  • Add the 12k resistor to the back of the board.
  • Make sure to read the included directions carefully and solder it in the right spot.
  • One end goes to the (+) side of the capacitors and the other goes to a trace on the board.

Step #10:

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Build the Solar Theremin kit

It can be a bit tricky to solder the speaker. I found using the 3rd hand to hold the speaker in place and bending the (2) 3cm wires was the easiest way to solder them together.

Step #11:

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Build the Solar Theremin kit
  • Screw the switch into the cardboard template that you cut out.
  • Next, feed the (2) 7cm leads through the holes in the template.
  • Now solder the solar panel to the copper tinned leads.
  • Make sure you orient the solar panel as described in the instructions.
  • The panel can be tricky to solder; make sure you use enough heat.

Step #12:

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Build the Solar Theremin kit
  • Push the whole assembly underneath the lip of the tin.
  • The cardboard ring will hold it away from the bottom.
  • You might want to use a small screwdriver to slip the cardboard under the lip. It can be a bit tricky, but the template is a perfect fit.
  • That's it! Take it outside and make some music.
  • Make sure to watch my video demo too!