The Electric Western Phantastron kit

Music Technology

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

Discuss this article with the rest of the community on our Discord server!

Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. His free weekly-ish maker tips newsletter can be found at

View more articles by Gareth Branwyn


Maker Faire Bay Area 2023 - Mare Island, CA

Escape to an island of imagination + innovation as Maker Faire Bay Area returns for its 15th iteration!

Buy Tickets today! SAVE 15% and lock-in your preferred date(s).