Project for beginners

Do you know some simple (say 3 or 4 ICs, a dozen of R/C parts) projects that I could point beginners to? I often get asked for recommendations of simple projects – people not confident enough about starting directly with a Shruthi.

Oh, and if I ever end up designing one myself (say: a power supply, an ATTiny, 3 pots, a DAC, an op-amp and an audio jack), what would it be?

bleeplabs nebulophone … i havent build it but it looks easy

If i could exchange the OpAmp with a Optocoupler and the Audio Jack with some 5PIN DIN Jacks - How about an EigenArpeggiator similar to the Eigendrums that warps the played Chord according to the Pots Settings?

I recently did just that and recommended 1 of these to someone for this very reason. Just 1 IC though… And isn’t a noise maker either. But plenty of trippy blinken lightz! Hackable firmware even.
If someone could make one of these without cocking it up, they’d likely get by OK with a Shruthi kit. And its cheap enough that if they do mess it up and ruin it beyond all hope of salvage, then at least they didn’t blow a lot of money on it.
Did I mention the blinken lightz are a trip?

Most Stepped Tone Gerator Kits (aka Atari Punk Console) are quite easy to build. For people in the US, Getlofi has several simple projects (though the price you pay for the kit is really a bit steep for such simple devices).
You could also just recommend the Nic Collins book, it’s full or great projects you can build, and most of them are quite easy (and useful) and besides that, it’s a great read!

the WSG was my first kit (other than hacking Speak&Spells/Maths). Can get a complete kit with printed front panel for $120.

The nebulophone looks like it’s a nice candidate.
The sad thing is that it’s loaded with a programmed/programmable chip, hence it’s perhaps not easy to debug.

A good beginner kit should :

  • cost less than 40€ or 50€ : you want some kind of a toy to learn soldering before you try the “big” thing, so you don’t want to spare too much money into it.
  • not include too fragile components (mosfet transistors are not really welcome here)
  • be easy to debug (which is a reason, along with the price, why µCs are not ideal)
  • be easily powered (a battery snap would be cool)
  • not be completely useless

All in one, those conditions are pretty difficult to fill. That’s why guitar stompboxes are so popular, they fill most of those conditions while being usable.
The Atari Punk Console is perfect for that job but… well… it’s limited.

Maybe some simple analog circuitry? Preferably using sneaky controls like LDRs so it’s fun to use? Like say, a fuzz specifically designed for synths, with a feedback engine using a LDR so it can self-oscillate? Or maybe some simple filter controlled by a LDR so you can play some gesture-based dubstep?

Ideally, it should also be complementary to a shruthi. Either by using the filter input (atari punk console, nebulophone, dear loves), either by connecting it to the output of a shruthi (hence the idea of simple filters or fuzz things).

Another idea is a basic, lm386-based portable amp for instance.

The PreenFM is some what expensive, or rather more money, but a really easy build with a really good use in the end, and it is a complete kit as well.

my first diy project was the shufflebox
very easy to build and extremely useful.

Maybe not as complex as you are asking but this was the first thing I built:

When I turned it on and it worked I decided I could do anything:)
I have yet to be able to fix climate change but I am not discouraged…


eric archer’s andromeda space rockers are also good fun and easy to build. mk-4, for example, is a nice bass drum.

i think guitat fx are a good idea. (musikding kits for example.)

something like a though-hole midipal would also be perfect

This one


Meeblip is a doddle. The micro is just the PCB and parts.

PreenFM is quite easy. There’s a 15 euro discount at the moment while Xavier is on holiday.

I would hardly call the PreenFM a cheap beginners project, might be beginners, but it certainly isn’t cheap (which seems to be what’s requested here).

It does look like a fairly useful little thing once done though… :slight_smile:

Yep, PreenFM and Meeblip are out because they are too expensive for a first build and failure. Meeblip Micro has wiring and requires buying external parts, so it’s out too.

as MicMicMan suggested. I reckon the atari punk console is the perfect introduction. It has everything you need to know and you get something that makes a noise at the end. Also they are pretty easy to come by from multiple vendors. The one from lush projects (UK) seems to be well supported, but I also noticed a version from synthrotek (USA).

yeah the one from Lush projects seems to be the most complete one. Never built one though.

I got one for my brother as a gift and it was one of his first projects. He managed to get it working with basic soldering tools and got it mounted in the suggested enclosure.