Monday, 14 December 2015

Make your own Music with DIY Synth Kit


We're loving the kits made by Technology Will Save Us, and recently they launched a campaign in celebration of the German band, Kraftwerk. They sent us a DIY Synth Kit to play with and we had fantastic fun making music.

It was inset day on Friday and my teen and I had a play with the DIY Synth Kit. We only had time to make one of the 3 different configurations, so there's still lots of exploring and fun to be had with the kit. There's even an extension project to connect with your Arduino.

Read our first impressions of the DIY Synth Kit by Technology Will Save Us (TWSU) and perhaps you could still get one for a techie maker in the family for Christmas. They are good fun and you will definitely learn a lot about electronics.

What's in the Box


If you read our blog regularly, you'll know I've reviewed another product by TWSU, called Electro Dough and there I make a comment about my love for their packaging. The simple cardboard box, with beautifully designed outer sleeve, holds every you need to make your DIY Synth, except for a 9V battery (the big rectangular one). Don't throw the box away, as it becomes the casing for your synth.

The kit uses a breadboard (no, not the wooden one you cut your loaf on) to complete the project. Using a breadboard allows your teen to work with real electronic components without the need for soldering. Breadboards can be a great tool for budding electronics engineers and you can read a useful Instructable here: Comprehensive Guide to Breadboards

twsu diy synth atari console

Who's it best for


There are lots of tiny and delicate electrical components so we don't recommend this kit for younger kids. TWSU recommends it for 12+ but all children are different and if a parent and child work together you may be able to use with a younger aged child.

We have a teen and younger kids in our family. The kit worked well for us, because the older sibling enjoyed the build, and the younger ones really enjoyed making music by turning the potentiometers.

How to Build it


The "Getting Started" leaflet included with the kit tells you exactly what all the components are and then points you online for the build instructions. TWSU provide online instructions for three different synths:

  1. Stutter Synth
  2. Atari Punk Console Synth
  3. Dub Siren Synth

We chose to make the Atari Punk Console. My teen and I built it together and it was so simple following the instructions online. They say it will take up to an hour to complete, but we managed it in 30 min. I learnt a lot (not an electronics expert) and it was a fantastic activity to share with my teen, who does tinker a bit with breadboards and electronics.

breadboard diy synth twsu


We didn't need any tools to complete the project, apart from scissors to cut the double sided tape and also the 9V battery to power the unit.

We think TWSU have done a fantastic work on their online instructions, as it's very clear where all the components fit into the breadboard, and they use the opportunity to teach you about every electronic component as you build.

Building with the teen

Thankfully our kit worked first time (phew). Then, we tried to add another speakers, but it didn't work. But this is exactly what I love about the TWSU kit, it gets you started and then suddenly you start to imagine other things that could potentially work.

Unfortunately we didn't have time to try the other two synth projects, but when we do we're sure to write about them too.

Play and Make Music


TWSU made a mini music video using the DIY Synth, in honour of the German band, Kraftwerk. It's a great inspiration of the type of fun music you can make with your DIY synth, so do check it out.

kraftwerk twsu diy synth
Image Credit: Technology Will Save Us


My teen built the kit, but my younger kids have enjoyed making music with it.  Here is their mini music session (by 5 & 7 year olds):



We now have lots of ideas, which we're going to try out over the Christmas break.

Get yours from the Technology Will Save Us Shop and tell us what you made.



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