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Oscillators produce AC signals, which we can amplify and hear as tones. Oscillators can also control other oscillators, making more complex tones. Hot damn. This tutorial shows how to build oscillators on a solderless breadboard.

After experimenting and finalizing your design, you can transfer it to one of our Oscillator boards to make it more gig-worthy. We used a different integrated circuit the chip last week to build our amps; it had only one circuitry block in it, a single analog amplifier the right-pointing triangle on the schematic.

So you can get 6 oscillators out of one chip. Data sheets also often have sample schematics that can help get you started using a new chip.

On chips like this with multiple elements, all the inverters on the chip are the same, so you can pick whichever one makes the layout easiest.

We can do the same thing here. Replace the resistor with a photocell. Or wire in a pot variable resistor to control the pitch. Or, hold the two resistor leads in your fingers and squeeze to change your skin resistance.

Or a combination. You can also change the capacitor value… swap in some different ones and see what happens. Try something else. Somewhere between. Like this: Check each oscillator out one at a time, by listening to each output separately. Get all 3 oscillators happy before continuing.

We want to mix all three oscillators together. All 3 oscillators signals are now mixed together, out to the amp. The 3 k resistors on the right are the mixer resistors.

Ov course, you might have something different by now… Building Blocks: So we have oscillators, and we can change their frequency by changing the values of either the resistor or capacitors. In addition to changing them manually, we can also use one oscillator to control another oscillator. Once we start stringing circuits together, one circuit controlling another circuit… oh, boy. Remove the output lead from oscillator 1 pin 2. Now, use a diode to connect the output of 1 to the input of oscillator 3 pin 5.

Diodes are also polarized, to show which way they allow signal to flow… in this case, the banded end should go to pin2 of the IC see picture. The diode keeps the signal flowing in only one direction, so osc. Try using variable resistors and start monkeying with the rate of the first oscillator, then the frequency of the second… then both. Now osc. More to come SO those are some basics: oscillators, which can be controlled manually or which can control each other.

A sweet setup would be 3 pairs of FM oscillators with all three outputs mixed together… speed controls on the slow oscillators, photocells on the fast ones, individual volume controls… you get the idea. You can get some pretty complex sounds with just a few basic building blocks, repeated a few times.


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