We happened upon the Drawdio, the pencil-based device that turns anything that can conduct electricity into a theramin (you know that odd instrument from the Beach Boys’ song Good Vibrations?) after learning about Makey-Makey. You can buy the Drawdio pre-assembled or in kit form.
We opted for the kit from AdaFruit, which The Maker Teen then assembled, not without a few moments of frustration. Still, he saw the project through from start to finish on his own in one sitting. (What? Like I would have been able to help him?)
Take a look at how the finished product works and then I’ll show you how
we my son got there.
We opened the kit and my son checked to make sure we had all the components. It turned out we were missing a resistor or capacitor, which AdaFruit would have replaced at no charge, but the part was so inexpensive, we opted to run to a nearby Radio Shack and pick it up for less than $1.
There’s a lot of matching up and soldering tiny parts.
After placing and soldering the components per the kit instructions, he had to get the speaker in place and soldered down. I actually helped with this part. There is an easier way to do this, but my boy went for the challenge of the more elegant speaker placement.
The circuit board was then attached to a graphite pencil, as shown below. The pencil was later wrapped in copper tape and a metal pushpin was inserted into the graphite at the top of the pencil.
Once we added a battery, we were good to go. As you saw in the video above, the Drawdio is a fun device and it’s a great tool for explaining how circuits work and how electricity flows, as well as what objects it flows through, such as people.