Capacitar

Capacitar

The Capacitar is a modification of and homage to the Cracklebox, an electronic instrument (toy) designed by Michael Waisvisz of STEIM. The Capacitar is essentially a cracklebox circuit that has been fabricated in such a way for it to be connected to the tuning pegs of an acoustic guitar. The original Cracklebox had 6 touch sensitive pads, the Capacitar circuit has 6 alligator clips that are individually connected to each tuning peg or string on a guitar. The strings of the guitar take on new sounds and serve as a tactile interface for sonic experimentation. In a pinch, I housed this circuit in a soap box ala David Tudor. I left the connection wires long for aesthetic purposes, engulfing the headstock of my Martin backpacker guitar in haywire. The original Cracklebox uses a SN72709, however these chips are rare and difficult to acquire. You can just as easily use an NTE909D chip, available from places like mouser.com . The circuit fabrication for this unit was at times distressing only because the sounds created by the Capacitar are seemingly unpredictable. After practice and performance with the Capacitar I developed specific gestures that result in expressive sounds. Using the entire length of the 6 strings on a guitar as an interface for the NTE909D, it is possible to make out certain chord shapes that create distinctive sounds that are accurately reproducible. Below is a prototyped version of the Capacitar circuit, aka Mr. Krackles, which uses a LM286 as an amplifier, and wound wire to create capacitive touch points. In case you want to build a Cracklebox or Capacitar, Noisybox has a great tutorial on how to build the original Cracklebox, and provides clips of common sounds produced by the circuit, helpful for troubleshooting.  STEIM also sells DIY kits for a hefty price that supports a great organization. This project is an advanced beginner – intermediate electronics project, the result is a  The greatness of the Crackle circuit is the possibility to use any conductive material as an input – doorknobs, conductive fabric, bike parts, etc., the possibility for use are endless… Here is a recording of the Capacitar used during a performance at Bunker Survival in Oakland, CA. The Capacitar is processed quite heavily but the emblematic sounds of the Crackle circuit are very present and heavily featured.

Capacitar – Live @ Bunker Survival