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The Micro-Synth 

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build, hack, tweak, share, discover,- 

The Micro-Synth 

Written By: Matt Maggio 



9V battery (1) 

Needle Nose Pliers (1) 

Optional, but highly recommended for 

bending leads 

Soldering iron (1) 

Wire strippers or scissors (1) 

555 timer chip (1) 

This is the base of our sound device 

Small 8 ohm speaker (1) 

/ salvaged mine out of an old cell phone 

Small power connector (female) (1) 
Also salvaged from a cell phone 

Small power connector (male) (1) 
It's the part that's inserted in to the 

CdS Photoresistor (1) 
The smaller the better 

0.022 uF Ceramic cap (1) 

33Kohm resistor (1) 
Preferably 1/8 Watt 

100 Ohm Resistor (1) 
Preferably 1/8 Watt 

Scrap lead clippings (1) 

Save them from your components! 

9V battery clip (1) 

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Page 1 of 5 

The Micro-Synth 


I've been making electronic musical instruments for a while now, and every step of the way 
they get more complicated, and harder to produce. Taking a break from the more intense 
synths, I wanted something simple, easy, and fun to build. 

Today I made a simple 555 timer synth with a twist - it's smaller than a penny! There's no 
SMD soldering or programming, and the parts are minimal. It's great for a project to build 
over an afternoon. 

Step 1 — The Micro-Synth 








• Be careful when making this 
project. You will have to 
make all soldering connections 
quickly to avoid frying the chip. If 
you have spent over a few seconds 
trying making a connection, but still 
can't make one, wait a bit before 
attepting to solder again. DON'T 

• The 555 timer leads will snap off 
EASILY if you bend them too many 
times. Only make 1-4 bends total 
on each lead (i.e., don't wiggle the 
leads back and forth for the perfect 
angle). I ruined 2 555 timers this 

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Page 2 of 5 

The Micro-Synth 

Step 2 

• Place your 555 timer upside down 
on your workspace ("dead bug" 
mode). It will be this way the whole 
build. Note that since the chip is 
turned over, the pin numbers are 
mirrored, something that can easily 
be mistaken later on. 

• Bend pins 4 and 8 toward each 
other over the chip. Put these as 
close to the chip as possible. 

• Bend pin 3 reaching out and down 
toward the speaker. Don't solder to 
the speaker just yet though. 

• If you want, you may also clip off 
pin 5 to avoid extra unwanted 
connections. We won't be soldering 
anything to this lead. 

Step 3 



• Solder your lead clips (maybe from 
the resistor or capacitor leads?) as 
shown. Put one from pin 4 to pin 8 
and one from pin 2 to pin 6. 

• Also solder in the 100-ohm resistor 
to the wire connecting pins 4 and 8. 
Bend this resistor over the chip and 
to the side. 

• Now you can solder in the speaker 
if you choose to steady the chip 
when soldering. It helps a lot. :) 

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Page 3 of 5 

The Micro-Synth 

Step 4 


• Now it's time to insert more 
components. Solder the 0.022 uF 
cap from pin 1 to pin 2. Then solder 
the photoresistor from pin 7 to pin 

• When you solder the 33KQ 
resistor, it's easiest to stand the 
resistor up. Fold one lead over the 
side of the resistor. Then solder it 
to pins 6 and 7. 

• If you didn't before, now solder the 
chip to the speaker. 

Step 5 

• Time to make the power supply. 
Cut the male power connector from 
your cell phone charger or such 
and strip the leads. Take your 9V 
battery clip and solder the red to 
one lead and black to the other. 
Polarity doesn't matter for now. 

• Cover your connections in 
electrical tape and connect clip to 

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Page 4 of 5 

The Micro-Synth 

Step 6 

• You're almost done! Connect your 
power supply to the female power 
connector and use a multimeter to 
determine the polarity of the 

• Solder the positive connection to 
pin 4 and the negative lead to pin 1 
using lead clips. 

Step 7 

• Hooray! Enjoy your new musical instument! When you plug it in to the 9V battery supply, it 
whould start right away and vary in tone with the light you give it. 

• If it doesn't work, check all your connections. Mine didn't work at first, so I resoldered the 
cap even though it looked fine. Now it works like a charm! 

This document was last generated on 201 2-1 1 -03 03:42:55 AM. 

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