EM Theremin- Using hand wavy science to create music

I first heard of the Theremin during a class in my undergraduate studies when another group of students decided to build one for their end-of-class project. I didn’t think much else on this hands-free musical instrument until recently when I had some down time in my graduate studies and decided to do a bit of research on a project to kick winter off until it was warm enough for another hike.

I found a schematic based on the original design on the internet (these days, most folks are abandoning the pitch and volume antennas in favor of optical sensors and microcontrollers), pulled from an early 1996 issue of Electronic Musician magazine, which is still in print as of this posting. The article itself was a nice read, not only detailing the construction of the Theremin including tuning and playing tips for those that take on the challenge of this build themselves, but also providing a bit of the history and theory of this instrument that dates back to 1928. After placing my order with my favorite online electronics component provider, I anxiously awaited for my package to arrive, passing the time by hunting for a partner in crime with which to build this project.

The build went well for the most part, though I found myself wanting to build another custom PCB since the perf board soldering was pretty time consuming. After completing the circuit (and a few hours of debugging) I was ready to tune it up and start practicing.



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First licensed in 2014 under the call KK6JQV with my university club in San Luis Obispo (W6BHZ), I am currently living in Colorado and operating under the call WØASB. I am a mountain biker and climber working to activate Colorado's Summits on the Air (SOTA) peaks and dabbling in other hobby projects along the way.

2 thoughts on “EM Theremin- Using hand wavy science to create music”

  1. Hi! I am working on the same project at the moment, and i noticed that you use different inductors. The originals are hard to find or super expensive on ebay.

    What inductors did you use? I’m also very curious how your machine sounds!

    Thanks for sharing your project!


    1. Hello,
      I used different inductors around the same value; the main difference I found in the datasheet between the BOM parts and the parts I used were the quality factor- the called out components are a bit less lossy. The effect I found this too have was a “dead zone” during the tuning/playing that did not bother me.
      I’ll try to get a sound recording up soon!

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