Circuitbending with Found Electronics

May 5th, 2012 10:00 am 
Mediamatic BANK, Vijzelstraat 68, Amsterdam Mediamatic BANK, Vijzelstraat 68, Amsterdam

Absolute beginners introduction to circuitbending. Bring in your Queensday finds and learn the essentials of hacking found electronics.

In this workshop you’ll learn hands-on the basics of circuit bending. Bring in your Queensday finds (at least two electronic devices!), open them up, and search for modifications using the techniques of circuit bending. The workshop will be held over a single day in an open lab format with explanations, demos, and one-on-one attention. All the necessary tools and electronic components except for batteries will be provided.

Circuit bending is an artistic approach to electronics. Meaning that no formal engineering training is necessary. Instead we’ll use intuition and curiosity as our guide. Success is determined directly by the pleasure of the sounds one discovers, no matter how one might have arrived at those results. The main goal of the workshop is to get everyone comfortable working creatively with found electronics. By the end of the workshop everyone will walk away with a newly bent instrument or device.

Some topics we will cover include:

  • Enough electronics basics to get you opening up electronic gadgets without fear
  • Understanding the essential tools of circuit bending
  • Basic circuit modifications using common electronic components and controls
  • Modding device enclosures to add switches, knobs, light-sensors, etc..

Date: 5 May, 2012
Time: 10:00 – 18:00
Cost: €50 (+ parts cost depending on your individual project, paid at the workshop)
Location: Mediamatic BANK, Vijzelstraat 68, Amsterdam
Maximum number of participants: 16

You must register online to attend this workshop. Registration is available through our partners at Mediamatic via this event page.

Also be sure to check out the other Hack Queensday events happening the weekend of May 5-6 at STEIM and Mediamatic!


Everyone attending should bring AT LEAST two electronic devices to be bent. The more the better. Circuit bending is an inexact science, and every once in a while you’ll completely fry a device while attempting a difficult bend. The devices MUST run on batteries at a low voltage (hacking electronics connected to mains power can be lethal!). Batteries will not be provided, so please bring adequately fresh batteries to power your electronics.

Some classic circuit bending devices are:

– Radios (especially older ones.. especially those big battery-powered 80’s boom boxes!)

– Tape players/recorders (Sony Walkman etc..)

– Keyboards (Casio, Yamaha)

– Sound making toys (Speak and Spell, early-model Furby)

The tendency in consumer electronics over the last years has been to make things smaller and smaller – hence harder to hack and modify! Try to dig up things from the 80’s or early 90’s, or even older if you get so lucky! Don’t be afraid to turn them on and see what kinds of sounds they make before buying them.

If you would like to bring an enclosure for your electronics that’s also a nice idea. Often times the original casing of the device is too small to fit all your modifications in, and needs to be transplanted into a new body. VHS tape cases and cigar boxes are marvelous candidates.

We will provide all the tools and components for modifying your devices. At the end of the workshop we ask that you pay for the parts that you used for your project (you can expect this cost to be somewhere between €5 and €15 depending on what you use).

Once again, no knowledge of electronics is necessary to participate in this workshop. We’ll teach you what you need to know!


The lab will be led by STEIM staff along with invited guests. Including but not limited to:

Daniel Schorno is an experimental composer/musician, born in Zurich/Switzerland. He studied composition in London with Melanie Daiken and electronic and computer music in The Hague/Netherlands, with Joel Ryan and Clarence Barlow. Invited by past STEIM director Michel Waisvisz, he lead STEIM – the renown Dutch Studio for Electro Instrumental Music, and home of ‘New Instruments’ – as Artistic Director until 2005. There he collaborated with musicians and artists like Frank van de Ven, Frances-Marie Uitti, Netochka Nezvanova, Laetitia Sonami, Francisco Lopez, Jon Rose, Anne Laberge, Steina Vasulka, and numerous Dutch New Music Ensembles and organisations like the FNM/Stuttgart and the Theremin Institute/Moscow. He is currently STEIM’s composer-in-research and creative project advisor. Recent works also include the ongoing ‘KAIROS Project’, where he invites instrumental virtuosi to play along with his new sensor instruments. His concerts and workshops have taken him all over Europe and as far afield as Johannesburg’s Sowe to, Iceland, Shanghai and the street artists & kids of Guatemala City.

Jonathan Reus is a Dutch/American artist working with sound, electronics and computing technologies. Through improvised music and sound performances he investigates the alien-but-entangled relationship we share with our ecosystems of machines and information. His background includes studies in mathematics, folk art, music composition, artificial intelligence and painting. In the past he has been a computer science teacher, Fulbright research fellow, banjo picker, and cyber-hobo.

Jonathan has given talks and done workshops on music and technology at the NIME (New Instruments for Musical Expression) conference in Oslo, LIG Art Hall in Seoul, and at Electronic Frequencies Festival in Amsterdam and at STEIM, where he currently works organizing academic collaborations, professional workshops, and community events.

Phillip Stearns

Yaniv Schonfeld

Technical Notes:

This is a two-day workshop where you’ll learn the basics of circuit bending hands-on. Bring in your Queensday finds (at least two electronic devices!), open them up, and search for circuit modifications using the techniques of circuit bending.