May 12, 2014 AT 9:00 am

How to make The Friendstrument: A simple electronic musical instrument #musicmondays

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BoingBoing Founder Mark Frauenfelder posted a wonderful tutorial for a simple musical electronics project from his book Maker Dad. Check out how to make a Freindstrument here!

My daughters love to show the Friendstrument to their friends, and it never fails to elicit squeals of delight when they play with it. The Friendstrument looks like a colorful keepsake box, with one difference: on the lid sit two pennies. One girl touches a penny with her finger, and her friend touches the other penny. With their free hands, the girls tap each other on the arms and face. With each tap, the box emits a tone. You can vary the pitch with the amount of pressure you apply with your finger. The reason we call it the Friendstrument is because it turns friends into a musical instrument!

This is one of the more challenging projects in the book, because it involves electronics and soldering. If you’ve never made an electronic circuit before, don’t fear The friendstrument has a simple circuit, and you and your daughter will enjoy making it. If you’ve never soldered before, this is a great opportunity to learn. (Read Mitch Altman’s excellent comic book guide to soldering here.) I know parents who have taught their 5-year-olds how to solder.

If you aren’t ready to dive in and learn soldering, We’ll show you how to complete the circuit without soldering (except for soldering wire to a couple of pennies).

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