Phantom Power is a wearable musical instrument created by Brady Bei. It consists of an analog synthesizer located on the arm and is operated and performed using both hand gestures and screwdriver. Check out a video of it in action here:
Here’s how Brady describes how it was created:
It is made of customized PCB board embedded on aluminum arm exoskeleton. Circuit is designed by Ray Wilson and I modified it to fit into exoskeleton design. I break the design into three parts: synth, interface and power supply. Each of them live on different area on the arm. I acid etched the PCB board and populated with through-hole parts. Instead of putting switches and pots directly onto the boards, I used PTSM/PTPM terminal blocks from the Phoenix Contact to run wires afterwards. I replaced the rotatory pots with trim pots so that it will allow me to perform with screwdriver.
The exoskeleton structure is made out of anodized aluminum bars. Using Double snap-grid nylon clamp to clamp it onto the arm. For the hand part I used hook and loop to attach slide pots onto the gloves. Using fishing line and spring to create the mechanism for the hand gestures.
I had the opportunity to see it in action both at the New Interfaces for Musical Expression show at the Bell House and the ITP Winter Show back in December. What impressed me most about this project was its super solid construction as well as the choices Brady made around aesthetics and interface. While my taste usually tends towards wearables that integrate electronics seamlessly, in this case I really appreciated the exoskeletal, cyborgian, guts-out approach. The use of exposed wires and screwdriver-operated trim pots really add to that effect. My favorite bit is how these tethered trim pots are mechanically transformed into a sensors that can interpret the gesticulation of fingers!
If you’d like to have a go at working with synthesizers, check out the Minty Synth Kit 2.0. For creating a project that has exposed, flexible wires like Brady’s I would recommend the Silicone-Cover Stranded Wire. It’s supple and tough – perfect for your favorite cyborg.
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