How to Build an Arduino Theremin Synth to Create Unique Electronic Sounds With Hand Gestures

Building an Arduino theremin synth is a fun electronics project that allows you to use hand gestures to create unique electronic sounds. With just a few common components, you can make a simple yet versatile musical instrument.

What You Will Need

To build your Arduino theremin synth, you will need:

That's it for the core components! Optionally, you can add an LED and switch for basic user feedback.

How a Theremin Works

A theremin creates sound using the principles of heterodyning oscillators. One ultrasonic sensor generates a fixed high frequency tone. As your hand gets closer, the second sensor modulates this tone up and down to create an audible output tone.

The closer your hand, the higher the output frequency. By moving your hands in the ultrasonic fields, you can create swooping musical pitches and effects. It's an ethereal sounding instrument!

The Arduino synthesizes the theremin tones using code, eliminating the need for discrete analog oscillators.

Building the Theremin Circuit

Here are the step-by-step instructions for constructing the circuit:

  1. Connect the two ultrasonic sensors to the Arduino board - trig and echo pins for each.

  2. Connect the two 10k potentiometers. These allow pitch adjustment.

  3. Add jumper wires from the 5V and GND pins to power the sensors.

  4. Connect the speaker or headphones to pin 9 for audio out.

  5. Add LED and switch if desired. The LED turns on when powered.

  6. Upload the Arduino theremin synthesis code to the board.

Once powered, you should hear a tone that modulates when you move your hands!

Playing Your Theremin Synth

It takes practice to smoothly play melodies on a theremin. Here are some playing tips:

With practice, you can perform full songs on your Arduino theremin! The versatile synth can produce sounds resembling a violin, cello, and vintage sci-fi sound effects. Have fun using hand gestures to make music!

Enclosure and Upgrades

Some options for improving your theremin project:

The basic Arduino theremin circuit provides endless possibilities for upgrades and customization! With just a few common components, you can start experimenting with unique electronic music and sound effects.