Thingamagoop, a DIY Electronic Instrument

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The Thingamagoop is a fun music maker, a self-contained synthesizer that creates beeps, squawks and howls and other electronic noises when you play with the buttons, switches, and knobs. One of the most unique aspects of the Thingamagoop is its LEDicle, an antenna-like wire with a LED on the end, which not only looks cool, but can be twisted to shine into the ‘Goop’s light sensor (the eye), giving you all sorts of options for making crazy sounds — something along the lines of an optical theremin.

It’s also kid friendly. All three of my kids helped solder it together, and when we finished the Thingamagoop, they immediately snatched it and ran away to play with it. Nothing about the ‘Goop’s functionality precludes a kid from playing with it, other than the lack of judgment about the noise’s annoyance factor. (Mom, fearing for her sanity, ended up putting it on top of the fridge.) Some synth kits come without an enclosure, or require that you plug it into a stereo or amp to hear the effects. The fact that the Thingamagoop comes packed into a durable metal case with a speaker and battery adds to the kid-friendliness.

It’s sold by Bleep Labs, a company in Austin, TX, that makes and sells a variety of fun noisemaking electronic instruments, both pre-built and in kit form. If you’re considering choosing the kit ($100) over the assembled product ($160) to save money, know that its difficulty may challenge beginners too much, with performance problems arising if you mess up some solder joints. For instance, my LEDicle doesn’t light up — not sure where I went wrong. You can also buy the kit without the pre-drilled enclosure for $75.

Conversely, additional DIY possibilities present themselves to more experienced builders: the Thingamagoop is based off the Arduino ecosystem, which means that you can alter its firmware and tweak the noises to your own liking.

Thingamagoop: Makes fun noises, it’s accessible to kids, but ramps up the difficulty to offer a decent challenge for mom or dad.

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