During this crazy covid-19 moment, many of my projects got put on hold, like so many people. Finding myself trapped indoors, the one thing I didn’t give up were my daily walks. Given the situation, it seemed like a great idea to build a new instrument, since it has been awhile since I’ve worked on solarsonic projects.
This instrument is called Eloe, a reimagining of the name “Lowe,” which is the middle name of the great Richard Tietelbaum, the synthesist, composer and improvisor who died this April 9, 2020. Eloe follows along the path I had begun with Aalborg (see the catalog page), which was the idea of creating two separate circuits: a custom synthesizer made from two hex Schmitt trigger chips (74C14), both of which have several oscillators that feed back into each other. They are directly powered by one 2.2 V PV module, with no buffering. The amplifier is separately powered by a 100 F 3 V super capacitor, which is charged by the other PV modules. This means that the amplification stage is more stable, and allows for performance in lower light conditions, while the synth itself is subject to the extreme voltages of the moment. An alternative to batteries, super capacitors can function a bit like them, and even though they can’t power the instrument for very long in the dark (about 20 minutes in this case), they will probably never have to be replaced, at least not during my lifetime. This instrument has been very fun to play while taking walks, and I’m thinking of making of series of these in the near future, perhaps with a tutorial.