Now, aside from making fake volcano simulations, you can actually get some recording done with this stuff. Science! Photo (CC-BY-ND) Rodrigo Huerta.

Need a new mic to play with? Maybe you should raid your kitchen pantry.

London-based musician Leafcutter John writes us to share a detailed tutorial on cooking up new mics from common household ingredients:

Real Sound Cookery – Make a contact mic with baking soda and cream of tartar. [leafcutterjohn.com]

That in turn is inspired by a terrific, detailed video by our friend Collin Cunningham for MAKE:Magazine (Collin’s also been a regular at our Handmade Music series in NYC).

The result: you’ve got the material to do some field recording or experimental sound design. Leafcutter John shares a bit of hands-on experience working with the thing, and has a sample recording up on SoundCloud:
First recording using Rochelle Salt piezo crystal made from baking soda and cream of tartar by leafcutterjohn

Also, and I don’t say these words very often, here’s a brilliant YouTube comment:

wait… mounting the crystal in place… THIS IS HOW THE BLACK MESA INCIDENT STARTED! :O

(Google it if you don’t get it.)

More great info from Leafcutter John:
Leafcutter’s DIY Steel Can Hydrophone & Preamp. Step-by-step guide
Shit I’m a Geek / The joy of Piezoelectricity [good background on the above]

(Side note: preamp is the really important part of the hydrophone equation, which I managed to screw up recently. Stay tuned for my tale of how to do it right, after I actually do it properly. DIY electronics is no fun, anyway, if you don’t occasionally completely botch it.)

  • Theta_Frost

    Wow, that is pretty amazing! How much more DIY can we get? :D

  • http://www.jhhl.net/iPhone jhhl

    I seem to recall making a mic with the carbon rod resting on two nails from inside a D-cell as a pre-teen. I think there's a lot to be said for non-linear audio recording devices. 

  • http://lumma.org/microwave Carl Lumma

    That's washing soda (sodium carbonate) not baking (sodium bicarbonate). :)

  • leafcutter

    nope i did it with baking soda – just bake it for an hour and it turns into sodium carbonate!

  • http://www.audiblechroma.com Tim

    Who'll come a waltzing matilda with me. Maybe this'll be the next project after my digital sax.

  • http://soundcloud.com/nonplus just b

    nice

  • Dude

    Incidentally, this is how you make crack cocaine as well….

    But I think this is much cooler ;-)