A reply to Guitargully's post, june 17, 2004
I've got to admit, this is one of those things that gets me to start into the "Engineer vs DIYer" arguments--- but then I've got to stop. A lot of the things going on in circuit bending rely on unexpected and unpredictable results of experimentation. Components are used in ways that were not intended. Nonlinear reactions are encouraged if they sound interesting. It's probably not impossible to creating these things by design, but I say that most circuit bending stuff relies on serendipity.
As guitargully said, many circuit benders touch wires to different spots to see how it sounds- i said it's more serendipity than engineering. Sometimes things work, sometimes they don't. BUT- there's a big but here- a little engineering can go a long way for safety, reliability, and troubleshooting.
My advice on what to try is mainly to get cheap stuff and knock yourself out. I found a really neat drum pad with a good variety of sounds at Goodwill or Salvation Army for only $3. It runs on 2 AA batteries, so i'm not going to zap myself. My advice to you is to start playing with a 555 IC. You can make sounds with it, make blinky lights, and learn a lot about electronics.
Learn all that you can about analog electronics.You'll get farther faster if you have some idea of what's going on. If you learn how most of the stuff works, you can avoid fires and breaking stuff. Make sure that you're only working on small battery operated stuff to start out. Don't get zapped. I read in your profile that you're 14, so I've really got to stress that to you that you've got to keep safety in mind. When in doubt, ALWAYS ask someone who would know. Don't get zapped.
Ok, now here's where some more engineering comes into it. Once you have a device that sounds really cool, you'll need to get some sort of protective buffer between the little frankenstein and anything that can really make it loud.
When you're messing with a circuit, do NOT connect it to your stereo or any speakers or equipment that you care about. Use the speakers it came with, or else a $10 boom box, if you can find one with an input. The circuits can very easily produce damaging signals such as DC, or 8hz square waves of an amplitude that nothing could handle.
It's very possible to persue this without being an engineer. The engineering part is what takes some book learning. It allows you to limit the circuits to work within acceptable bounds, to prevent yourself from getting hurt or hurting your speakers. It also allows you to achieve a desired effect more easily. It gives you good ideas of what direction to persue things.
A good site for links to everything electronic is: Epanorama.net
Ok, and here are some of my random links about this kind of thing.You can pick and choose what looks interesting- I thought i had more that were relevant to circuit bending, but these are what I had sitting around leftover from research for my school projects.