DIY Stethoscope Mic

It’s been a while since i’ve written anything here as I’ve been wrapped up in studying for my MA and working at my new job at Doghouse Post but this week I decided I should get back on writing this blog and making some recordings.

With that in mind, and inspired by Akash Thakkar and Rene Coronado, I decided to make a stethoscope mic. I’ve only recently come across these as a concept, and Akash’s GDC talk about the sound of Hyper Light Drifter (which you can find here) made me decide to give it a go myself!

The build was based off of Akash’s design and both he and Rene were (as far as I know) inspired by Diego Stocco so thanks Diego for inspiring me by proxy! My version is substantially lower budget than all of these guys, but I was able to make it in under an hour, for under a tenner and mostly out of stuff I already had lying around.

The ingredients were as follows:

1 x Stethoscope – From Ebay – £3.99 inc. postage.

1 x Lav Mic – I already had this from my previous DIY parabolic mic build, I decided to reuse it for this as the parabolic mic was a bit fragile and just all round not that good.

1 x 3cm section of garden hose – From my garden hose! Thankfully my housemates didn’t seem to mind me cutting up the hose.

1 x Shitloads of gaffer tape

That’s it. The build was super easy and the end result looks a bit like this (I’ve since added more gaffer around the hosepipe section, please excuse the state of my sofa!)

I haven’t had much chance to make recordings yet this week as I’ve been pretty busy with work, but hopefully I’ll get the chance to make some and share them here in the next few weeks. I did, however, take a quick test recording of my own heartbeat.

As you can hear, the noise floor is pretty high, but I expected this from a mic that cost less than £10 to build. It’s running through my Zoom H1 which has quite a high noise floor anyway, but i’m still pretty happy with the result and will be running around like some kind of weird sound doctor for the next few weeks, i’ll share the results here when I make some more recordings.

Fun with Hydrophones

This month I have begun my MA program and so far it seems like it’s going to be loads of fun.

The other folks on my course all seem very nice and they have a diverse range of interests in all kinds of things sound related, from the super high tech, to the very low tech.

So far, aside from the obvious beginning of essay writing, I have mostly been focusing on making some underwater recordings.

I hired out some Jez Riley French hydrophones from the uni’s asset store and have been making lots of recordings with them. Mostly this involves trying to get them to stay underwater by sticking them in slightly awkward places like this:

Results have been varied to say the least but I’ve got some recordings that I’m pretty happy with and the process itself really encourages you to listen and experiment with placement a lot, which has been very fun.

I’ll update this post with some of the recordings I’ve made in the next week or so.

Update: Here’s a recording I made at Bristol Harbourside from the end of a pontoon. I dropped the hydrophone about 4 metres down into the water and came across this terrifying scraping sound. Ten nerd points for anyone who can identify it. My best guess is some kind of sluice/valve thing or some part of a boat (although there were no obviously moving or loud boats around at the time)

DIY Parabolic Mic!

After some months of faffing around and one botched attempt I have finally finished building a rudimentary DIY parabolic mic to use for field recordings. In total, the project probably cost me around £15 and I’m pretty happy with the result.

 

 

The materials I used are as follows:
1x Large Plastic Bin Lid
1x Jam Jar Lid
2x Jubilee Clips
1x Wooden Dowel
1x Metal Pipe
1x Lavalier (around £8 from amazon)
Gaffer’s Tape
Cable Ties

The only tools I used were a hacksaw, hot glue gun, drill, ruler, pen and a pair of scissors. The basic idea for my design came from this article and it was pretty simple to construct. I modified their design slightly after calculating (very roughly using the formula found here) where the focal point of my parabola was. Seeing as the bin lid I used as a dish is not a true parabolic curve, it doesn’t reflect quite as well as it would if it was, but i’m happy with it anyhow for the time being.

There are lots of folks out there who have made substantially better parabolic reflectors than me and some who have  constructed their own mics for the purpose. Check out examples here and here for starters.

Field recordings to follow shortly!

Update: Here’s a field recording made with the mic.

 

Update: I’ve now retired this mic as it was a bit unwieldy, fragile and not that effective. Still a good learning experience for me though! I took the lav mic and repurposed it into a DIY stethoscope mic which you can read more about here.

First Transmission

Over the coming months I will be using this blog to keep a diary of my work.

I hope to be able to keep track of my projects here, whilst also sharing my thoughts and feelings about the various things I’m working on with the aim of improving my writing skills and creating an ongoing document of my work.

I’m currently in the process of building a DIY hydrophone and a parabolic reflector to use for field recordings.

I will be sharing my progress and any subsequent recordings I make with them here over the next few months.
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