bug iconThe Insectitron project started out as a prototyping exercise for something else before becoming it's own thing. The goal was to create a portable piece of art that generates musical notes. My early ideas centered around homemade instruments. Wind chimes were considered, then something like a flute, and later I played with the idea of building a kind of motorized hurdy-gurdy. I kept running into problems with either time, cost, or space. Eventually I looked into battery powered synthesizers and even bought a few electronic kits hoping I could hack something together, but lacked the necessary electronics know-how. Finally, I determined using portable cassette players with built-in external speakers would be the most direct route to my goal considering my budget.


3D bug animation

Construction was ad hoc. I didn't have a solid plan when I started but thought it might be helpful to draw the internal components in Blender and experiment with abstract shapes. Nothing I made was interesting until the shapes morphed into a low-poly insect. That was my eureka moment. I was going to make little techno-bugs. And what if the eyes had sound activated LEDs? Yes, of course they need those too.

I had no idea what materials I would use to make them. 3D printing would be too expensive since I don't own a printer (yet). So my first challenge was to get the design out of Blender and into my hands. This led me to a paper model plugin and then I decided that building some of the sculpture in paper mache would be fine. Once I got started it was simply a matter of solving problems as construction progressed. Surprisingly, the biggest problem was the color scheme. I enlisted help from my friend Alexandra who gave me choices and great feedback. It took a little over three months to make these "beatbox beetles" and they are super cool.


Right now these little guys play a version of "Spirit" from my slowwavesleep project. As I write new Insectitron songs I'll post them below. I wrote something in VCV rack that I was going to convert to cassette for this project and never got around to it. Video only (below) and also here is the .vcv file.

Now that the Insectirton project is complete, here is a bonus video with version one and two together. What a happy family!

a bug