Once upon a time, I had a module called the OptoThing - it used an optocoupler IC to do weird and strange things to an incoming signal. This is its successor, with a bit of a difference.
There are two sides to this - there's the 'optocoupler side', which uses a Sharp PC817 or similar phototransistor to do nasty, filter-like things to the sound and there's a 'vactrol side' which uses a VTL5C3 vactro (or an LED/LDR combo) to give you possibly the world's simplest voltage-controlled filter - there's even space for a pair of filter capacitors (I used 100nF and 10nF on the prototype builds) and a switch to swap between them. Both sides also act like ghetto VCAs
The PCB is black, too - how cool is that?
The board is 100% through-hole, so no surface-mount parts are required - construction is fairly straightforward so it's suitable for beginners if you're patient and there are no wilfully weird components either. Even better, it's completely passive so now power is required although for best results you may need to buffer the control voltages under certain circumstances.
BOM and panel files can be found at https://github.com/yorkmodular/optobox - the board measures approximately 71x56mm and has 3.2mm diameter mounting holes at each corner.
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I've been a musician for a while now - up until quite recently my weapon of choice was a bass guitar, but having fallen down the rabbit hole that is modular synthesis I have a new way to make noise ...
I started out the usual way: buy a rack and a bunch of modules (ADSR, VCA, VCO, that kind of thing) and start making noises. Then I discovered the DIY scene and it all snowballed from there - sequencers, filters, logic modules ... four racks full of noisemakers later and I'm still not done.
I'm a big believer in the KISS principle - Keep It Simple, Stupid! If you want all-singing, all-dancing multifunction modules then this really isn't the place for you - I prefer to build modules to do one thing and (hopefully) do it well. This is a rule I follow when I develop software, and hardware is no different.
The stuff you'll find here will generally be 'excess' from a run of boards - the underlying designs will have been tested and known to work, all you need to do is source appropriate componentry and do a build. I'm not going to make any claims that I'm the world's best circuit designer, but hey, if it ain't broke ...
For the really curious, despite working as a software developer I do have a PhD in theoretical physics, specifically the numerical simulation of explosions. It isn't nearly as interesting as you might imagine :-p